Canku Ota

(Many Paths)

A Newsletter Celebrating Native America

November 18, 2000 - Issue 23


Major General Clarence L. Tinker

Osage Tribe

An airman of Osage ancestry, Clarence L. Tinker lost his life during World War II while on a combat mission during the Japanese attack on Midway Island in the Pacific, June 7, 1942.

He grew up near Pawhuska, in the Osage Nation in Oklahoma. During his youth, he worked in the print shop of his father's newspaper, the Wah-Sha-She News, which he founded and published. Tinker attended an Osage Nation boarding school in Pawhuska, and later the famous Indian school in Lawrence, Kansas, the Haskell Institute. He graduated from the Wentworth Military Academy, in Lexington, Missouri in 1912. Commissioned as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army infantry in March 1912, Tinker first served in the Hawaiian Islands. During the 1920s he entered the Air Service and graduated from flight training.

In 1927 he was named Commandant of the Air Corps Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, Texas. The 1930s saw Tinker as commander of various pursuit and bombardment units. In May 1940 he was promoted to Brigadier General. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Tinker was appointed Commander of the Air Forces in
Hawaii to reorganize the air defenses of the islands. In January 1942 he was advanced to Major General.

In early June 1942 the Japanese began their assault of Midway Island, and on 7 June, General Tinker elected to lead a force of early model B-24s against the retreating Japanese naval forces. Near Midway Island his plane was seen to go out of control and plunge into the sea. General Tinker and eight crewmen perished.

On October 14, 1942 the Oklahoma City Air Depot was named Tinker Field in his honor. It is now Tinker Air Force Base.



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