Chief Thurston began his military career in 1985 by enlisting in the U.S. Air Force as an aircraft armament system specialist stationed at Shaw Air Force Base, Sumter, S.C. In 1991, he joined the Illinois Air National Guard’s 182nd Airlift Wing as an aircraft armament system specialist. Chief Thurston was selected for a fulltime position in January 1992 with the 182nd Aircraft Generation Squadron as an aircraft armament system specialist. As a result of a reduction-in-force, in 1995 Chief Thurston was reassigned to the 182nd Maintenance Squadron, where he served in roles including aerospace propulsion system specialist and aircraft engine mechanic supervisor. In 2002, he was selected as the aircraft maintenance coordinator for the 182nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and as the quality assurance superintendent for the 182nd Maintenance Group in 2004. In this role, he plans, directs, organizes, and exercises control over assigned quality assurance specialists utilizing a comprehensive knowledge of aircraft to include electronic equipment and systems, manual and automatic flight controls, airframe, landing gear, pneudraulics, jet engine propulsion, armament, munitions and associated systems.
In 2003, Chief Thurston was mobilized in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, where he served as an aerospace propulsion specialist and as the C-130 Hercules production superintendent for the 486th Air Expeditionary Wing, Southwest Asia. In 2007, Chief Thurston was mobilized to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, as the quality assurance superintendent for the 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron C-130 Hercules aircraft maintenance unit. Prior to his current position, the chief master sergeant was the aircraft chief enlisted manager, 182nd Maintenance Group, 182nd Airlift Wing, Peoria, Ill.
1986 Aircraft Armament System Specialist course, Lowry AFB, Colo.
1988 Airman Leadership School, NCO Academy Prep Course, Shaw AFB, S.C.
1995 Turboprop/Turboshaft Aerospace Propulsion Apprentice, Sheppard AFB, Texas
1996 Non-Commissioned Officer Academy, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., by correspondence
1997 Turboprop/Turboshaft Aerospace Propulsion Craftsman, Sheppard AFB, Texas
2001 USAF Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Academy, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., by correspondence
2006 Chief Executive Course, Andrews AFB, Md.
1. September 1985–August 1987, Aircraft Armament System Specialist, Shaw AFB Sumter, South Carolina
2. August 1987–May 1991, Weapons Standardization Section Lead Team Member, Shaw AFB, South Carolina
3. May 1991–May 1992, Aircraft Armament System Specialist, 182nd Aircraft Generation Squadron, Peoria, Ill.
4. May 1992–May 1995, Munitions Stan Eval Crew Member, 182nd Aircraft Generation Squadron, Peoria, Ill.
5. May 1995–May 2000, Aerospace Propulsion Specialist, 182nd Maintenance Squadron, Peoria, Ill.
6. May 2000–August 2002, Aircraft Engine Mechanic Supervisor, 182nd Maintenance Squadron, Peoria, Ill.
7. August 2002–July 2004, Aircraft Maintenance Coordinator, 182nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Peoria, Ill.
8. July 2004–April 2008, Quality Assurance Superintendent, 182nd Maintenance Group, Peoria, Ill.
9. April 2008–April 2011, Group Superintendent, 182nd Maintenance Group, Peoria, Ill.
10. April 2011–January 2017, Aircraft Chief Enlisted Manager, 182nd Maintenance Group, Peoria, Ill.
11. January 2017–Present, Aircraft Maintenance Inspector Chief Enlisted Manager, 182nd Maintenance Group, Peoria, Ill.
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Meritorious Service Medal
Air Force Commendation Medal
Air Force Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Humanitarian Service Medal
STATE AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Illinois Abraham Lincoln Medal of Freedom
Illinois Military Long and Honorable Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters
Illinois Military Attendance Ribbon with “13” device
Illinois State Active Duty Service Ribbon
1988 Below the Zone promotion
2008 Selected as 182nd Maintenance Group’s first group superintendent
PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS AND ASSOCIATIONS
National Guard Association of Illinois (Lifetime Member)
Veterans of Foreign Wars (Lifetime Member)
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
Airman Basic Sept. 4, 1985
Airman March 4, 1986
Airman First Class Jan. 4, 1987
Senior Airman March 4, 1988
Sergeant March 1, 1989
Staff Sergeant July 16, 1992
Technical Sergeant July 17, 1994
Master Sergeant June 4, 2000
Senior Master Sergeant Aug. 7, 2004
Chief Master Sergeant Sept. 11, 2006
(CURRENT AS OF MAY 2020)