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Chaplain Terrinoni bids farewell to Tinker

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- In less than two weeks, Tinker will bid farewell to one of its own. Chaplain (Lt. Col.) David Terrinoni will venture to Pacific Air Forces Headquarters in Hawaii for his next assignment to become the staff chaplain for Plans and Programs.

The 72nd Air Base Wing chaplain, who arrived at Tinker in 2009, became a familiar face and instrumental asset to the wing, said he too has benefitted professionally and personally from this assignment.

"I have learned from the best leadership I have ever experienced from the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, tenant units and the Navy. These are fantastic people. I had not been at a place where we have a full spectrum of leaders at all levels that care so much, are very interactive, very professional and get along," Chaplain Terrinoni said. "Then you talk about the professional side at the chapel. I, personally, cannot remember a time when everybody at all levels all at once gets along."

During his two-and-a-half-year tenure much has happened. The chaplain and his wife, Vicki, purchased a home in the Oklahoma City metro, witnessed one of their twin daughters marry in the base chapel and celebrated the event at the Tinker Club. They also befriended many on-base personnel and off-base Okies.

"It's been a great ride, it really has," the chaplain said. "This has been a fantastic experience all around and we're going to miss it, the people in the Oklahoma City community and at Tinker."

Vicki Terrinoni, Chaplain Terrinoni's wife, agreed.

"We hadn't thought of Oklahoma when we got assigned here, but boy are we glad they assigned us here," she said.

In addition to creating personal memories, the chaplain said he's also proud of professional achievements, particularly two developments - the evolution of 72nd ABW Pre-Deployment Family Retreat and the Latte Lounge.

Chaplain Terrinoni, Charlotte "Charlie" Lewis, Tinker's Caring for People coordinator, and former OC-ALC Command Chief Master Sgt. Eric Harmon modeled the pre-deployment retreat after a program used at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. After a visit to the installation in December 2009 to witness the base's 17th pre-deployment program, officials returned to Tinker, inspired. Tinker sponsored the first event in August 2010.

"It has made a huge difference in people's lives for those who are getting ready for deployment separation and those who are just returning," the chaplain said. "It has been described as a cruise ship on land. The food and accommodations at the National Center for Employee Development in Norman are great."

A getaway from everyday distractions, couples and families are taught communication tools that will help with separation and are given a chance to create new memories.

"People who have attended have rated it a 4.8 out of five possible stars," Chaplain Terrinoni said. "We've also had people respond back that it has saved their marriages. It wasn't meant to be a marriage-saving retreat, but they learned things here that made a difference in relationships."

The Latte Lounge is a coffee bar in Bldg. 5913 or Loop Hall. In addition to free beverages, the lounge has digital video games, a pool table, high-definition televisions and wireless Internet access. The Latte Lounge is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. In its early days in 2007, the chaplain said it used to attract up to 80 people on the weekends. These days, it averages roughly 300 people on a given weekend.

"It has grown so very much and has given our single Airmen and Sailors in the dorm a safe place to mingle and learn," Chaplain Terrinoni said.

These developments were attainable despite a constricted budget and reduced manpower. The chaplain said due to heavy deployments the chapel was reduced to two chaplains and two assistants to service the entire installation. Five active-duty chaplains, two individual mobilization augmentee chaplains, four active-duty chaplain assistants, two IMA chaplain assistants and two General Schedule employees are assigned the Tinker.

It has all been worth it. Not only did the chaplain contribute to Tinker, but to history, which he said is a great lesson for younger Airmen and Sailors.

"Remember, you are a part of history," he said. "The things we do day-in and day-out - either doing the mission or supporting the mission - is the stuff people read about or see on TV; we are actually living it. That's unique because when you go home, the people you grew up with can't really relate to or understand what we have experienced because we lived it. You are part of history. Wear that fact carefully and proudly."

Chaplain Terrinoni officially leaves Tinker April 30. His last day in the office is today (April 20) and, he and his wife will be missed.

"Chaplain Terrinoni and Vicki have inspired Team Tinker with their actions," said Col. Steven Bleymaier, 72nd Air Base Wing commander. "They aren't the kind of people who sit around and watch things happen - they make things happen. And they have had a huge positive impact on the lives of so many in our Air Force family and community. The legacy they leave will remind us of their servant-leaders' heart. No doubt they will be missed by all of Team Tinker."