In Memory

Tung Thanh Adams

Tung Thanh Adams

Tung died in the USS Iowa turret explosion on 4/19/89 in service to his country in the US Navy.

Here is a copy of an article from the Washington Post that tells more about Tung and his family.

Copyright The Washington Post Company Apr 21, 1989

Tung Thanh Adams, a son of a U.S. State Department official, joined the Navy two years ago to gain experience in electronics, his uncle said yesterday.

Wednesday morning, Adams, 25, and 46 fellow crewmen of the USS Iowa died in a fiery blast that tore through a gun turret, where Adams was working on the electronic targeting system of the battleship's 16-inch guns.

"Needless to say, Tung's death will leave a void in our lives," his father, Alvin P. Adams Jr., former ambassador to Djibouti, said yesterday in a statement.

"He would want us to carry on, however, and to cope with the tragedy as he himself would have."

The Adamses were notified of their son's death about 6 a.m. yesterday by a Navy representative who arrived at the family's home in the 8900 block of Fort Hunt Road near Mount Vernon, according to an uncle, Nathan Adams.

He said that his nephew, a fire controlman 3rd class, was not always stationed in the turret and that the family is eager to learn the results of the naval investigation of the accident.

The Iowa, a World War II-vintage battleship that was modernized and reactivated by the Reagan administration in 1984, was conducting a training exercise off Puerto Rico when the explosion occurred.

Adams, a 1981 graduate of Fort Hunt High School in Fairfax County, had attended Northern Virginia Community College and entered the Navy in January 1987, his uncle said.

"He wanted the kind of training you can get in the military regarding electronics," Nathan Adams said.

"He hadn't made up his mind if he was going to make a career of the Navy or take a job outside the military" when his enlistment was up.

Even as a child, Tung Adams was a whiz at electronics, according to his uncle. "He was always an electronics bug. He was wizard on those videos. I remember watching him land an F-16 on one of those things. I tried and racked up the plane, and I can fly."

Tung Thanh was born in Vietnam, according to Nathan Adams, and was adopted not long after Alvin Adams returned to the United States in the early 1970s from a stint in Saigon as an assistant to then U.S. Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker. Tung's brother, Lex, 16, is in school in England.

Tung Adams signed up for a six-year Navy enlistment, his uncle said. He was assigned to the Iowa in August and had been on maneuvers with the ship before this week's training exercise in the Caribbean.

Nathan Adams answered reporters' telephone calls at his brother's home yesterday and read the former ambassador's statement.

"We are deeply grieved by the loss of our eldest son, Tung, and we are proud of his service in the U.S. Navy," Alvin Adams wrote. "We extend our sympathies to the loved ones of the other young men lost in the tragic explosion."

Author: Rob Howe

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11/07/09 04:36 PM #1    

Eric Schlam

I did not really know Tung in high school but we later became friends when we both worked part-time at Sears while attending Mason. He was a really good guy, part rebel, truly individualistic and clearly danced to his own tune. The event was tragic and I am sorry you have passed on my friend.

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