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JBSA-Lackland street renamed to honor Air Force nurse

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Gabriel Jones
  • 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas-- A street at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland was renamed May 5, 2023, to honor U.S. Air Force Capt. Mary Klinker, a flight nurse who died while serving in Vietnam.

Klinker was the last nurse and only member of the Air Force Nurse Corps to be killed in Vietnam. Klinker Street runs west of the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center.

Tracy English, 37th Training Wing historian, was part of the collaborative effort to change the name.

“With the location of the street, it made sense to name it after an Air Force Medical professional,” English said. “Capt. Mary Klinker became the obvious choice.”

During the first flight of Operation Babylift, while caring for Vietnamese orphans being transported to the United States, Klinker died when the C-5A Galaxy’s rear loading ramp locks malfunctioned causing a series of mechanical failures. The plane crashed and broke apart resulting in the deaths of 138 people, including Klinker. 

Klinker was posthumously awarded the Airman’s Medal for Heroism and the Meritorious Service Medal. Klinker is listed on Panel O1W, Row 122 of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington, D.C.

“It was a wonderful day on JBSA-Lackland,” English said. “Of the many streets we have here, we finally have a street named after a woman of significance in Air Force history.”