AF Heritage: Gen. Tinker still honored by native Indian tribe
By Randy RoughtonDuring the early days of World War II, an Army Air Corps major general, who was an Oklahoma native, and member of the Osage Indian tribe, was named to lead the air effort in Hawaii following Pearl Harbor.
Maj. Gen. Clarence L. Tinker managed to stay close to his tribe during his 30 plus years as a military aviator, and today, more than 70 years after his death, is still honored by that tribe.
Even after he became the Army’s highest ranking Native American, Tinker never lost his pride in his heritage, as he sometimes called home to his father George Edward Tinker, just to hear his native language.
Likewise, Tinker’s family and tribe never forgot him after his death in a mission over the Pacific in 1942–from his descendants to the Osage Nation, who still sing and dance to a song written as a tribute to Tinker, one of their most honored heroes.Clarence L. TinkerOne-eighth Osage Indian, Clarence Tinker was born on November 21, 1887 near Pawhuska, Oklahoma in the Osage Nation. His maternal grandmother was half-Osage, with both her parents being children of the marriage of Osages with Arcadian Frenchmen from Louisiana. Tinker, the eldest son of George E. Tinker and Sarah A. Schwagerte, received his elementary education in Catholic institutions at Hominy and Pawhuska, Oklahoma, and the Elgin, Kansas public school. While growing up, he worked in the print shop of the Wah-Sha-She News, Pawhuska's first newspaper, which his father founded and published. Beginning in 1900 Tinker attended the Haskell Institute, the famous Indian school in Lawrence, Kansas, but withdrew before graduating.
Eventually:After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Tinker was named Commander of the Seventh Air Force in Hawaii to reorganize the air defenses of the islands. In January 1942, he was promoted to Major General, the First American Indian in U.S. Army history to attain that rank. In June 1942, the Japanese began their assault of Midway Island. In the midst of the Battle of Midway, on June 7, General Tinker decided personally to lead a force of early model B-24s against the retreating Japanese naval forces. Near Midway Island his plane was seen to go out of control and plunge into the sea. General Tinker and eight other crewmen perished. His body was never recovered.
Comment: For more on Native military
honors, see Warrior Women on CBS
and First Female Native General
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