Stillwater News Press

Local News

July 5, 2013

Courage Under Fire: Tom Kinnick



Coming home

Kinnick’s service spanned 22 years before he retired as a Master Chief Petty Officer, earning a college degree and numerous medals along the way. When he was promoted to his final rank, he was one of only 12 in the United States Navy serving as a Master Chief Intelligence Specialist.

“The military is not for everybody but it was great for me,” Kinnick said.  

He said his wife put up with all the moving and took care of the kids by herself, acknowledging it’s a tough life for families but “my wife is a jewel. You have to be aware of what you’re getting into and go with your eyes wide open.”

With two brothers in the Navy when he enlisted, Kinnick knew what he was getting into.

“It’s not something you do and then wake up the next day and say you’re going to quit,” he said.

Kinnick said you sign a contract — and you have to persevere.

“During the Vietnam years, we were shunned in our uniforms,” Kinnick said. “Some didn’t think the same way as me but they had the right to protest. I was there to promote their right to protest and I knew I would do what I could to protect their freedom to do that.”

When he retired from the Navy, the Kinnicks returned to Stillwater where he taught at Stillwater High School and Priscilla taught at Stillwater Middle School as well as at SHS.  Kinnick brought real world experiences to his social studies classes and was named “Teacher of the Year” in 1989 before serving as athletic director. Although he retired from teaching, he is still working developing the property that has been in his family for nearly a century.

Traveling around the world and back, the Navy taught him to love his home even more.

“Whatever may be wrong with the United States we are so far ahead of most countries in the world,” Kinnick said, “and that is why people want to come to America.”


Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News