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Veterans Table - Colonel James R. Tinkham Part 1

Published: Nov. 13, 2020 at 8:25 AM EST
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -

Tinkham: “Well, that was when Uncle Sam found out I wasn’t a full time student, and I got my draft notice. And then 40 years later, I retire!”

Robert: Retired, Colonel James R. Tinkham recalls his longstanding and celebrated 40 year military career with the U.S. Army and the Maine Army National Guard. Tinkham is one of 45 Veterans who served from the Fort Fairfield High School Class of 1967 and one of the 23 classmates who was actively deployed to the Vietnam War. Tinkham remembers the day he got the call from Uncle Sam.

Tinkham: “My brother was home on leave -- he was already on active duty in the Army. It was him and my father, brought me at lunchtime where I was working -- they brought me my draft notice. They knew what it was, you couldn’t miss it. So I opened it up and sure enough -- you know, they wanted me to report. And my brother told me at the time, that there was a new program where they were recruiting high school graduates to go to Warrant Officer Flight training.”

Robert: On May 14th, 1968, Tinkham opted to enlist in the Army for six years, and avoided the draft in order to attend flight school and ultimately train in becoming an Army Helicopter pilot.

Tinkham: “What I didn’t realize was about the first month of flight school, you never looked at a helicopter. It was all about drill and ceremony, and they wanted to instill a fact -- and they wanted to see if you really wanted to fly bad enough.”

Robert: Despite the intensity of initial training, it’s where Tinkham began developing his passion for flying -- taking him to Vietnam and his military career beyond.

Tinkham: “Once they got through and they weeded out the group of flight candidates to a manageable number, then we started doing the initial flying and ground school -- which was a lot of fun. Even though they continued to sort of harass you and pick at you a little bit with inspections, and marching, and running and so forth. They did train you very well and mentally prepared you what you were going to see next. Pilots that graduated, everybody within the better part of a month, was over in Vietnam serving.”

Robert Grimm, Newsource 8.

...In an upcoming edition of Veterans Table, Colonel Tinkham recounts more of his active duty during Vietnam, and his several years of honored service following the war...

[Interview: --Col. James R. Tinkham | U.S. Army & Maine Army National Guard, Retired]

Aired: November 5, 2020

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