Clarence L. Tinker, date unknown
Clarence Leonard Tinker landed twice at the Davis-Monthan
Airfield as a major in the Army Air Corps. Click this link to the Cosgrove Collection on
this site to see an image of Major Tinker on the ground
at Tucson, probably during 1929. He led an important and
illustrious life in aviation, terminated too soon.
Major Tinker signed the
Register in January 7, 1929 and August 23, 1933. In 1929
he carried a single passenger, Master Sgt. Clendening in
Curtiss A-3A Falcon, 27-310. In 1933 he was solo in Boeing
He was born at Osage County, OK on November 21, 1887 of
Osage Indian heritage. He was raised at Pawhuska, OK, Indian
Territory. He attended Wentworth Military Academy from 1906-1908
and joined the military soon after. There is at least one other Osage who signed the Register, air racer and transport pilot Francis D. "Chief" Bowhan.
He served as a Lieutenant in the
Philippine Constabulary from 1908 to 1912 and he
was married October 8, 1913. He was then Lt. in the
infantry from 1912-1917 and a Captain in the infantry 1917-1920.
It was his experience in WWI, reported in the newspapers,
that convinced Tinker that the military future lay in aviation.
While on duty as Professor of Military Science and Tactics
at the Riverside, CA Polytechnic High School and Junior College,
transferred to the Air Service in 1920 and learned to fly
at March Field, California. He held Combat Observer
and Command Pilot classifications.
From 1927-1930 he held command positions at the Advanced
Flying School at Kelly Field, TX. He held the rank of Major
from 1920-1935, during the period we see him at the Airfield.
General C.L. Tinker, ca. 1940
After 15 long years of interbellum doldrums, he was promoted
to Lt. Col. in 1935 and Colonel in 1936. These promotions
came on the heels of his performance with the U.S. air mail.
As Colonel he revamped the National Guard squadrons during
a four year interim before generalship.
He became Brigadier
General in October 1940, serving at MacDill Field, Tampa,
FL as Wing Commander. His promotion made him the only American
Indian general in the United States Army.
In December 1941, at
age 53, he was assigned as Chief of the Hawaiian Air Force at the outbreak of WWII.
General Tinker was killed in action during a bombing
raid on Japanese ships near Midway on June 7, 1942. He became
the first American General to die in WWII. He was awarded
the Distinguished Service Medal posthumously, and a 3-day
Osage dance was held a Pawhuska in his honor. The New York
Times of June 21, 1942 said of the dance:
"Except for the
inevitable modern touches -- the sightseeing townspeople in
modern dress and the occasional automobile among the tepees
-- the scene was much the same as in ancient times."
His portrait is enshrined in the Osage Indian Museum at
AFB, OK was named in his honor on October 14, 1942.
Below, an official Air Force photo courtesy of Major S. "Smash" Tobin, Tinker AFB pilot, and Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center History Office, U.S. Air Force.
Clarence Tinker, Date Unknown
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 01/23/07 REVISED: 02/19/08, 03/24/08