Edward Tankersley, 1954 graduate
Speaking openly and positively about Edward Tankersley, who died in a plane crash in 1970 with his brother Tim, might have some ramifications in the afterlife, Tom Patterson, a cousin of Tankersley, said.
“Some day in my afterlife, I will be confronted by him and he won’t be pleased,” he joked about the 2013 inductee. “He was a very private person. Getting recognition was a low priority in his life.”
Tankersley, a 1954 Dalton High School graduate who spent much of his education in Murray County, served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean and Vietnam wars. He is laid to rest at Cool Springs Baptist Church in Chatsworth.
His time in war won him the respect of many men, Patterson said. One particular pilot, Patterson remembered, told Patterson how important Tankersley was to the Air Force.
“The pilot said he wanted to give me an example of how much they thought of (Tankersley),” Patterson said. “This would be a hypothetical situation. He said, ‘If you could imagine my commander coming to me one day and saying he wanted me to do a mission and it’s going to be extremely dangerous and there’s 95 percent chance you won’t return. You have to pick someone to go with you.’ And, of course, the pilot said he would pick Edward. And the first thing Edward would have said was ‘when do we leave?’”
Patterson said hearing that kind of trust for the late Tankersley wasn’t uncommon.
“At the funeral, one of the pilots said the only reason he was alive was because (Edward) rescued him and his crew under heavy fire (during the Vietnam war),” Patterson said, adding that Tankersley “dearly loved Murray County.”
“Each time he would come home to visit, it was something he really, really treasured,” Patterson said. “He always gave in everything and every way.”