In a city studded with outstanding military personnel, Col. Tamra Rank, vice superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy, stands out.
Rank hails from Clarinda, Iowa, a small town that boasts such sons and daughters as Glenn Miller, Marilyn Maxwell and World War II Medal of Honor winner Vernon Baker. But she would appear to have more in common with another Clarinda product, Norman Maclean.
The author of “A River Runs Through It” and other works of fiction — as well as several military guides he authored while serving as the director of the University of Chicago’s Institute of Military Studies — Maclean traveled widely during his academic, military and literary career. Rank too has gone far and achieved much.
A 1983 graduate of the Air Force Academy, Rank holds a master of science, system administration, from Saint Mary’s University, San Antonio. During her military career, she has been stationed on six Air Force bases, served in the Pentagon and furthered her studies in Australia. She owns as Command Pilot rating and has flown from that 3,800 hours in the KC-10 Extender, T-1 Jayhawk, T-38 Talon and C-21, according to her official biography.
During one of her assignments — at Columbus Air Force Base — her creative training style caught the attention of the editors of the Ladies Home Journal. She was included in a feature article, “Stress-Busting Moves From the Pros.” The article reported: “As a squadron commander and instructor pilot at Columbus Air Force Base, in Mississippi, Lieutenant Colonel Tamra Rank teaches pilots how to fly a T1 Jayhawk and handle the stress of a mission. Rank puts her pilots through vigorous simulated-flight training and teaches them to visualize each step of the mission before they get into the cockpit. Once airborne, they feel as if they’ve already successfully completed the task many times.”
Rank was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1999 and to Colonel in 2005. She joined the Air Force Academy in June 2010, where she serves as chief administrator to the Superintendent and is principal coordinating agent for command matters.