Born June 18, 1915 in Houston, Texas.
Died August 8, 2004 in
Houston, Texas, natural causes.
Neal "Red" Adair was born to Charles and Mary Adair.
Charles was a blacksmith in the Heights of Houston. Red had four
brothers and three sisters. Red Adair quit high school and held
various jobs to support the family. In 1936 he went to work for
the Southern Pacific Railroad.
first oil-related job came in 1938 with the Otis Pressure Control
Company. Red worked numerous odd jobs in the oil industry before
joining the Army during World War II. Red served with the 139th
Bomb Disposal Squadron and attained the rank of Staff Sergeant.
the war, Red began to work for Myron Kinley, the original pioneer
of oil well fire and blowout control. Red worked for the M. M.
Kinley Company for fourteen years, until he resigned in 1956.
Red then formed the Red Adair Company.
Red Adair Company became world-famous for pioneering techniques
to control oil well fires and blowouts. The Red Adair Company
was the first to extinguish an underwater wild well and the first
to cap a U.S. well while it was on fire. Red's legend started
when he extinguished the "Devil's Cigarette Lighter"
in 1962 in the Sahara Desert. The blaze had been burning for six
months, fueled by over 550 million cubic feet of gas a day.
also fought the 1970 offshore blaze at Bay Marchland, Louisiana,
and the Piper Alpha disaster in 1988. Perhaps his most famous
battle occurred when Red's team extinguished 117 oil well fires
in Kuwait, left by the retreating Iraqi Army.
Adair was technical advisor for the John Wayne movie Hellfighters.
Red sold the Red Adair Company in 1993.
I don't know what that word means. As long as a man is able to
work and he's productive out there and he feels good — keep
at it. I've got too many of my friends that retired and went home
and got on a rocking chair, and about a year and a half later,
I'm always going to the cemetery." (to reporters while working
at the Kuwaiti oil well fires at the end of the Gulf War in 1991)
done made a deal with the devil. He said he's going to give me
an air-conditioned place when I go down there, if I go there,
so I won't put all the fires out." (in 1991, joking about