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ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (AP) — The officer who commands an air force wing in Alaska has died of a gunshot wound that likely was self-inflicted, authorities said Monday.
Brig. Gen. Thomas L. Tinsley suffered a gunshot wound to his chest late Sunday night and was pronounced dead within a half hour, said Col. Richard Walberg, who assumed command at Elmendorf Air Force Base after Tinsley’s death.
The weapon was likely a handgun, Walberg said.
Medical responders who rushed to Tinsley’s home on base were unable to save him. Tinsley’s wife and college-age daughter were home at the time.
Tinsley was named base commander in May 2007. He had served as an F-15 instructor pilot, F-15C test pilot, wing weapons officer, exchange officer and instructor with the Royal Australian Air Force.
His previous 22-month assignment was executive officer to the Air Force chief of staff, Gen. T. Michael “Buzz” Mosely, who resigned in June under pressure in an agency shake-up.
Mosely, the Air Force military chief, and Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne, the agency’s civilian head, were held accountable for failing to fully correct an erosion of nuclear-related performance standards. One concern was a cross-country flight in August of a B-52 carrying armed nuclear weapons.
Walberg said Tinsley was not under investigation or undue stress.
“As far as stress, sir, this job, by nature of being an Air Force officer in a nation at war, is stressful,” he said. “Undue stress, no.”
Representatives of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology will do a report and declare whether Tinsley’s cause of death was suicide, Walberg said. Such reports take about 30 days.