JUNE 7, 1942


Born on November 21, 1887, in the former Osage Nation, Indian Territory, Tinker graduated from Wentworth Military Academy, Lexington, Missouri, in 1908.  Initially commissioned a third lieutenant in the Philippine Constabulary, in 1912, he was commissioned in the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant.  In 1922, Tinker transferred to the Air Corps where, in 1940, he became a brigadier general—the first Native American to reach that rank.  After devising plans to protect the Panama Canal in the event of Japanese aggression, Tinker took command of the Hawaiian Department following their attack on Pearl Harbor.  Promoted to major general in early 1942, he was in charge of the newly created Seventh Air Force at Hickam Field, Hawaii.  He died leading a raid on Wake Island when his plane crashed at sea.  Tinker was the first American general to die in World War II.  Posthumously, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.  Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is named in his honor. 

Source:  “Tinker, Clarence Leonard (1887-1942),” Oklahoma Historical Society.  Retrieved 5/8/2020, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=TI005
Photo:  U.S. War Department, pre-1942.  Public Domain.  

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