TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
Oklahomans far and wide who recognize Tinker Air Force Base for what it is — a national treasure — have gone out of their way so far this year to honor the base on its 75th anniversary.
Last week, that recognition reached the state Capitol, as both the House and Senate presented resolutions to Lt. Gen. Lee K. Levy II, Air Force Sustainment Center commander and the senior ranking military member in the state.
The House resolution was presented by Rep. Roger Ford, while the Senate resolution was presented by Sen. Jack Fry, both of whom represent Midwest City and eastern Oklahoma County where Tinker is located.
Levy addressed members of both chambers and those in the gallery after each resolution was presented, thanking state government, community leaders and business leaders for their steadfast support of Tinker since its inception.
He acknowledged how Oklahoma aerospace-related tax credits benefit Tinker by helping the base recruit and retain skilled aerospace workers.
“I know we are an oil and gas state first and aerospace second,” Levy said. “But, I’d like to be able to flip that on its head. We are an aerospace nation and there’s no reason Oklahoma can’t be the national leader in the aerospace industry.”
The general also thanked legislators for their efforts in helping to cultivate a STEM education ecosystem, which he said requires “strategic patience.”
“Tomorrow’s Air Force will require men and women with science, technology, engineering and math training,” he said. “The Air Force is transitioning from the iron age to the information age.
“The ability of Oklahoma to generate STEM-educated men and women will be the key to winning future battles for our country.”
Both Representative Ford and Senator Fry said they were honored to present the resolutions to Levy, who accepted them on behalf of the entire Tinker workforce — past, present and future.
“As Oklahoma’s largest single-site employer, Tinker provides jobs for approximately 30,000 military and civilian personnel, which also creates thousands of additional indirect jobs throughout the state,” Sen. Fry said.
“Today, we were honored to join them in celebrating many years of outstanding community partnership and I commend the great men and women of Tinker Air Force Base for their contributions over the years to our state and nation,” he added.
Levy said the support the base receives from government, community leaders and business leaders is “absolutely amazing.” But, he added, “in light of the strategic environment, we will continue to need your support.”
The general said he looks forward to celebrating Tinker’s 75th anniversary with state and local communities and he touted the base’s Star Spangled Salute Air Show slated for May 20-21 as one of the ways his Airmen can give back to the community that provides the base with “indispensable support.”
“Tinker Air Force Base isn’t just about the $3.7 billion impact we provide to our state,” he said. “Tinker continues to grow and thrive because of people like you and the citizens of Oklahoma. Our total force Airmen are extremely fortunate to be able to live and serve in such a great state.
“It’s no secret many of our active duty Airmen come home to Oklahoma when they retire,” he added. “Your hospitality and support to our Airmen are the key factor to Airmen choosing to remain here after they separate or retire.”
Levy said while Tinker indeed has a storied past, he said his role is to ensure the base is ready for the conflicts and challenges of tomorrow.
“As our Air Force evolves, Tinker Air Force Base will evolve with it and will continue to have a role in providing combat power to our warfighters and defending our nation,” he said. “We must continue to work together to cultivate the educational ecosystem and develop the workforce we need to protect our country.”
Levy also received a citation from Rep. Ford, recognizing him for his 32 years of service to his country and the Air Force.
Tinker was officially activated on March 1, 1942, as Oklahoma City Air Depot, and was named Tinker Field in memory of Oklahoma native Maj. Gen. Clarence L. Tinker later that same year.
Today, the AFSC, with its headquarters at Tinker, generates millions of dollars in contracts with small businesses in Oklahoma. Tinker is also home to the 507th Air Refueling Wing, the 552nd Air Control Wing, the U.S. Navy’s Strategic Communications Wing ONE and approximately 40 other associate units.