Road to Tokyo: Pacific Theater Galleries have been made possible through a generous gift made by Board Chairman Richard C. Adkerson, who, together with his company, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., pledged $5 million.
Mr. Adkerson’s gift honors the service of his father, a Seabee in the Pacific during World War II. Freeport’s gift recognizes its large-scale mining operations in Papua, Indonesia, on the island of New Guinea. Mr. Adkerson is the President, CEO & Vice Chairman of Freeport-McMoRan.
Adkerson’s parents came from small-farm families in Lauderdale County in west Tennessee. His father J.W. Adkerson enlisted immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He became a Marine and a Seabee, a support unit in the Navy best known for construction projects, and he served two tours in the South Pacific. His mother’s twin brother, William Lawton “Buddy” Thornley, served in the Army in New Guinea under General MacArthur. Regrettably, both died during the early 1970s. J.W. never talked much about the war, but when Richard was young, he found a piece of a map of the South Pacific where his father had outlined the places he had served during his two WWII tours.
Mr. Adkerson began his career in New Orleans and, after living all over the country, returned in 1989 to join Freeport-McMoRan. A few years later, Stephen Ambrose began speaking with executives at Freeport about early plans for the Museum. Adkerson expressed strong interest from the beginning. He states that his favorite memory of the Museum is the opening on June 6, 2000, and the feeling he had watching the veterans in the parade through the streets of New Orleans and the warm, patriotic reception they so richly deserved.
“It would be a good time for Freeport and myself personally to make gifts that would help the Museum move forward in achieving our goals and encourage others to participate as well."
Richard C. Adkerson
Museum President and CEO Gordon “Nick” Mueller and Trustee Donald “Boysie” Bollinger approached Adkerson about joining the board in 2002, and Adkerson enthusiastically agreed. After serving for five years, Adkerson left the board in 2007 when Freeport moved its headquarters from New Orleans to Phoenix. In 2011, Museum Trustee Governor Pete Wilson visited Adkerson and suggested that he rejoin the Museum board. Adkerson accepted the invitation, and then in June 2013, became the Museum’s Board Chairman.
Adkerson felt that as he assumed the Chairman’s role, “it would be a good time for Freeport and myself personally to make gifts that would help the Museum move forward in achieving our goals and encourage others to participate as well." The sponsorship of Road to Tokyo was a natural fit due to his father's involvement in the Pacific and Freeport’s current mining work in New Guinea. In addition, Freeport’s predecessor company played a significant role on the Home Front by supplying copper materials during World War II.
With the help of this leadership gift, the Museum will be able to tell the complete story of the war in the Pacific. We extend our sincere thanks Richard C. Adkerson and Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. for their commitment to the Museum’s essential mission.