TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
On an unusually warm Nov. 17, Team Tinker senior and civic leaders, airmen and civilians attended the burial ceremony of a time capsule to be opened in 2092 at Maj. Charles B. Hall Memorial Airpark.
Col. Kenyon Bell, 72nd Air Base Wing commander, described the many commemorative special events that have marked Tinker Air Force Base’s 75th Anniversary celebration. They included:
· A kickoff celebration with Phil Tinker (grandson of Maj. Gen. Clarence Tinker who died in the Pacific while fighting in World War II);
· A gala in Midwest City and a Tinker Dining Out event in April;
· Star Spangled Salute Air Show in May;
· Veterans Day celebrations and parades;
· Air Force Ball (the date that the time capsule was officially rolled out);
Bell said he would never forget the air show because he had just taken command of the 72nd ABW on May 1 when just 20 days later, 247,000 people came out to participate.
“That was a significant event for us,” he said. “All of our mission partners came out to both defend the base and to show our support to the community. We had over 50 aerial and ground acts as part of our celebration."
Bell said the time capsule has something that is representative of each major military organization at Tinker.
“During our Air Force Ball, we ceremonially placed items in this box and closed it up,” he said, “and then, today, we get to bury it … We are now able to put our capsule down in the ground which is historically significant.”
During the 1940s, several Oklahoma City businessmen formed the Oklahoma Industries Foundation in order to attract a bomber base, aircraft plant or a depot repair facility in Oklahoma and made a petition.
“While this was going on, World War II was raging both in Europe and the Far East,” Bell said. “In 1941, the War Department announced that Oklahoma City was going to be the site of a new air material depot that would have 15 acres and 3,500 people. We stand now with over 5,000 acres and nearly 30,000 people (who are) active duty, civilian and dependents who work, live and play on this installation. I’d say we’ve come a long way.”
He shared several historical facts about the history of Tinker AFB and how they related to the Nov. 17 date.
“This time period means a lot to us and let’s talk about this exceptional park we’re in,” Bell said. “The Maj. Charles B. Hall Airpark is named after a Tuskegee Airman, a former Tinker AFB employee who was the first African American to shoot down an enemy aircraft in combat.”
He said the airpark features A7, B-29, B-47, B-52, B-1, C-47 and F-105 which contains Tinker’s heritage.
“This is where we get to have folks come and see a little more of our heritage,” Bell said. “Tinker AFB is representative of multiple MAJCOMs. There are 10 MAJCOMs in our Air Force and six of them are represented on this base.
“We have the Air Force Sustainment Center’s Global Logistic mission; the ability to deliver readiness across our globe. Our headquarters is located here with [Lt. Gen. Lee Levy II] being the commander of over 40,000 Airmen across the globe to provide combat readiness airpower in the way of overhauling aircraft and components and parts availability.”
He mentioned each unit that makes up the heart of Tinker AFB and how military there have supported every wartime contingency since World War II.
“Every single day at Tinker Air Force Base, we have over 500 Airmen deployed away from home doing the business that we have to do,” Bell said. “We have the opportunity today to bury this box, but this box symbolizes so much more.”
He said a CD will be contained in the time capsule.
“We hope they will figure out a way to read the CD so they can look at what we have done and to see the things we accomplished,” Bell said.
He praised the Tinker Heritage Foundation and thanked the group for their support.
Cadet Lt. Avery Stout from Carl Albert High School, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Steve Auchter from the Tinker Heritage Foundation and 72nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron Airman 1st Class Alexander Williams joined Bell and 72nd ABW Command Chief Master Sgt. Melissa Erb as they picked up shovels and dug into the earth of the park.