Retired Feb. 28, 1953. Died July 22, 1993.
Arthur Thomas was born in Zanesville, Ohio, in 1894. He graduated from St Louis University with a bachelor of laws degree in 1917. In July of that year he enlisted as a sergeant in the Aviation Section of the Signal Reserve, and the following November was appointed a first lieutenant in the Signal Reserve. His first service was at Fort Omaha, Neb.
In July 1918 General Thomas moved to Camp Knox, Ky., to command the 31st Balloon Company. He subsequently assumed command of Godman Field, Ky., in addition to his other duties, and was appointed a first lieutenant of Air Service in the Regular Army July 1, 1920. He transferred to Langley Field, Va., as adjutant of the Airship School until July 1922 when he went to Scott Field, Ill., as secretary and instructor at the Air Service Balloon and Airship School.
General Thomas, in March 1924, entered the Air Service Primary Flying School at Brooks Field, Texas, and graduated the following September. He then attended the Air Service Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, Texas, graduating in March 1925. His next assignment was at Kindley Field, Philippine Islands, where he served as adjutant and personnel adjutant of the Second Observation Squadron.
In February 1927 General Thomas was assigned to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where he became information officer of the 12th Observation Squadron. The following July he became an instructor at the Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field. From July 1 to November 1928, he served as secretary at the school, after which he was appointed commandant of cadets. He again became secretary at the school in July 1929, serving until May 1931, when he was appointed adjutant of the Air Corps Training Center at Duncan Field, Texas. He later moved with the center to Randolph Field, Texas.
General Thomas, in August 1933, entered the Air Corps Tactical School at Maxwell Field, Ala. Upon graduation a year later he became an instructor with the 35th Aviation Division of the Missouri National Guard at St. Louis, and Lambert Field, successively. During this tour of duty, in July and August 1936, he was an executive on the staff of the chief of aviation for the Second Army with headquarters at Chicago, Ill.
In August 1938 General Thomas became assistant to the assistant chief of staff for materiel at General Headquarters Air Force at Langley Field, and subsequently moved to Bolling Field, D.C., as assistant to the assistant chief of staff for materiel at the Air Force Combat Command. In February 1942 he was assigned to the Materiel Section of the War Department General Staff.
General Thomas in June 1942 was appointed AAF liaison officer with the Service of Supply, European theater, and executive officer of the Materiel Section there. The following September he was named chief of staff of the 12th Air Force Service Command, with which he served at London, England, and Algiers. In September 1943 he assumed command of Third Air Service Area command in Sicily, and the following month was appointed commander of the 12th Air Force Service Command, which he commanded in Italy, Corsica and Southern France until February 1945. He then was named assistant chief of staff for materiel of the Mediterranean Allied Air Force at Cassorta, Italy, and in June 1945 became deputy commander of that organization.
In September 1945 General Thomas became deputy commanding general for supply and procurement of the Air Technical Training Command at Wright Field, Ohio. In September 1947 he was assigned as commanding general of the Marianas Air Materiel Area on Guam. He was transferred to Japan in June 1948, as commander of the Far East Air Materiel. In September 1949 he was named chief of the Air Force Procurement Field Office at New York City. In March 1951 his title was changed to commanding general of the Eastern Air Procurement District, also at New York City.
General Thomas has been awarded the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, the Bronze Star Medal, and the Army Commendation Ribbon. His foreign decorations include the Order of the British Empire (Commander), the French Legion of Honor (Commander) and Croix de Guerre with Palm and the Italian Order of St. Marius and Lazarus. He is rated a command pilot, balloon pilot, combat observer, technical observer and balloon observer.