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General Questioned About Use of Military Planes After Suspending Others

April 12, 1991

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A Marine Corps general flew a government plane to Florida, where he signed divorce papers, just months before he suspended two aides for alleged misuse of military aircraft, a newspaper reported Friday.

Brig. Gen. Wayne T. Adams, 51, also ordered a Marine Corps plane to shuttle him to a California military resort where he met his fiancee, the Los Angeles Times said.

Adams, commander of the Marine Western air base command, headquartered at El Toro Marine Corps Air Station south of Los Angeles, said the trips were legal.

″Every flight I’ve gone on has been a damn good training flight or for a commitment ... to the Marine Corps,″ the 28-year Marine veteran told the Times.

Public affairs officers at the base did not return phone calls to The Associated Press on Friday.

In January, Adams suspended Col. Joseph E. Underwood and Col. James E. Sabow for allegedly using Marine aircraft for personal business, the newspaper said.

Sabow, an assistant chief of staff for flight operations, shot himself to death five days later. Underwood, El Toro’s chief of staff, pleaded guilty to taking personal trips in military planes.

Adams said his actions differed from those of the suspended officers because his trips were made in the course of official military business.

The Times said a review of Adams’ flight records showed that three months before the two colonels were suspended, Adams was shuttled to a military resort at Big Bear where he met his fiancee.

Adams said he inspected a Marine Corps recreational area at Big Bear before taking two days leave to spend time with his fiancee.

Two weeks earlier, Adams took a 552-mile side trip to Florida while en route to Virginia for a military convention. While in Florida, Adams signed divorce papers ending his 26-year marriage, the newspaper said.

Adams said he flew to Florida last October because it offered ″one of the best training flights″ for testing weather conditions and using flight instruments.

Once there, he said, he rented a car at his own expense and drove to Tampa to sign divorce papers. Adams said he did not have to sign the papers when he did, but it seemed ″like the most expeditious way″ to use his time.

Pilots must fly a certain number of hours to maintain flight certification. In Adams’ case, he has to fly 50 hours a year, the Times said.

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