By John Parker, 72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 30, 2017
Janna Newcomb, an item manager with the 421st Supply Chain Management Squadron, recently discovered a wealth of Tinker history while renovating her parent’s home in Seminole County. Her father, Joe Glenn Newcomb, was a Tinker employee for 36 years and had saved many pieces of memorabilia including a Tinker 25th Anniversary coin, several certificates, letters from Brig. Gen. Thomas Hruskocy, aircraft brochures from the 1960s and even an old, tin ashtray with a B-52 stamped into it, among many other photos and documents from long ago. (Air Force photo by Kelly White)
A coin from Tinker’s 25th Silver Anniversary. The front is a silhouette of Maj. Gen. Clarence Tinker and the back is Tinker’s emblem with the years of operational service, 1942 to 1967, at the time the coin was made. (Air Force photo by Kelly White)
A tin ashtray with Tinker’s name and a B-52 stamped into it. (Air Force photo by Kelly White)
Janna Newcomb was pulling up trim work while renovating her parents’ 50-year-old house in rural Seminole County when she spied two curious-looking spacers between two drywall panels. Round and silver, side by side.
Plucking them out, she instantly recognized them from her childhood. They were coins commemorating Tinker Air Force Base’s 25th anniversary in 1967. They were also a reminder of her father’s 36-year career there and the home he built.
“We’d had one or two floating around the house for years, and I don’t know what happened to those, but then when I found these I figured since my dad was an engineer out here, I can see him using something like that just because it was the right material and the right depth as spacers,” Newcomb said. “I don’t know if that was my dad doing the practical engineer-minded thing or what.”
Newcomb found the coins Sept. 16 during Tinker’s current 75th anniversary year. She also discovered a trove of Tinker memorabilia in the house she and her brother grew up in.
The lightweight coin is stamped on one side with a portrait of the base’s namesake, Maj. Gen. Clarence L. Tinker. The reverse notes “25 YEARS OF PROGRESS,” “SILVER ANNIVERSARY” and the dates 1942 and 1967.
Newcomb said her father, Joe Glenn Newcomb, worked a sweat-inducing summer job in 1951 welding oilfield tanks near the Cimarron River. On a lark, he interviewed for a Tinker opening.
“It was the first air-conditioned building he’d ever been in, and he was, like, I’m getting this job. I don’t care. I’m working here,” Newcomb said with a smile.
He started as a sheet metal apprentice, earning his certification as a sheet metal, glass and plastic mechanic on Oct. 15, 1956.
Her father retired as an engineer in 1988. He passed away in 2012. Newcomb never imagined she’d be working at Tinker as an F100-engine item manager with the 421st Supply Chain Management Squadron in the same building her dad worked in. The times have definitely changed.
“I remember coming here with my dad when I was a little kid and people were just sitting at their desks and smoking, and you didn’t think anything about it,” she said. Another item she found in the house was a round “Tinker Air Force Base” tin ashtray with a stamped profile of a B-52. The ash dispensers are gone; the bomber is still flying.
The other items are a sort of miniature museum of Tinker work life in the past.
- A 1964 brochure that predicts jet engines will be powering factories and “twin reactor nuclear electric” spaceships for manned planetary missions.
- A wall plaque of the Air Force Logistics Command depicting shield and wing symbols, a cogwheel and a red star.
- Pratt & Whitney 1960s promotional brochures about the company’s jet engines, including artwork that shows silhouettes of plane passengers that include one puffing away on a cigarette.
- A B-52 retirement coin denoting the “Oklahoma City Air Materiel Area.”
Newcomb also found a greeting card to her father from the man she knew as a child only as “Tom,” a friend who would hunt turkey on their 100-acre plot. “Hi, Joe, hope all is well with you all. We missed the chance to come out and see the birds. I hope the turkeys are well. God bless and we’ll hopefully see you soon,” it said.
The writer was Brig. Gen. Thomas Hruskocy. Today, a northeast Tinker gate is named after the former Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center director of material management.
Newcomb said their family’s connection to Tinker has been lifelong. She said her dad would get up before sunrise each workday to drive roughly 55 miles to Tinker and back.
“It’s always been a connection because my dad was the sole breadwinner of the family,” she said. “As far as we were concerned, Tinker supported our family through the years. And to be able to end up working out here and starting off in engineering where my dad was is amazing.”