Maj. Gen. Joseph E. Tinkham II, a former adjutant general of the Maine National Guard and commissioner of the Maine Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management, died on Friday. He was 73.

Maj. Gen. Joseph E. Tinkham II

A South Gardiner resident, Tinkham served over 37 years in the U.S. Army and Maine National Guard, culminating in his appointment, in 2000, as adjutant general of the state guard and homeland security adviser to Gov. Angus King and later to Gov. John Baldacci. He died at the Maine VA Medical Center after a long battle with cancer, according to an obituary.

The Maine National Guard honored Tinkham in a Facebook post Sunday, saying, “Thank you, sir, for your steady leadership and devoted service to your state and country.”

Now-Sen. King, who was governor during the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, issued a statement Sunday afternoon on Twitter.

“Joe Tinkham was an honorable soldier who served his country in war and peace – he was an able Adjutant General and led our National Guard with distinction, and a friend who was by my side on 9/11 and its aftermath,” Maine’s junior senator said. “Joe served Maine well, and we’ll miss him.”

Tinkham’s military career began when he was drafted into the Army in 1966, which took him to West Germany and Vietnam as a field artillery officer. He left active duty as a captain in 1973 and later joined the Maine Army National Guard, where he rose to become commander of the state’s military forces, advising Maine’s civilian leaders as well.

He also briefly served as executive director of the Maine Veterans’ Homes. Tinkham enjoyed a quiet home life of reading and studying military history. He enjoyed telling stories to his grandchildren and watching birds over the Kennebec River, his family said.

A military viewing will be held Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Camp Chamberlain in Augusta. Because of the pandemic, attendees are asked to wear masks and keep physical distance from others. A graveside service will follow at noon.

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