Kentridge grad leaving Iraq dies in accident

By Ray Rivera
Seattle Times staff reporter

His worst day, Adams told his father, was when he learned one of the 15 men under him had gone down in a Chinook helicopter crash. Adams later learned the soldier survived. In fact, no one in his unit would die in Iraq.

Except him.

Adams, a 1998 graduate of Kentridge High School in Kent, was killed in an accident west of Baghdad on Tuesday while riding in a convoy to Kuwait. He was on his way home.

"His last e-mail to us he said, 'Hopefully, the next time you hear from me, it'll be from Kuwait,' " said his father, Donald Adams, a nature photographer in Leavenworth.

The accident occurred when a passing vehicle struck the tank Adams was riding in, causing the barrel of a mounted .50-caliber machine gun to swing and strike Adams from behind. He was pronounced dead at a combat support hospital.

"It was just a very tragic traffic accident," his father said.

Adams was a tank platoon leader with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Carson, Colo. Born in Wichita, Kan., he moved with his family to Fairwood southeast of Renton as a third-grader. As a Boy Scout, he showed a flair for leadership early on, said his father. By his sophomore year at Kentridge, he had made Eagle Scout. As a senior, he was named commander of his Junior ROTC unit.

He was nominated to the United States Military Academy at West Point by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. After graduating in 2002, he trained to be an armor officer at Fort Knox, Ky., before being assigned to Fort Carson.

Adams was the oldest of two children. His sister, MaryLynn Adams, is a junior at Central Washington University and a ROTC cadet. His parents, Donald and Barbara, run Northwest Photography Gallery in Leavenworth.

"Our grieving started a year ago when he left," his father said. "We were very close."

Ray Rivera: 206-464-2926 or

Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.