Tattoo of MG Ricky Adams, U.S. Army National Guard

Downhome - Alabama

Ricky Adams was born in Elk City, Oklahoma in January 1960. Ricky’s father was in the ministry and pastored at a small Baptist church west of town. Ricky’s Mother was an Elk City Native whose family had been in the area for generations.  The Adams kids were raised in the community and attended the local high school. When Ricky wasn’t playing football or basketball on school teams, he worked at the grocery store.  In February of his senior year, while taking college entrance exams at Southwestern Oklahoma State College in Weatherford, OK he met a cute cheerleader, named Cathy (Waugh), who attended a rival high school. It just so happened that Cathy’s parents managed the store where Ricky worked part-time.  The two of them became high school sweethearts throughout the rest of their senior year. 

Don’t Stop Believing - Journey

Ricky felt a calling for service, however, as his high school years progressed, he realized it was military rather than ministry. He had hoped for a career in the military or law enforcement. Ricky and Cathy graduated high school in 1978 and got married that same summer.  In 1979 Rick attended Basic and AIT training at Fort Sill Oklahoma. Ricky had a long line of National Guardsmen in his family, so it was a natural choice for him to join the Oklahoma National Guard. When Ricky completed his training, he started Guard service in an 8-in SP cannon unit, Battery C, 1st Battalion 171st Field Artillery, Elk City, Oklahoma. In 1980, Cathy and Ricky welcomed their first daughter, also named Rikki (R_I_K_K_I), and Ricky began his first law enforcement job at the Elk City Police Department. During the next three years, he progressed up the ladder in both the police department and the Battalion. 

After 3 years serving as a gunner in the 1-171st, Ricky’s section chief said to him, “Hey, Rick, you ever thought about going to OCS?” Ricky thought about it, consulted with his uncle Jack, who was also an officer in the Guard, and decided to apply. The Battalion was looking for more officers at the time, but Ricky had always teased his old section Chief that he just wanted him out of his gun section. Ricky graduated from OCS followed by the Basic Officer Course in 1982. In addition to his promotion to Lieutenant and assignment as the Fire Direction Officer, Battery A, 1st BN 171st FA in Clinton, Oklahoma, 1983 found Ricky moving up to the Edmond Police Department, a much larger force. They also grew their family with their second daughter, Kaitlyn, born in 1985. 

Life is a Highway -  Tom Cochran 

Ricky was accepted to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and started the Academy in February 1986 graduating as the class’s honor graduate. The 20-week in-house academy was really difficult. Ricky thinks the OHP consulted with the Marine Corps when they designed the academy because he says it was more difficult than Army Basic and his OCS class combined. He was assigned to the detachment in Guthrie, Oklahoma, and spent most of his time patrolling rural stretches of the Interstate, chasing down drug traffickers and speed demons. One night he pulled over a speeder and when he looked at the ID, he recognized the guy immediately. When Ricky was in Basic, at Fort Sill, his wife, Cathy decided to drive down because she wanted to spend their first wedding anniversary together. Well, Cathy has a gift for talking her way through situations, which could be why she later went into Law, because not only was she able to talk her way past the gate guards, but she also talked the First Sergeant and Drill Sergeant into letting Ricky have an off-post pass for the evening. Fast forward 15 years and Ricky says to the driver, “You may not remember me, but I remember you, you were my 1st Sergeant in Basic Training at Ft Sill.” At this point, the driver thought he was in for the max ticket and fine, but he was surprised when Ricky said “You did something very nice for my wife and me back then and we were grateful. Have a good night and Slow Down!”  He handed the ex-sergeant’s ID back and let him go on his way.  The old first sergeant probably still doesn’t know who that Trooper was.

Rocket – Def Leppard 

In September 1987 Ricky took Command of Battery B, 1st Battalion 171st Field Artillery, in Anadarko, Oklahoma. After Battery Command, he moved up and served as Liaison and then as Fire Direction officer at the Battalion. Post Desert Storm, the 8-inch cannons were being phased out by the Army and the 1-171st was the second Battalion in the National Guard to convert to an MLRS unit, the first being their sister unit, the 158th FA BN in Lawton, OK. He stayed within the 1-171st except for a brief time as the Counterfire Officer at Brigade in Enid, OK, and then promoted to Major as S3 and later XO at the 158th in Lawton. 

Hero – Mariah Carey or Holding Out for a Hero – Bonnie Tyler 

It was Spring 1995 when tragedy struck Oklahoma City. All police, fire, and EMTs from the surrounding areas were called in as first responders. That April morning a truck packed with explosives was detonated outside the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, and leaving hundreds more injured. It was the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil at that time. Ricky was among those first responders, arriving on the scene only 25-30 minutes after the explosion. After a grueling day of trying to rescue as many people as possible from under the rubble, relief crews arrived and Ricky was reassigned walking patrol duties inside the perimeter of the site. While he was reflecting on the scene, where everyone came together to help, civilians as well as professionals jumped in without hesitation. There had never been a day in his life where he had been more proud of being an Oklahoman than that night of the bombing. 

Thunderbird – The Continentals

After Battalion command at the 1-171st FA MLRS, Ricky was accepted to the Army War College in 2000. He took a sabbatical from the state patrol, went on active duty, and the family moved north to Carlisle. Cathy still says the year at war college was one of the finest experiences they had as a family. During this year, Ricky was put on the Chief of Staff of the Army's Readiness Committee working with his team and MG Robert Scales.  It was a difficult project but it doubled as the group’s deep strategic research project so that was a bonus. After War College, was promoted to zone commander at OHP and attended the FBI National Academy in Quantico, VA in 2001, his new command within the OHP oversaw multiple areas of the state. Their oldest daughter, Rikki, graduated and went off to Mid America Bible College in Oklahoma and then transferred to the University of Central Oklahoma in the ROTC program, where she met her husband, Ron. She entered the active-duty Army in the Signal Corps and her husband branched into Field Artillery. Ricky, meanwhile, was promoted to Colonel in 2002, served within the State Area Command, Oklahoma City, and soon after took command of the 45th Field Artillery Brigade (Thunderbirds), in Enid, Oklahoma, becoming Red Thunder 06. During his Brigade Command they were mobilized to Deploy to Iraq with Battalions from 3 different states, 1-147th MLRS from South Dakota, 2-222nd 155 Paladin from Utah, and the 1-158th MLRS from Lawton, OK. The Battalion from Utah mobilized at Ft Carson, Ricky and his staff spent many hours on the phone coordinating the effort. The Brigade and its remaining two Battalion validated for combat at Fort Sill, loaded up on the railhead, ready to go, before the Army told them and the 1 Cav Division to stand by. They spent another few more weeks at Fort Sill, waiting on further orders. Those orders never came, so they had to download and unpack and everyone headed home. 

  During this time their youngest daughter, Kaitlyn, graduated from high school and went off to the University of Central Oklahoma just like her sister, where she met her husband Zach. 

Bad Boys – Bob Marley

In 2005, Ricky was assigned to be the Deputy Assistant Commandant at, U.S. Army Field Artillery School, at Fort Sill. He took another leave of absence from the OHP, and the Family moved into quarters in Academic Heights. Even though the war in the Middle East was still going on, Ricky loved being at the Schoolhouse and interacting with the students both active and reservist while learning a lot from (then Colonel) Mark McDonald, Colonel Albert Johnson, and MG Dave Ralston. He also served as the on-the-ground liaison between the Guard Bureau and mobilizing National Guard units on post, often coordinating resources, dealing with many reserve component soldier issues, and acting on behalf of the CG at many deployment, redeployment, and welcome home ceremonies. He was grateful to be there to support the units. In 2006 the bureau tapped Ricky to be the Director of the National Police program in Afghanistan. They wanted an individual who had civilian Law Enforcement experience, but from within the Military, and as a guardsman Ricky fit that bill. So, the State Department and Army agreed to send him off to become the Director, Police Reform Directorate, Combined Security Transition Command, Camp Eggers, Kabul, Afghanistan. On his way into country, he utilized a stop in Germany to meet with Rikki, Ron, and his first grandson Boomer. His group was a mixed pickup team of German National Police, State Department contractors, Canadian and US Army, Navy, Airforce, and Marine Individuals, which was a true joint force that he learned from each and enjoyed working alongside.  While downrange, Ricky had the opportunity to meet up with his son-in-law, Zach, for a very brief visit, who was deployed with the 45th’s 1st Bn 180th Infantry at the same time. When he returned to Oklahoma, he transferred out of the seat as Deputy assistant commandant and became the Deputy Commander for Army National Guard Field Artillery, Field Artillery Center, Fort Sill, Oklahoma. While at Fort Sill he earned his first star and was promoted to Brigadier General in 2007. He had the opportunity to work with (then Colonel) Rich Longo and MG Peter Vangjel. Both were tremendous influencers on Ricky. 

No Time To Kill – Clint Black

In May 2009, the Family moved back to their home in Edmond, Oklahoma. Ricky’s oldest daughter and Husband both deployed to Iraq with the Big Red One, so Cathy and Ricky got to spend that year with their two Grandkids, Boomer and Dakoda. During this time Ricky became the Commander, Land Component Command, Joint Force Headquarters in Oklahoma City, OK. The following December he took over as Assistant Adjutant General - Army, Oklahoma National Guard. When an individual serves in the National Guard, especially as they climb in ranks, they live a dual life. Ricky was also promoted and served as the Deputy Chief of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol in 2010 while carrying out Guard business in OKC. In 2011 he was promoted to Major General and became the Deputy Commanding General, Army National Guard, TRADOC at Fort Monroe, all while serving as the Assistant Commissioner for the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety. 

Forever Young  - Rod Stewart

Ricky was burning the candle at both ends, every bit of leave he had from one job, he would use on the other.  When Ricky was promoted to the Chief of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol in 2013, he quickly realized there was no way he could continue to travel as much as he had been for Guard duties. He was so thankful because not many people have the opportunity to have a stellar career, let alone two simultaneous stellar careers, as he had. In 2014 he decided to hang up his National Guard uniform and retired after 36 years of service to the Field Artillery, the State of Oklahoma, and his Nation. 

Ricky continued to serve as the Chief of the OHP until 2017 during his career serving as commander over state law enforcement operations, numerous state nature disasters, and manhunts. At this point, Cathy told him that he wasn’t getting any younger and that he should think about retiring.  However, he was asked to become the Director of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and assumed command in 2018.  The OSBI was going through some growing pains and Ricky was asked to step in and level the bubbles. He continued to serve at the OSBI for just shy of five years, leading the OSBI to its highest level of operational effectiveness in its nearly 100-year history. With his selection as the OSBI's Director in 2018, he became the only state law enforcement officer to rise through the ranks to lead both of Oklahoma's largest state police agencies. In 2014 Ricky was inducted into the Oklahoma National Guard’s OCS Hall of Fame and in 2023 was inducted into the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Hall of Fame in OKC. 

Oklahoma – Keb Mo

Ricky and Cathy Adams have been married for 46 years and Ricky says Cathy has been his biggest supporter through it all. When they got married, they had $300 and a “beater” car. They both had scholarships to different colleges, but they put those aside to get married. They both received their degrees the non-traditional way via night and part-time course work in-between working full time and Ricky’s Guard service. Cathy retired as an Assistant Attorney General, for the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office and also spent many years working first as a legal assistant and eventually as an Assistant District Attorney for the State of Oklahoma. Ricky finally got around to retiring from the OSBI in 2022. Today he spends his time volunteering with Committee 100, which supports Law Enforcement, supporting their local church, and many school organizations. When he’s not giving back, he’s either out fishing or spending time with his grandkids. Son-in-law, Ron, just retired and Daughter, Rikki, is about to retire from the Active Army. They, along with their two kids, Boomer and Dakota, purchased a house close by in OKC, OK. Kaitlyn works at Chesapeake Energy in OKC. She and her husband, Zach, have three children – Dagon, Colt, and Aven.  They live just down the road in Cashion, OK.  Ricky Adams has served his state and country, in a military, professional, and personal capacity for the better part of his lifetime.