ADA — From the safety of small towns to one of the highest ranking positions in the U.S. Army, Major General James D. Thurman has found success in his career that has spanned more than three decades. And now, selected by President George W. Bush for the appointment to the rank of lieutenant general, Thurman continues to flourish while commanding thousands of soldiers.
“It has been a true honor to serve our nation in the time of war and serve with America's sons and daughters,” Thurman said from Iraq. “The global war on terrorism is essential to preserving our liberties and freedom that we all enjoy in our country.”
Thurman received a history degree from East Central University, where he was enrolled in the ROTC program, and a Masters of arts degree from the private Webster University, in the early 1970s.
“I was one of the first officers commissioned from the four year ROTC program at East Central,” he said. “I am very proud that I graduated from East Central. If I had to do it again, I would do the same thing.”
In 1975, the Marietta-native received a regular army commission from the U.S. Army as a Second Lieutenant in Armor. From there, Thurman began his career in the 4th Infantry Division, serving as Platoon Leader, Executive Officer and Motor Officer for 6th Battalion, 32nd Armor.
“The Army has been wonderful for my wife and I for the past 31 and a half years,” he said. “We are proud that we had the opportunity to live in Ada as I was attending college from 1971 to 1975. I have wonderful memories of East Central and my college days.”
Thurman commanded at all levels from Company to Brigade. After attending the Officer Rotary Wing Aviator course, he commanded the Aero-Scout Platoon and later became the Operations Officer, A Troop, 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
From 1981 to 1982, he attended the Armor Officer Advanced Course, United States Armor School, Fort Knox, Kentucky. Upon completion, Thurman was assigned to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment from 1982 until 1985, where he was a troop commander and S-3 in the Aviation Squadron.
In June 1986, Thurman was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas, where he was the S-3 of the Apache Training Brigade until July 1988. He then served as Executive Officer, 3rd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Brigade at Fort Hood. Then in 1990, Thurman became the Executive Officer for 1st Battalion, 32nd Armor, 1st Cavalry Division and Operations Desert Shield/Storm, Saudi Arabia.
Some of Thurman's previous assignments also include Commanding General, National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Fort Irwin, Calif., Director of Training, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3, U.S. Army and Chief, Operations, Coalition Forces Land Component Command, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Camp Doha, Kuwait. He departed Kuwait to become the Director, Army Aviation Task Force, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3, United States Army, Washington, DC.
Thurman's awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal (one oak leaf cluster), the Legion of Merit (two oak leaf clusters), the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (five oak leaf clusters), the Army Commendation Medal and the Army Achievement Medal (three oak leave clusters).
Thurman will be promoted to lieutenant General (three stars) and will become the commander of the Army V Corps, U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army, which is based in Heidelberg, Germany.
Thurman previously served as the commanding general for Multi-National Division —Baghdad since January, where he commanded more than 70,000 United States service members and Iraqi Security Forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom 05-07.