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Journal Record staff says farewell to Tinker

This is the final cover of the Tinker Take Off, which has been published by the Journal Record Publishing Co. for 65 years.

This is the final cover of the Tinker Take Off, which has been published by the Journal Record Publishing Co. for 65 years.

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

Nearly 65 years ago, the Journal Record Publishing Company began printing the Tinker Take Off.

Today, that partnership comes to an end with this issue of the base newspaper.

The Take Off may live on under new management in the coming months, but today we are saying goodbye to the current staff. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are forced to wish them well virtually.

My journey with the JR and Tinker began in December 1997. My plan was to stay a few months, then move on to something better. Turns out, Tinker and the JR were my something better. I grew to love my work and was proud to do my tiny part to serve the warfighter, even from behind the scenes. I stepped away from the JR four years ago, but didn’t venture far when I became a civil servant in Public Affairs.

The Take Off has changed through the years, most recently turning into more of a magazine, but what hasn’t changed is the staff’s desire to tell the Air Force story.

Photographer Kelly White has been documenting Tinker for the past 20 years, first in the base photo lab, then as the staff photographer for the Take Off.

White said she is honored to have experienced so much of what Team Tinker encompasses and will miss the people she’s met the most.

“I highly respect each person that has a part in keeping our Air Force flying, but the majority of that respect goes out to the mechanics on the floor who are the biggest lifeline for those aircraft,” White said. “My favorite photo shoots will always be the ones from the shop areas. I will never forget how many workers told me how much they loved their jobs and loved what they do. That is a testament to how special Tinker is.”

Tiffany English was the backup production manager for a decade before moving to Tinker full time in 2016. She’s no stranger to Tinker, having attended Tinker Elementary as a child. However, seeing the behind-the-scenes action has been incredible to her.

“I will miss seeing the warfighter mission come across my desk the most,” English said. “I'll miss learning about the amazing work that Team Tinker is doing in the maintenance areas, labs, offices, shops, clinics, hangars and on the flightlines. It's truly been an honor to lay out Tinker’s news, history and memories in the Tinker Take Off for the past four years. I’m so thankful for the opportunity I had to experience this ride.”

Though staff writers Megan Prather and Christian Tabak have not been at Tinker very long, they both say they have enjoyed getting the chance to share the stories of the men and women who work tirelessly at every level to support the Tinker mission.

“When I look through our archives and see the women working in the workshops while their husbands were deployed during World War II, I’m filled with gratitude,” Prather said. “When I look at the issues we’ve covered, I’m reminded that what we do is important and I know we’ve done our jobs. When I peruse stories we’ve covered telling others stories, I’m filled with pride.”

Tabak agreed, adding that working at the Tinker Take Off over the last year has been a truly unforgettable experience.

“I’ve had opportunities to see and report on some pretty amazing things that I otherwise would never have been able to,” he said. “Whether this was a behind-the-scenes look at the ongoing construction of the new KC-46A campus, reporting on the critical work carried out by the innumerable shops and outfits that contribute to the warfighter or highlighting the strong connection Tinker has with the local Oklahoma community, I have had a chance to see Tinker in an entirely different light.”

On behalf of the current Journal Record staff, we would like to thank all everyone our publication has had a chance to honor through the written word and photographs. Thank you for working with us and allowing us to share your ever-important work.

To all of our readers, thank you for continually supporting us and the work we do.

NOTE: Public Affairs will continue to cover the Tinker mission. Submit story ideas to 72abw.pa.workflow@us.af.mil.