Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Arthur S. "Sam" Thomas is chief of the chaplain service, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. As a member of the special staff of the chief of staff, he advises on all matters that pertain to the religious and moral welfare of Air Force personnel. Also, he is responsible for establishing an effective total chaplain program that will meet the religious needs of all members of the Air Force. As chief of the chaplain service, he is the senior pastor of a combined active duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian force of more than 850,000 people serving at approximately 1,300 locations in the United States and overseas. He leads an Air Force Chaplain Service of approximately 2,200 chaplains and enlisted support personnel from the active and Air Reserve components. As a member of the Armed Forces Chaplains Board, he and the other members function as advisers to the secretary of defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on religion, ethical and quality of life concerns.
The chaplain is a native of Mankato, Minn., where he attended high school and college. He was an enlisted member of the Minnesota National Guard from November 1953 through January 1955. Enlisting in the Air Force in January 1955, he served as a Russian language specialist at Wakkanai Air Station, Japan, until 1958. After attending St. Procopius Seminary in Lisle, Ill., Chaplain Thomas was ordained in 1965 as a Roman Catholic priest for the diocese of New Ulm, Minn., where he served as a parish priest. In November 1968 he was commissioned as a chaplain, first lieutenant, and reported to March Air Force Base, Calif.
1960 Bachelor of arts degree in sociology, Mankato State University, Minn.
1974 Master's degree in applied theology, Graduate Theological Union, University of California, Berkeley
1. September 1955 - March 1956, student, Russian language, Presidio of Monterey, Calif.
2. April 1956 - July 1958, Russian language specialist, Wakkanai Air Station, Japan
3. December 1968 - July 1970, Catholic chaplain, 22nd Combat Support Group, March Air Force Base, Calif.
4. August 1970 - July 1971, Catholic chaplain, 5008th Support Squadron, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, where he served as a remote site circuit rider chaplain
5. August 1971 - May 1973, Catholic chaplain, 306th Combat Support Group, McCoy Air Force Base, Fla.
6. May 1973 - April 1974, Air Force Institute of Technology, University of California, Berkeley
7. May 1974 - July 1976, Catholic chaplain, 3380th Air Base Group, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.
8. August 1976 - February 1978, Catholic chaplain, 18th Combat Support Group, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa
9. March 1978 - April 1980, Catholic chaplain, 76th Air Base Group, Andrews Air Force Base, Md.
10. May 1980 - July 1982, first director of the Ministry to Chaplains Program, USAF Chaplain School, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
11. August 1982 - July 1984, senior Catholic chaplain, 86th Tactical Fighter Wing, Ramstein Air Base, West Germany
12. August 1984 - June 1987, chief, education and professional development division, Office of the Command Chaplain, Headquarters Tactical Air Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va.
13. July 1987 - August 1990, command chaplain, Air Force Logistics Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio
14. August 1990 - November 1991, command chaplain, Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.
15. November 1991 - August 1995, deputy chief of Air Force chaplains, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
16. August 1995 - present, chief of the chaplain service, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster
Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Army Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Service Medal with two service stars
1992 Named a prelate of honor with the title of Reverend Monsignor by His Holiness Pope John Paul II.
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
First Lieutenant Nov 20, 1968
Captain Nov 30, 1968
Major Apr 1, 1977
Lieutenant Colonel Mar 1, 1982
Colonel Nov 1, 1986
Brigadier General May 20, 1993
Major General Aug 1, 1995
(Current as of November 1995)