Sunday, October 22, 2017
On May 4, 1973, a political ad ran across a page of The Daily Oklahoman, shouting and pleading in black and bold font: “SAVE TINKER NOW!”
Approval was needed from county voters to purchase $10.8 million in land near the Air Force base's main runway. The ad contained testimonials from federal representatives fearful of what would happen if residents voted no.
“We can kiss Tinker goodbye” if the bonds are voted down, U.S. Sen. Dewey Bartlett wrote. House Speaker Carl Albert said, “I can think of hardly anything that could be more devastating” to Oklahoma than Tinker's closure. U.S. Sen. Dewey Bartlett called Tinker “a lifeblood” for Oklahoma.
The bond issue was successful and Tinker remained open, eluding the first of several closure threats that would follow over the next four decades. In each instance, Oklahoma County would remind itself of the economic impacts of Tinker, the state's largest employer.
“Midwest City hasn't had a lot of industry here outside of the base,” said Robert Coleman, the city's economic development director. “So, the base provides a tremendous amount of wealth for the city.”