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Native American Veteran and Canadian aboriginal veteran List.

clarence leonard tinker

Major-General Clarence Leonard Tinker (November 21, 1887 - June 7, 1942) (Osage) was a US Army career officer, the highest ranking Amerindian officer and the first to attain this rank. During the Second World War, he was appointed commander of the seventh air force in Hawaii to reorganize the air defenses.

He flew to direct a force during the Battle of Midway in June 1942; his plane became out of control and was lost in the ocean. He was the first general to be killed in the war. Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma is named in his honor.

Tinker received his commission as a lieutenant in the US Army Infantry in March 1912. After training with the infantry, Tinker joined the Twenty-Fifth Infantry Regiment at Fort George Wright in Spokane, Washington. In 1913, his unit was transferred to Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. He met and married Madeline Doyle from Halifax, Nova Scotia. During the First World War, Tinker served in the southwestern United States and California and was promoted to major.

In 1919, Tinker began taking flying lessons. One of his missions after the war was with the ROTC at Riverside High School in California. When his father came to visit him at school, they started a conversation at Osage in public. Using one's mother tongue was a way for Tinker to express his identity as an Osse.

In 1922 he was transferred to the Army Air Service. On July 1, 1922, he was posted to the flight service. For a time, Tinker served as an air attache at the US Embassy in London. He studied at the Command and Staff College of the Army in the same class as Dwight D. Eisenhower.

In 1927, he was appointed Commander of the Air Service Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, Texas. Tinker commanded various pursuit and bombing units during the 1930s. He was regularly promoted, and on 1 October 1940, became a brigadier general.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Tinker was appointed commander of the seventh largest air force in Hawaii to reorganize the island's air defenses. He believed that the Air Force was going to be critical for the entire war, and that Japan would eventually be defeated by a long-term aerial effort. In January 1942, he was promoted to Major General, the first American Indian in the history of the US Army to obtain this rank.

In June 1942, the Japanese began their assault on Midway Island. In the middle of the Battle of Midway on June 7, General Tinker decided to lead a force of the first B-24s of the 31st Bombing Squadron against the retreating Japanese Naval Forces. Near Midway Island, his plane lost control and plunged into the sea. General Tinker and ten other crew members perished. The plane and the bodies have never been recovered.

General Tinker's son was also lost at sea while participating in an air fight with German planes in 1944.