TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – The life of late Chief Master Sgt. George R. Tucker is a storied one.
Born on April 22, 1937, Tucker was the 14th child born of Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Tucker’s 15 children. From the outset of his development into a chief master sergeant, Tucker was a hard worker.
“He was very much a ‘get it done’ kind of guy,” said Sgt. Maj. James Marinucci, Tucker’s grandson. “If there was ever a committee someone needed to take the lead on, he would be the one everyone would just naturally look to. He was known for good work, and he would always deliver on that.”
Despite a rocky start to his enlistment where he found himself taking an additional detail heading his squadron mailroom at then-Schilling Air Force Base, Kansas, Tucker would eventually find himself serving overseas in Greenland, Germany, England and France as non-commissioned officer in charge of the shops he worked in.
A rubber products repairman by trade, Tucker’s hard work finally paid off, when in 1964, he was assigned to the 60th Maintenance Squadron at Travis AFB where he held many key leadership positions such as survival equipment shop superintendent, fabrication branch chief, field maintenance squadron superintendent and, finally, senior enlisted advisor to the 60th Military Airlift Wing commander, a position Tucker would hold until his retirement in January 1985.
It was Tucker’s contributions to the U.S. Air Force and, in particular, his contributions to the 60th MXS that the decision was made to immortalize his legacy through the rededicating of the 60th MXS heritage room, said Master Sgt. Dominic R. Durgin Rodriguez, 60th MXS section chief of aircraft metals technology.
“When it comes to the culture of the U.S. Air Force, Chief Tucker was a cultural icon,” said Durgin Rodriguez. “If there was ever a hall of fame for an enlisted man, all anyone would have to do is take a look around this heritage room and they’d be in it. It’s been an honor for us, the 60th MXS, to bring Chief Tucker back home.”
The heritage room went through a complete renovation for the rededication and now includes Military Airlift Wing memorabilia, career pictures of Tucker and his family, three TVs and a kitchen with a customized food and beverage bar; exclusively for the aircraft maintainers of the 60th MXS.
Also in attendance during the rededication ceremony was Chief Master Sgt. (ret.) James “Andy” Anderson who, 53 years ago, arrived at Travis AFB with Tucker.
“It was an easy enough thing to admire the guy,” said Anderson. “I remember one day asking another Airman if there was anything George did not know about or if there was anything that he was not involved in. The Airman replied ‘George knows all and can handle any task thrown at him.’ In essence, he said that when God said ‘let there be light,’ it was George who flipped the switch. He was a man whose integrity was flawless, and he’s a man with who my association with I will always be thankful for.”
More so than the 60th MXS itself, it’s Travis AFB as a whole that his family and friends feel to be his legacy. Of all the programs, committees, initiatives and advancements Tucker was instrumental in, it was the effect he had on the Airmen on base and on the Travis culture that is, in some ways, more tangible.
“Simply riding around on base or even around Fairfield, there is so much of my father there,” said Michelle Marinucci, Tucker’s daughter. “It’s been 12 years since he’s passed away, but being here and knowing that much of this was thanks to him—realizing that the look these Airmen give me when they shake my hand is the same look I’d see on my father when he’d shake someone’s hand—makes me feel as though he hasn’t truly left. Not while there are Airmen here who embody his spirit and his vision of this squadron.”
For Durgin Rodriguez, though, the rededication is meant not only as a way of memorializing Tucker, but also as a way to inspire more enlisted Airmen to reach the heights he did.
“I hope that Team Travis takes with them the importance of our enlisted heritage,” said Durgin Rodriguez. “I am a firm believer that by honoring this amazing chief, it will reassure the importance of the stripes and inspire even the most junior Airman to reach the top.”