TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
Financial Management Airmen from across Tinker Air Force Base budgeted a bit of time and energy Jan. 27 to honor a fellow comptroller.
Members of the 72nd Comptroller Squadron and 552nd Air Control Wing Comptroller Office joined CPTS units across the Air Force in running a 5k to remember Col. James “Rob” Culpepper on what would have been his 49th birthday. Culpepper, who was the director of Financial Management and Comptroller for Air Combat Command at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, lost his six-month battle with acute myeloid leukemia on Dec. 17, 2020.
“We are out here today because I wanted you to know who Colonel Culpepper was and what he stood for,” 72nd CPTS Commander Maj. Benjamin Wright told those who braved the cold to participate. “There aren’t many of us in our career field of Financial Management and when we lose one, it matters. Every one of you matters.”
Culpepper, a 1995 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, held several command and staff positions at air staff, major command and wing levels. He also served as a deployed comptroller for the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing and was the detachment commander of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in Thailand.
“Det 1 does accountability of people,” Wright said. “Not dollars and cents, we’re talking about actual people. We, to this day still go out there – and Colonel Culpepper was leading the team – to account for those individuals who were lost and still haven’t come home.”
Though he was never stationed at Tinker, Wright said Culpepper did have a unique tie to Oklahoma.
“The same day Colonel Culpepper died, the remains for Navy Fireman 1st Class Beoin H. Corzatt, who served on the USS Oklahoma and was killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor, were recovered,” Wright said. “The same day Colonel Culpepper would have celebrated his 49th birthday – today – Det 1 released the announcement that he was being brought home.
“That’s the real reason I wanted you to come out here and be a part of this 5k. I want you to know that every single one of you as Airmen matter. We live our Creed and until every service member comes home, our job is not finished.”