Tulsan David Blankenship has enjoyed a career in which he stood at the forefront of the aerospace industry as an executive with Tulsa-based Rockwell International, where he began in the early 1960s.
In June, Blankenship was honored at Rogers State University as a distinguished alumni of Oklahoma Military Academy, which preceded Rogers State.
Blankenship graduated from Webster High School in Tulsa and attended junior college at the Oklahoma Military Academy (OMA) in 1952.
At OMA he lettered in football, basketball and baseball and also served on the Drill Team. He says making lifelong friendships remains one of his fondest memories while at OMA.
Blankenship attended the University of Tulsa and joined the Air Force ROTC, graduating in 1955. He received his wings at Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Okla. and was sworn into duty as a second lieutenant. He served three years on active duty, and as a Captain he finished his commitment to the Air Force by serving in an Air Force Reserve Unit as a pilot at Davis Field in Muskogee. During the Cuban crisis, he was recalled to active duty until the crisis ended.
In 1962, Blankenship began working with the aerospace industry (North American Aviation) when the company was moving to Tulsa. He was tapped to set up the office and hire personnel. He continued in executive positions as the company transitioned to Rockwell International and ultimately Boeing. He provided leadership in a variety of areas from hiring to training to public and government relations in the U.S. and overseas.
In retirement, he continues his past connections to Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology, where he currently serves as consultant to the CEO. He also serves on the board of Central Bank of Oklahoma.
Blankenship joined the Air Force Association and attended his first annual convention in 1967. The Air Force Association is a national organization promoting the U.S. Air Force and honoring Airman and Air Force heritage. He never missed the spring or fall meetings until 2017. He was elected to the board, elected President from 1982-83, and served as Chairman of the Board in 1984. He led the research and construction of the AFA Building in Virginia while President and dedicated it as Chairman.
He received the National Defense Service Medal in 1962, the National Management Association Leadership Award in 1967 and the Exceptional Service Medal, an honor by the Air Force for “inspirational leadership and dedicated support of strong defense through airpower.” He also is a member of the Webster High School Hall of Fame.
In 1967, Blankenship was named one of the Outstanding Men of America, and in 1973 he received the National Management Association’s Leadership Award.
Editor’s Note: The Oklahoma Military Academy operated in Claremore from 1919 to 1971, when the school transitioned to a community college and later became the known as Rogers State University. OMA was recognized as “The West Point of the Southwest” with more than 10,000 men and women attending the school during its distinguished history. The OMA Alumni Association was formed to preserve the school’s legacy. OMA Alumni have been instrumental in providing support to RSU, including both scholarships and development of the Claremore campus. To learn more, visit www.rsu.edu/OMA.