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Adrian Braxton Mairs


Adrian Braxton Mairs, 89, of Fernandina Beach, Florida passed away on January 24, 2024, at Baptist Medical Center Nassau.

Adrian was born on January 9, 1935, in Springdale, Arkansas to the late Mark Braxton Mairs and Esther Marie Dees. He grew up on a farm in Habberton, Arkansas, near Fayetteville, and graduated from Fayetteville’s University High School in 1952. Adrian was a keen basketball player on the school team and was the vice president of the 4-H Club.

He married the love of his life, Rita Marie Phillips, at the First Baptist Church of Fayetteville, Arkansas on December 20, 1955. Over several years, the couple welcomed two children into their home, John in 1960 and Stephanie in 1967. His children remember him as a kind, patient and loving father, devoted to his family, who always encouraged them to pursue their interests and goals. As a result of his support, John became a successful electrical engineer and Stephanie became a successful attorney.

Adrian enjoyed radio and was a DJ at radio station WMUW while attending Wichita State University from 1953-1954, interviewing several celebrities on-the-air including big band leader Les Brown. In the late 1950s he was an Amateur Radio Operator, callsign KN5POG. He also enjoyed an occasional round of golf.

Adrian joined the Air Force on August 9, 1955, and served the country honorably as an Intelligence Operations Specialist, earning a Good Conduct Medal and several other awards. He was assigned to the 341st Bomber Wing of the Strategic Air Command, spending time assigned to Dyess AFB in Abilene, Texas, and an assignment in Anchorage, Alaska. While living in Abilene he attended Hardin-Simmons University. He requested and received an Honorable Discharge in 1959 to allow him to continue his higher education.

After graduation from the University of Arkansas (Fayetteville) in 1962 with a Bachelor of Arts in Geography, he and Rita moved to the Washington, DC area where he began working for the US Government as a Photographic Interpreter. One of his first assignments was supporting President Kennedy and White House policymakers during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962 by analyzing photographs of nuclear warhead bunkers and crates concealing Soviet nuclear missiles taken by the CORONA strategic reconnaissance satellite system.

His career took him to assignments all over the world, beginning with a tour of duty in Thailand, where he was assigned to the Air Force Base at Udon Thani, participating in Air America flight operations over Laos and Vietnam. He was later posted to New Delhi, India, then Istanbul, Turkey, as a Political Analyst for the US Department of State. He traveled to numerous assignments in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Central and South America. Over his career he also worked as an Intelligence Analyst and Operations Officer. In June 1978 Adrian was personally selected by President Carter to undertake an advance mission to the Middle East to gather key intelligence. His reports back to the White House and State Department helped lay the groundwork for the Camp David Accords, signed in September of that year, resulting in the first ever peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.

While assigned to the US Embassy in New Delhi in the early 1980s as a Political Analyst, he was approached by the production team filming the movie Rudyard Kipling’s “Kim”, starring Peter O’Toole and Bryan Brown, and he went on to play the British Viceroy in the film.

After retiring from his government career, he and Rita moved to Fernandina Beach in 1989, where he took a position as General Manager of Global Flight Research Incorporated, based at the Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport, which developed advanced Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for use by the military. Their UAV drones were used to drop leaflets over Iraq during the First Gulf War. He retired from this position in 1994.

After enjoying 5 years of retirement, Adrian was called back into government service, reporting for duty at a number of US Embassies and military bases overseas. In July 2000, he was awarded the NATO Meritorious Service Medal in recognition of his key contributions to Operation Joint Guardian and the Kosovo Force (KFOR) international peacekeeping force.

Adrian was once again asked to serve our country after 9/11 to support US counter-terrorism operations overseas. He spent his life helping protect America’s freedom and values throughout the Cold War, during the post–Cold War era, and post-9/11. He served in war zones on many occasions, but always kept his sense of calm. In November 2005, while on a mission to Amman, Jordan, he was awakened in his hotel by a large explosion one evening. After seeing another hotel down the street on fire and in ruins from an Al-Qaeda terrorist bombing, he calmly shut the blinds and went back to sleep!

After retiring (again!), he enjoyed spending time with his family, especially his beloved grandson Matthew Braxton Mairs, who is currently attending Loughbourough University in England, working towards a Master's Degree in Materials Engineering.

He was a faithful Christian and a member of the Baptist Church.

Adrian leaves behind his spouse of 68 years, Rita Marie Phillips Mairs, children, John (Sandra) and Stephanie (Jay), grandson Matthew and brother Thomas (Janie).

Funeral services were held at 1:00pm on Wednesday, January 31 with military honors at the Jacksonville National Cemetery. Tributes in memory of Adrian may be left on his memorial page at .


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