Army Lt. Col. Thomas L. Adams Jr., 44, a member of the Rapid Deployment Force's staff in the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who was decorated combat veteran of the war in Vietnam, died Oct. 5 at the National Orthopaedic & Rehabilitation Hospital in Arlington after a heart attack. He lived in Oxon Hill.

Col. Adams received his commission in 1963. He graduated from parachutist's school and served in South Korea before going to South Vietnam in the mid-1960s. He was wounded while leading a platoon of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile).

Later assignments included staff posts in this country and a tour in Thailand as chief of the military personnel division of the Army Support Command.

He held the combat and expert infantryman's badges. His decorations included the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Air Medal and four Meritorious Service medals.

Col. Adams was a native of Florence, S.C., and a graduate of South Carolina State College. He earned a master's degree at the University of Maryland and a doctorate in education administration at the University of Pittsburgh. He was a graduate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces and the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth.

Survivors include his wife, the former Mary Frances Harper, of Oxon Hill; a son, Thomas L. III, a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis; a daughter, Martina L., a student at the University of South Carolina; his mother, Mabel Liston Adams, of Florence; a sister, Dr. Jean Heggins, of Orangeburg, S.C., and a brother, Joseph, of Willingboro, N.J.