New Salem veteran celebrates 90th birthday with drive-by parade

  • New Salem veteran Arthur Adams smiles and waves as friends, police cruisers and fire trucks drive by his home Friday morning in celebration of his 90th birthday on Jan. 4. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • New Salem veteran Arthur Adams is flanked by his grandchildren, Michelle Adams and Jeff Adams, both of Northfield, as friends, police cruisers and fire trucks drive by his home Friday morning in celebration of his 90th birthday on Jan. 4. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • New Salem veteran Arthur Adams points to himself, standing second from the left, in a Vietnam War-era photo of his flight crew. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • New Salem veteran Arthur Adams waves as friends, police cruisers and fire trucks drive by his home Friday morning in celebration of his 90th birthday on Jan. 4. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • New Salem police and firefighters get ready to honor local veteran Arthur Adams on Friday with a drive-by parade for his 90th birthday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 1/11/2021 3:46:49 PM
Modified: 1/11/2021 4:46:49 PM

NEW SALEM — When New Salem Fire Chief Joe Cuneo was asked if the Fire Department would be willing to do a drive-by birthday celebration for a local veteran who was turning 90, he was happy to oblige. And so was the New Salem Police Department. And so were carloads of friends.

Arthur Adams, a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars, turned 90 on Jan. 4. To celebrate, his granddaughter, Michelle Adams of Northfield, and her friend Rosemary Mederios organized the drive-by parade for Friday morning.

Gathering at the New Salem Fire Station, they decorated the fire trucks with banners before setting out for Arthur’s home on Neilson Road. Grandson Jeff Adams was waiting with Arthur and some family friends as the convoy approached with sirens blaring and lights flashing, breaking the calm on a brisk sunny morning.

“It feels like when I got home from Vietnam,” Arthur Adams commented. With a broad grin on his face, he waved to the passersby while sitting in a rocking chair in his driveway.

Adams served for 20 years in the United States Air Force, first in the Korean War and then in the Vietnam War. He was the “load master” on a B-25 twin engine bomber — it was his job to make sure the bombs and cargo were evenly distributed for flight, he explained.

During the Vietnam War, he became a pilot and received several accolades, such as the Distinguished Flying Cross for “extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight” for landing and re-supplying troops while under enemy fire in Vietnam. Even after the wars, Adams said, he continued being a commercial pilot for 20 more years before working at the L.S. Starrett Co. in Athol.

Woodworking, fishing and helping his neighbors has kept Arthur Adams busy in the home he shares with his second wife, Linda Adams. His first wife, Norma Adams, as well as his two children, Stephen Adams and Patti Couture, predeceased him.

After the parade had passed, Arthur Adams got up from his chair with the cane he seemed to use more for gesturing than walking, and remarked, “I don’t know how I can thank all these people.”

Reach Paul Franz at pfranz@recorder.com.


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