U.S. Navy's presence in landlocked Oklahoma City worth celebrating

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber will help the U.S. Navy celebrate its 240th birthday on Saturday, Oct. 3, with the annual Navy Birthday Ball at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 1700 NE 63. The ball is sponsored by the Chamber, the Navy's Strategic Communications Wing One at Tinker AFB and the Oklahoma City Navy League.

Many people may not know that the U.S. Navy has a strong presence at Tinker Air Force Base in landlocked Oklahoma, and the Chamber has a strong history of supporting aerospace and Tinker in Oklahoma City. In 1941, the Chamber led the campaign for a maintenance and supply depot to be located here and facilitated the land purchase for it. That depot became Tinker, which today has more than 26,000 military and civilian employees.

Currently, the US. Navy presence at Tinker employs more than 1,400 active duty sailors, 164 contractors and 33 U.S. Department of Defense civilians through the Navy's Strategic Communications Wing ONE/Task Force 124 stationed there.

The Wing, more informally known as TACAMO (for its Take Charge and Move Out mission), provides operational control and administrative support for several Fleet Air Reconnaissance squadrons, including Squadrons Three (VQ-3) and Four (VQ-4) that are also stationed at Tinker, and various training units. The Wing is responsible to the commander of Naval Air Forces for manning, training and equipping the Navy squadrons responsible for Nuclear Command and Control Communications to the nation's nuclear triad, according to Tinker's website.

The Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex at Tinker includes expanded phase maintenance on the Navy E-6 aircraft and the maintenance, repair and overhaul of certain Navy aircraft engines and airborne accessories, as well as the ones that the Complex handles for the U.S. Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard and others.

In addition to the Navy's local presence, a submarine currently stationed in Guam is named after Oklahoma City (pictured below). The USS Oklahoma City (SSN 723), with a motto of "The Sooner, The Better"  is currently  assigned to Commander, Submarine Squadron 15. It also has been deployed in the Persian Gulf, the Eastern Pacific in support of the War on Drugs and other locations since its commissioning in 1988.

Oklahoma City's relationship with the Navy is more than enough reason to celebrate the birthday, which starts with a 6 p.m. reception followed by a 7 p.m. dinner program on Saturday. Retired Capt. Charlie Plumb, a Navy F-4 pilot who was shot down over North Vietnam and spent 2,103 days as a prisoner of war, is the keynote speaker.

For more information, see the Navy Birthday Ball event page.

The USS Oklahoma City (SSN 723) in this U.S. Navy file photo.