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Major General Clarence L. Tinker
7th Air Force, Headquarters, U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF)
Background
PacificWrecks.comClarence L. Tinker was born on November 21, 1887 to parents George E. Tinker and Sarah A. Schwagerte in Pawhuska, Osage County, Oklahoma. He was one-eighth Osage Indian and enrolled as a member of the Osage Nation. He attended elementary school at Catholic schools in Hominy, OK and Pawhuska, OK then attended school in Elgin, Kansas. Growing up, he worked at his father's print shop for the newspaper his father founded and published, the Wah-Sha-She News. In 1900 he enrolled in the Haskell Institute in in Lawrence, KS but withdrew before graduating. In 1906 enrolled in the Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, Missouri. After graduation he was commissioned as a third lieutenant in the Philippine Constabulary.

Wartime History
PacificWrecks.comIn May 1940, Tinker was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and Oahu, he was appointed Commander of the Air Forces in Hawaii tasked with reorganizing Hawaiian air defenses. On December 17, 1941 he hitched a ride as a passenger aboard a B-17 Flying Fortress (reportedly B-17E 41-2446) flying from Hamilton Field to Hickam Field. In January 1942 he was promoted to Major General and became Commanding Officer (C. O.) of 7th Air Force, Headquarters.

LB-30 "Old Faithful" AL633 was General Tinker's favorite bomber and used it to establish the air route from Hickam Field across the Pacific to Australia. This bomber was the first aircraft to fly the first leg of the flight from Hickam Field to Christmas Island, followed by the first aircraft ever to land at Penryhyn Airfield and Aitutaki Airfield in the Cook Islands and established the flight route to Tongatabu Airfield in Tonga.

Mission History
On June 7, 1942 during the Battle of Midway took off from Midway Airfield piloting LB-30 Liberator AL-589 leading a bombing mission against the retreating Japanese Fleet at the conclusion of the Battle of Midway. Five Liberators were to fly the mission but only four managed to take off in the predawn darkness and maintained radio silence. This Liberator led the formation the others included LB-30 Liberator AL611, LB-30 Liberator AL617 and LB-30 Liberator AL626. Returning from the mission, this bomber lagged behind, lost altitude and disappeared into clouds approximately 25 miles southwest of Midway Atoll and it was believed it spun into the sea and crashed. When this bomber failed to return it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).

Search
Afterwards, two weeks of intensive searches were conducted by air at low altitude but no trace of the bomber or any of the crew were found.

Letter from General George C. Marshall to Mrs. Tinker (circa MACR 800 page 2)
"We have hoped that the search for your husband would eventually prove successful, but I must not delay longer in expressing to you my deepest sympathy. General Tinker personally led his men in what has proved to be an historic Naval victory. He chose the most dangerous mission. He has set the highest standard for gallantry in leadership."

Awards
Tinker was rated a Command Pilot, Combat Observer and Aerial Observer. He earned Distinguished Service Medal (DSM), Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Soldier's Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Relatives
Madeline Tinker (widow of Tinker)
Clarence L. Tinker (son of Tinker) Missing In Action (MIA) in North Africa

Memorials
Tinker was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is memorialized at Honolulu Cemetery (Punchbowl) on the courts of the missing, court 5. On October 14, 1942 the Oklahoma City Air Depot was named Tinker Field in his honor, and later renamed Tinker Air Force Base (Tinker AFB).

References
USAF Major General Clarence L. Tinker (biography, photo)
New York Times "Roosevelt Names 6 Major Generals; Tinker, Head of the Air Corps in Hawaii" January 15, 1942 page 11
New York Times "Major Gen. Clarence L. Tinker" June 13, 1942 page 1
New York Times "Tinker's Death Explained; Award of D.F.C. Reveals General Died on Pacific Bomber Raid" October 25, 1942
New York Times "Gen. W.H. Hale Takes Over Tinker Air Post in Hawaii" June 24, 1942 page 11
New York Times "Gen. Tinker in Hall of Aviation" June 28, 1942 page 29
New York Times "General Tinker's Son Is Missing" May 31, 1943 page 30
New York Times "Major C.L. Tinker Jr. Missing" June 1, 1943 page 8
Missing Air Crew Report 800 (MACR 800) created September 6, 1943
(Page 3) "IV --Award, posthumous, of Distinguished Service Medal by direction of the President under the provision of the act of Congress approved July 9, 1918 (Bull. 43, W. D., 1918), a Distinguished-Service Medal is awarded posthumously by the War Department to the following named officer: Clarence L. Tinker, Major General, United States Army.
[Citation] For exceptionally meritorious service to the Government in a position of great responsibility. Assuming command of the *** [7th] Air Force, and all Army Air Forces troops in the Hawaiian Department, on December 18, 1941, his wide knowledge of Army Air Forces tactics and his inspiring leadership brought those organizations to the highest standards of training. In the early part of June 1942, he anticipated an attempted Japanese raid on Midway Island and prepared a heavy bombardment task force to participate in the repulse of the raid and the ultimate marked defeat of the Japanese attacking forces. In the final phase of this battle he personally took command of a flight on an attack mission of an extremely dangerous nature, and in the highest tradition s of the service elected to execute the mission rather than detail it to a subordinate. This gallant officer and his entire crew, all of whom volunteered to participate in the mission with full knowledge of the nature thereof, were lost at sea. Entered military service from Oklahoma. Next of Kin Mrs. Madeline Tinker (Widow), 2918 Coachman Avenue, Tampa, Florida."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Clarence L. Tinker
FindAGrave - MajGen Clarence Leonard Tinker (photos, biography, courts of the missing)
History of the Fifth Bomb Group: The Story of 5th Bombardment Group (Heavy) (1946) page 34
"Wake Island... On or about June 7 [1942] Colonel Waldron and crew of the 394th Squadron took part in a strike against Jap-held Wake Island. On this mission three enlisted men [Moeller, Scheid and Wagner] of the 394th were lost when they went down with General Clarence Tinker [aboard LB-30 Liberator AL589]."
Osage General Major General Clarence L. Tinker (1987) by James L Crowder Chapter 11 pages 328-346

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