Retired Rear Adm. Charles Adair, who organized a 4,000-mile escape from Japanese forces during World War II, died Sunday of pneumonia at the Anne Arundel Medical Center. He was 90.
A longtime resident of Annapolis, Admiral Adair -- at the time a lieutenant -- organized the escape of a crew of 18 enlisted men and three officers from Corregidor on an 80-foot sailboat, the USS Lanikai, in 1941. The boat sailed into Tjilatiap, Java, in late February 1942 and then to Fremantle, Australia.
Born in Tyler, Texas, Admiral Adair and his family moved to California in 1908.
He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1926.
For seven years, he served on a battleship and a destroyer. He then went to a naval postgraduate school, studying applied communications in Annapolis, and then was assigned to staff positions in a destroyer squadron and at the Naval Academy.
Then after two years in Perth, Australia, as commander of a naval communications station, Admiral Adair was transferred to the Asiatic Fleet to head an assault-planning group on the staff of Adm. Daniel E. Barbey, commander of the 7th Amphibious Force in New Guinea.
Admiral Adair organized 15 amphibious assaults in the Southwest Pacific Ocean.
After reading a report of possible survivors from crippled ships during an assault in Leyte Gulf in the Philippines, then-Commander Adair planned a rescue mission that picked up 1,153 sailors.
After the war, Admiral Adair worked as an administrator in the Navy Department in Washington for about two years, then commanded the USS Marquette in the Mediterranean area for another two years. He was assistant director of budgets and reports for the Navy Department from 1952 to 1956, when he re- tired.
After retiring, Admiral Adair was a defense budget consultant for the General Electric Co. in Cincinnati for eight years, then for an aircraft manufacturer, Ling-Temco-Vought -- now known as LTV Corp. -- also in Cincinnati for seven years.
He then became a private consultant for three years in the Washington area.
Services for Admiral Adair were to be held at 10 a.m. today at the Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis.
He is survived by his wife of 64 years, the former Katherine Halligan; two sons, John Adair of Annapolis and Charles Adair of San Diego; a daughter, Katrina Mazurek of Annapolis; two sisters, Ruth Bishop and Lois Birbaum, both of Long Beach, Calif.; 11 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
The family suggested memorial contributions to the hospice of the Anne Arundel Medical Center, Franklin and Cathedral streets, Annapolis, Md. 21401.