Dependable, well-mannered and ethical. These are just a few words that have been used to describe MAJ Stewart Adams, who has been selected to serve as the first African American Battalion Executive Officer of the 527th Engineer Battalion, located in Ruston.
As Executive Officer, it is Adams’ responsibility to oversee a 608-personnel battalion, administer and supervise duties and tasks regarding readiness, mobilization, logistics and transportation, just to name a few.
Decades before Adams received his new position, let alone joined the Armed Forces, African Americans had not been granted the opportunity to join the military and serve. On July 26, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981, integrating the military and mandating equality of treatment and opportunity.
Born an American citizen in London, and then raised in Little Rock, Ark., a young effervescent Adams had already been accustomed to a military background. Although his father was in the Bridge Air Force, Adams had no intentions of joining the military himself.
Ironically, Stewart later learned all things happen for a reason.
“My senior year in high school I was appointed to the Air Force Academy but declined the opportunity for the reason I assumed the military would not select me to enlist.”
Fast-forwarding a few years, while Adams was matriculating to earn his bachelor of science degree in computer information systems - and later went on to receive his MBA in management – from Louisiana Tech, he realized joining the armed forces could offer him an integral characteristic trait: discipline.
After joining the National Guard in 1997, the Arkansas native spent some time as an enlisted personnel before becoming a commissioned officer ranking second lieutenant in 2001.
Two years later, he served as vertical platoon leader in Kandahar, Afghanistan, during a tour of deployment for Operation Enduring Freedom.
On Aug. 15 last year, Adams received a phone call stating he, out of several other applicants, had been selected for the position as Battalion Executive Officer.
“It is already an honor to serve the country, but as an African American, expectations are higher for the reason that people feel as if one person represents all people of color, so the position you’re in increases the amount of pressure.
“I’m always looking to ensure that people understand that we (African Americans) too can be successful and be held in positions of responsibility at any level of any industry.”
Crediting Lt. Gen. Colin Powell, Maya Angelou and the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as pioneers he looks up to, Adams’ personal philosophy is “Don’t talk about it, be about it.”
When he’s not in uniform, he spends time with his children, La’Darrien, 17, and Ashley, 8, rides his motorcycle and exercises with strenuous weight training.
Famous African Americans in the military
Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III – 12th commander and first African American to hold the position of Central Command in charge of U.S. military operations in the Middle East.
Maj. Gen. Marcia M. Anderson – the Army’s first African American female to earn the rank of major general in 2011.
Marine Maj. Gen. Ronald L. Bailey – commanding general of the 1st Marine Division, based in Camp Pendleton, Calif. He is the first African American to hold this position.
Lt. Gen. Colin Powell – former United States Secretary of State.