A Lasting Legacy

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- As military members, we often move every few years to new locations and often without a thought as to the history or past of the Airmen that came before us. The magnitude of an event that happened so many years before us is lost, yet still stays fresh in the minds of those who were affected.

With that, often we don't think what we say, post, or do would hurt nor offend others who still may remember. So many times, I post stories of fallen heroes, whether they are Air Force, Marines, Army, or Navy, those that did not necessarily die in combat but have left legacies that others should know about especially military members. I cry and weep as I think their lives were precious and they gave so much. A precious life was lost here at Grand Forks Air Force Base December 18, 2002, whose legacy should last forever and not be forgotten.

Second Lt. Holly Adams was an Academy Graduate of 2001, who was at the time a member of the 319th Mission Support Squadron (now known as the 319th Force Support Squadron) as a personnel officer. She was born in 1979 in New Iberia, La. and graduated high school in Franklin, Tenn., in 1997. Lieutenant Adams received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the U.S. Air Force Academy; along with being awarded the John K. Hester Memorial Award which is presented to the cadet who best exemplifies the highest ideals of loyalty, integrity and courage. She was the first female class president in the history of the Academy. She arrived at Grand Forks with the drive and initiative to mentor and leave her mark on the Airmen both military and civilian.

To read how her best friend, then-1st Lt. (now Major) Melanie Presuto, described her as a person, an Airman, and a leader in "Here's A Toast..." (Road & Rec Winter, 2005) can only come from someone that was close to her and respected her. Lieutenant Adams was loved, respected, a multitasker, very organized and always went above and beyond. She was highly involved in the community, always thinking of others, and made everyone feel important. She was only 23 years old but lived life to the fullest and embraced the Air Force Core Values to the fullest extent anyone Airman could. Her life was then cut short one fateful night.

On December 18, 2002, Lieutenant Adams was headed to the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport to catch a flight to spend the holidays with her family, fiancé and friends. She was driving on I-29 and was talking with her fiancée as she was excited to see everyone soon. She lost control of her Blazer, crossed the median and was hit broadside by a semi-tractor trailer. She was killed instantly and was the third person killed that night. The day's weather conditions included snow and ice, which melted on the road, then froze, making the surface extremely slippery. Some areas also had compacted snow and ice. So many individuals were affected by this great loss--her parents, three sisters, fiancé, friends, military and civilian Airmen. Many at Grand Forks took special care of her and were very close to her and ensured every intricate detail was thought out and taken care of to give her and her family the best that she deserved. She created lasting memories for many, some of who are still at Grand Forks.

Many often ask what a legacy is. A legacy by Merriam-Webster's definition is something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor. Second Lt. Holly Adams instilled in everyone she came into contact with what it meant to be a leader, and Airman who is willing to live life to the fullest with Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do. She is a shining example of who we should strive to be like each and every day not only as individuals but as Airmen. While she may not be with us in person, her legacy lives on at Grand Forks Air Force Base. Her memorial will be set up in the Military Personnel Section (MPS) as she represents the epitome of personnel officers. This way everyone on Grand Forks who visits MPS will have the opportunity to reflect on her contributions and to think about what legacy they would like to leave.