The Tinker AFB Major Charles B. Hall Airpark is free and open to the public, generally from dawn to dusk; no pass is required. The airpark features 10 aircraft and 1 Cruise Missile on static display, memorials, monuments, statuary, exhibits on the history of Tinker AFB facilities, and a flagpole. Tours are self-guided along a central paved sidewalk with a network of paved walks branching out to individual aircraft and other features. Each aircraft/missile display has a raised concrete podium-like platform, with an angled top, upon which a bronze identification plaque is mounted. A circular concrete walk surrounds each aircraft, and bounds a lava rock bed on which the aircraft is mounted. The plaque is inscribed with the aircraft identification, information on its operational history and characteristics, affiliation with Tinker AFB, and date of dedication. The airpark has evolved between 1983 and 2013, as new features and exhibits were added. On June 18, 2002, the Tinker Heritage Airpark was renamed the Major Charles B. Hall Airpark, in honor of Major Hall, a Tuskegee Airman and highly decorated pilot from the 99th Pursuit Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group. During World War II, Major Hall was the first African-American pilot to down an enemy aircraft in combat. He flew 198 missions over Africa, Italy, and other areas of the Mediterranean and Europe. He was also the first African-American to be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Following his service, he worked at Tinker AFB from 1949-1967. On the southern brick column which supports the entrance gate to the airpark, is a black granite plaque depicting images of Major Hall standing in flight gear, with a North American P-51 “Mustang” fighter aircraft in flight. The plaque is inscribed: MAJOR CHARLES B. HALL and follows with the quotation “Freedom is not Free: Freedom must be re-purchased by every new generation.” – Gen. Daniel “Chappie” James, USAF. At the south side of the parking area is the flagpole, flying the American Flag. To the southeast of the flagpole, down a walkway and behind a grove of trees, is The Air Force Medal of Honor Memorial. The memorial features a series of 5 vertically-mounted reddish and gray granite tablets, supported by metal poles and supports, and mounted in concrete. The display sits at the edge of a bricked patio, with 4 white concrete stools framing 2 wooden benches for seating, with a backdrop of trees and the Flagpole. A low concrete border helps define the Memorial boundaries. The middle tablet is hexagon-shaped, larger and raised higher that the adjoining tablets, displays the USAF Seal, and identifies the Memorial as: THE AIR FORCE MEDAL OF HONOR MEMORIAL. Also inscribed is: THE MEDAL OF HONOR, OUR NATION’S HIGHEST MILITARY AWARD, WAS GIVEN TO 58 AIRMEN WHO FOUGHT IN WORLD WAR I, WORLD WAR II, KOREA AND VIETNAM. THIS GROVE SERVES AS A LIVING TESTIMONY TO THEIR BRAVERY, UNSELFISHNESS, AND DEVOTION TO COUNTRY. THE MEMORIAL IS DEDICATED IN THEIR HONOR AND PRESERVES THE VALUABLE HERITAGE OF THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE AND TINKER AFB, OKLAHOMA. DEDICATED 1997 The other 4 tablets are uniformly smaller and mounted at the same height. They identify the war era, rank, and name of recipients of the Medal of Honor, listed within a gray granite frame on each reddish tablet. From viewing left to right, they are: The first tablet combines both World War I and World War II eras. For WWI, 4 recipients are listed; and for WWII, 13 are listed. The second tablet continues with WWII recipients, and lists 25. The third tablet identifies 4 Korean War recipients. The fourth tablet records 14 Vietnam War recipients. (Note: In total, 60 recipients are listed which implies that 2 have been added since the Memorial was dedicated in 1997. The last name on the Vietnam War list apparently has been added, as the font style and size are noticeably different.) Proceeding east from the parking area along the main walk, the aircraft and features are displayed in the following sequence on the tour route: Vought A-7D “Corsair II” attack aircraft, Republic F105D “Thunderchief” fighter-bomber aircraft, Tuskegee Airman Memorial, Boeing RB-47E “Stratojet” aerial photographic reconnaissance aircraft, Lockheed C-141 “Starlifter” transport aircraft Monument, Rosie The Riveter Monument, Douglas C-47 “Skytrain” transport aircraft, Northrop Grumman EA-6B “Prowler” electronic warfare aircraft, 3 Tinker historical facilities displays, Boeing C-135 “Stratolifter” transport aircraft, McDonnell-Douglas F-4D “Phantom II” fighter-bomber aircraft, an open-air shelter, Boeing B-29 “Superfortress” heavy bomber aircraft, First Tornado Forecast Monument, Boeing B-52D strategic bomber aircraft, General Dynamics AGM-129 Advanced Cruise Missile (ACM) monument, Rockwell B-1 “Lancer” strategic bomber aircraft, and the Tinker Air Force Base POW / MIA Memorial. The Tuskegee Airman Memorial sits along the main tour walkway and features a bronze statue of a Tuskegee Airman standing and pointing. The statue is mounted on a bronze plate and anchored on a circular concrete pad, within a segmented circular sloping concrete wall. The wall has entry points at the four cardinal compass points. At the west entry point, mounted on the north inside wall is a polished black granite tablet inscribed: “Major Charles B. Hall & The Tuskegee Airmen. On 2 July 1943, then 1Lt. Charles B. Hall of Brazil, Indiana, a Tuskegee Airman trained at Tuskegee Field, AL, earned the distinction of being the first African-American to shoot down an enemy aircraft from his P-40 fighter over Tunisia, North Africa. Major Charles B. Hall went on to score a total of three aerial victories in combat. Major Hall moved to Oklahoma City after his military service and worked at Tinker Air Force Base for the Federal Aviation Administration until his death on 22 November 1971. Tuskegee Airmen were awarded a total of 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 744 Air Medals, 8 Purple Hearts and 14 Bronze Stars for their service in combat. The full measure of their efforts, buoyed by their tenacity in the face of overwhelming odds, rampant discrimination and often deplorable conditions and treatment, is a testimony to the integrity of the Tuskegee Airmen. Indeed, the success of these airmen contributed greatly to the eventual racial integration of the US military. This site is dedicated to Major Charles B. Hall and the Tuskegee Airmen of WWII.” The tablet also displays images of a P-51 fighter aircraft in the upper left corner, and an unfurled American Flag in the lower right corner. At the east entry point, on the south inside wall, is another polished black granite tablet inscribed: “The Tuskegee Airmen Memorial was made possible by the dedication and funding support of the following sponsors:” (Note: Listed are 23 associations, foundations, companies, and local businesses and entities). The tablet is further inscribed: “A special thanks to the sculptor Joel Randell November 2007”. The grounds and lawn immediately around the Memorial’s outside wall have been sloped upward to give the impression of the site being on higher ground. A large C-141 “Starlifter” Monument is positioned immediately to the south of the main tour walkway. It is a 2-tiered, red granite structure which rests on an embedded concrete footing. The top tier is vertically-oriented, with a pointed top and resembles a stylized arrowhead. It is incised with a front-view representation of a C-141 aircraft, and five images of military insignia representing, from left to right, 1741st Air Transport Squadron, Military Air Transport Service, 1707th Air Transport Wing, Military Airlift Command, and 57th Military Airlift Squadron. Also inscribed on the tier is: “C-141 “Starlifter” Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. The C-141 arrived at its first operational site, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, on 19 October 1964. It was flown by the 1707th Air Transport Wing, 1741st Air Transport Squadron, until the unit was inactivated on 8 January 1966. The 57th Military Airlift Squadron was activated the same day. Donated by the 57th Alumni Association.” The bottom tier is a large, horizontal slab of reddish granite upon which the top tier rests. The “Rosie The Riveter” Monument is located on the lawn north of the main tour walkway, about halfway along the path leading to the C-47 aircraft exhibit. It features a bronze bust of the WWII mythical female character created to inspire and symbolize women workers in US factories. The bust shows a woman in work clothes and wearing a bandana on her head. She strikes a pose with her right arm bent at the elbow and raised upward with a fist, and her left arm reaching across her body with her hand holding her right bicep. The pose conveys strength, determination, stamina, competency, and patriotism. The bust is mounted on a vertically-raised rectangular block of pinkish granite, which rests on a concrete pad. A bronze plaque is mounted on the granite front wall and is engraved: “Rosie the Riveter” “The image of “Rosie the Riveter” represented the vast number of female workers who filled jobs vacated by the men fighting in World War II. Their spirit of “we can do it” inspired not only their contemporaries on the home front but each subsequent generation of working women in all fields of employment. More than ten thousand Oklahoma women worked at the Douglas Aircraft Company and Tinker Field during this crucial period in the nation’s history. Dedicated March 23, 2000 Donated by the Tinker AFB Heritage Foundation”. Three large information boards provide historical and factual data concerning Tinker AFB Historic Buildings, a location map, and facilities of the Douglas Aircraft Company Plant. The boards are located together immediately south of the main tour walkway, between the C-47 and C-135 displays, and feature steel poles with attached steel frames, which enclose and protect the information boards. An adjacent bench permits viewing and offers rest. A First Tornado Forecast Memorial is located within the display area of the B-29 aircraft on the east side. It commemorates the 50th anniversary of that event. Inscribed on the monument is a logo with the wording: “Tornado Forecasting 50 (years) Tinker AFB 1948-1998 Norman, OK First Tornado Forecast March 25, 1948” The monument is further inscribed: “This memorial is dedicated to the first operational tornado forecast issued on March 25, 1948, by Major Ernest J. Fawbush and Captain Robert C. Miller at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Issued several hours before a tornado struck Tinker Air Force Base, this first forecast proved severe weather could be anticipated with a reasonable degree of accuracy. This event focused national attention on forecasting tornadoes and warning the public of their potential danger. Severe weather pioneers, Major Fawbush and Captain Miller, developed tornado forecasting techniques still used today. The 1948 tornado forecast was the forerunner of today’s national severe weather forecasting and research program that protects lives and serves the American people. Dedicated March 25, 1998.” The Tinker Air Force Base POW / MIA Memorial is located at the far eastern end of the Airpark and is a multi-faceted display of monuments and memorials relating to Prisoners of War (POW) and those Missing in Action (MIA). All elements of the Memorial rest on a concrete patio surrounded by lawn, foliage and decorative plantings. Flood lights are used for night illumination of the Flag and Memorial features. The centerpiece is a vertical isometric “chevron” design monument of polished black granite, consisting of 3 joined pillars. The face of the central pillar bears the title “TINKER AIR FORCE BASE POW / MIA MEMORIAL,” above a representation of the Prisoner of War (POW) Medal. Beneath the medal is inscribed the quotation: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty…” The quote is then attributed to President John F. Kennedy on January 20, 1961. The central pillar is crested with a bronze eagle in flight, with the base of the bronze wrapped in a multi-colored cloth. The left-wing (north) pillar of the “chevron” features picture representations of crowds of people with signs welcoming ex-POWs home, a group of POWs standing in a formation, a POW being interviewed while in captivity, an ex-POW being reunited with his wife upon his return to the States, a returning serviceman saluting a greeting Officer upon his return, a picture of 4 POWs in a “line-up” style picture, a returning officer holding his infant child, a serviceman embracing his wife after deplaning at Andrews AFB, and 2 ex-POWs enjoying food and drink after their release. The right-wing (south) pillar of the “chevron” features pictures of 5 aircraft in flight in a “missing man” formation, an American Flag flying, an aircraft formation in flight, a POW/MIA banner, a ceremonial “empty table” display to honor those unable to attend, a picture of rows of caskets draped with American Flags aboard a transport aircraft returning deceased servicemen to American soil, a POW/MIA bracelet in honor of a serviceman unaccounted for, and a single “dog tag” identification tag used to identify and mark casualties. Three brick and concrete benches are located to the front (west), left (north), and right (south) of the central feature to afford rest and multiple viewing angles for visitors. On the rear of the central monument is inscribed: “This memorial was made possible by the generous contributions of:” (Note: 8 committees, businesses, city agencies, and individuals are recognized) “ Dedicated 17 September 2004” (Note: the Executive Director of the National League of POW/MIA Families dedicated the memorial.) Behind the central monument is a tall bricked wall with a concrete cap, displaying 3 polished black granite plaques. Near the top, toward the outer edges, is one plaque titled “POW” on the left (north) and a second plaque titled “MIA” on the right (south). In the center of the wall is a third plaque with a POW/MIA emblem and the words: “You Are Not Forgotten,” and other dedicatory information. Centered between the central monument and the wall is a flagpole that flies the POW/MIA Flag. In front (west) of the wall on the left (north) and right (south) are 2 triangular-shaped polished black granite stands with pictorial images and inscriptions. The left stand’s theme is the Hanoi Hilton prison, where American POWs were held during the Vietnam War, and shows pictures of the main entrance of the prison, and a torture chamber on one side. On the other side is the inscription: “The Hanoi Hilton” “This brick is an original piece of the infamous “Hanoi Hilton.” The Hanoi Hilton was used as a place for the North Vietnamese Army to torture and interrogate captured soldiers, mostly Americans, mainly pilots shot down during bombing raids. When prisoners of war began to be released from this and other North Vietnamese prisons in the late 1960s and early 1970s, their testimonies revealed widespread and systematic abuse of all American Prisoners of War. With this brick we can be assured that their sacrifices will never be forgotten.” The brick being referred to, is mounted on top of the stand in a glass enclosure, with a small identification plate. The right stand’s themes are POWs and The Code of Conduct. On the left (north) side is a captioned image of 5 American POWs behind bars at the Hanoi Hilton prison. On the right (south) side is inscribed: “Prisoner of War * Code of Conduct,” followed by Articles I – VI of the Code, enumerated and defined. Mounted on top of the stand is a bronze statue of 2 POWs walking, with one assisting the other. The one being assisted carries a long walking staff for support in his right hand. On the east end of the patio, on the south periphery, is a small framed dark gray plaque mounted on a concrete base and inscribed: “In Memory of Staff Sergeant Elmer “Larry” Holden HH-3 “Jolly Green 23” Flight Engineer MIA 9 June 1968 Found 9 Nov 2002 Repatriated 14 Feb 2003”. (Note: Tinker AFB is named for Major General Clarence L. Tinker, a native Oklahoman who lost his life while on a combat mission against Wake Island in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater, during World War II.) (Note: The commonly used term “Dog Tag,” refers to military identification tags issued to service personnel. They are worn in combat, during field training, aerial flight, and other circumstances where they could be used to identify the wearer. They have personnel information about the individual, including name, service number, blood type, and religious preference. Tags are normally issued in sets of two to permit one to be collected from the individual, as circumstances warrant, and one to remain with the individual. (Note: The Code of Conduct is official guidance for the behavior of members of the Armed Forces of the United States, both on the battlefield and also while in captivity.)
Organization Responsible for Installation:
Memorial War Era(s):
Tinker AFB, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma 73145. Access at the Tinker Gate/Air Depot Boulevard exit to Tinker Air Force Base, off Interstate Highway I-40/US Hwy 270, south of Midwest City, Oklahoma. The Airpark is located east of the Visitor Center (Building 6611), prior to arrival at the Federally-controlled access entrance - Tinker Gate. Enter the Visitor Center parking area and proceed east across the lot to the east exit onto S. Air Depot Boulevard. Cross the 1-way (outbound) Boulevard and enter an iron-gated parking area to the immediate front (east). An entry sign identifies Major Charles B. Hall, for whom the Airpark is named. The Airpark is also easily distinguishable by a number of Air Force aircraft on display and a flagpole.
Published on October 10, 2017