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Elmendorf community mourns fallen commander

8/1/2008 - ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (AFPN) -- Airmen and members of the local community paid tribute to the 3rd Wing commander during a memorial service July 31 at Hangar 1 here.

Brig. Gen. Thomas L. Tinsley passed away July 27 at his on-base residence.

"General Tinsley was a true leader and Airmen warrior and his untimely death is a loss to the Air Force and the nation as well as to his family," said Gen. Carrol H. "Howie" Chandler, the Pacific Air Forces commander.

General Tinsley took command of the 3rd Wing in May 2007 after a 22-month assignment as the executive officer to the Air Force chief of staff. Since he took command, there have been multiple changes in the wing, including new aircraft, joint basing actions with Fort Richardson, new construction and integration of the Reserve and Alaska Air National Guard. The general worked closely with members of the 3rd Wing, from local military commanders to city, state and national leaders.

"He was a good friend to Alaska and we must not forget the valuable contributions he made to our country and state," said Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who worked with General Tinsley on several events, including the 2008 Arctic Thunder airshow.

"He poured his heart and soul into that show," said Maj. Kyle Anderson, the airshow director. "He wanted to put on the best airshow Anchorage had ever seen, as a way to say 'thank you' to the community he cared about so much. You could also see how much he loved the Air Force and aviation through his enthusiasm and world-class support for Arctic Thunder 2008."

During his command, 3rd Wing officials received the C-17 Globemaster IIIs and F-22 Raptors.

"This is a tremendous loss," said Maj. Gen. Craig E. Campbell, adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard. "General Tinsley fostered a great relationship between the Air Force and the Alaska Air National Guard."

As part of total force integration, General Tinsley worked with members of the Air National Guard to help relocate the Airmen of Kulis Air National Guard Base to Elmendorf AFB.

"General Tinsley was seen as a great friend by those of us on the Air National Guard side of the BRAC move," said Col. Charles Foster, the Alaska Guard's 176th Wing commander. "As a former squadron commander at Elmendorf, he had a thorough grasp of some of the issues we face. Most importantly, though, he regarded us as mission partners, an approach that made friends and won respect. His loss has been -- and will continue to be -- felt over here, both personally and professionally. We all miss him."

"It was an honor and a privilege to work for General Tinsley," said Airman 1st Class Matt Owens, assigned to the 3rd Wing. "He will be missed by not only me, but the rest of the Air Force."

Longtime local news anchor John Tracy said, "General Tinsley made me feel connected to Elmendorf and Fort Richardson in a way that nobody else has in my 23 years as an Alaskan. Engaging, charismatic and inspirational; rare qualities in a person, but he had them."


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