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Brig. Gen. Tinsley, 3rd Wing commander at Elmendorf, dies of gunshot wound

Brig. Gen. Thomas L. Tinsley

By JEFF SCHOGOL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 28, 2008

ARLINGTON, Va. — Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Tinsley, commander of the 3rd Wing in Elmendorf, Alaska, died Sunday at his home of a gunshot wound, the Air Force announced Monday.

Air Force officials would not discuss the circumstances of Tinsley’s death, but Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Michael Paoli said there are no indications of foul play.

Tinsley, who became wing commander in May 2007, was pronounced dead at 10:30 p.m. Sunday after medical officials responded to his home on base, an Air Force news release said.

Because the incident is under investigation, no further information was available Monday, Paoli said.

Capt. Kelley Jeter, a spokeswoman for the 3rd Wing, described Tinsley as a charismatic leader who had the ability to make a lengthy briefing feel like it only lasted 10 minutes.

During one such briefing Thursday, Tinsley lit up the room by conveying his love for the wing, Jeter said.

“He was a fantastic leader,” she said. “He was a mentor to so many people. Everyone really looked up to him. He was a true airman leader.”

The Tinsley family did not have a statement for the media on Monday, said 3rd Wing spokesman Sgt. Jared Marquis.

Tinsley was commissioned in 1984 through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, according to his Air Force biography.

Before becoming wing commander at Elmendorf, he served as executive officer to the Air Force chief of staff. In another previous assignment, he served on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon.

Tinsley, who served both as an instructor and test pilot, logged more than 3,200 hours in the air during his career in the F-15, F/A-18 and F-22A.

With Tinsley's death, Air Force Col. Richard Walberg, vice wing commander, is serving as the acting commander of the wing, Jeter said.

"Elmendorf is focusing on taking care of Mrs. Tinsley and her family right now," said Walberg said in a news release. "We ask that your thoughts and prayers go out to his family as well as his Air Force family who regarded him as a mentor, leader, world-class Airman and friend."

Brig Gen. Tinsley's Air Force biography


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