Brig. Gen. William J. Thornton is the Director, Air, Space and Information Operations, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He is responsible for shaping the workforce and infrastructure for operations to test, field and sustain war-winning expeditionary capabilities. He is also responsible for the command's flight and test policy, and resource allocation for flight management, airfield services, weather services, and command and control operations and plans. He serves as the headquarters test and evaluation mission area focal point for three Air Force test organizations: Air Force Test Center, Edwards AFB, Calif; Arnold Engineering Development Center, Arnold AFB, Tenn; and Air Armament Center's 96th Test Wing, Eglin AFB, Fla.
General Thornton graduated magna cum laude from Northeastern University in 1984 and was commissioned in January 1985. He has served as a T-38 instructor pilot and F-16 pilot, including over 130 combat hours enforcing the no-fly zone in northern Iraq. As a graduate of the USAF Test Pilot School, he flew as an experimental test pilot in the F-15 and F-16. General Thornton deployed to Southwest Asia and led the Mobile Targets Division, developing and executing daily strike plans for the Joint Force Air Component Commander. In July 2002, he was appointed by the President as a White House Fellow and served as the executive secretary to the U.S. Trade Representative. He later served as the senior military assistant to the Principal Deputy for Policy, and director of staff for the Quadrennial Defense Review Integration Team.
General Thornton previously commanded two flight test squadrons, an operations group and, prior to his current assignment, the 412th Test Wing, Edwards AFB, Calif. He was responsible for planning, conducting, analyzing, and reporting on all flight and ground testing of aircraft, weapons systems, software and components. He is a command pilot with 3,700 hours in more than 50 different aircraft.
1984 Bachelor of Science degree in computer engineering, magna cum laude, Northeastern University, Boston, Mass.
1989 Distinguished graduate, Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
1994 USAF Test Pilot School
1996 Master of Science degree in aviation systems, University of Tennessee
1997 Marine Corps Command and Staff College, Quantico, Va.
2002 Air War College, by correspondence
2004 Master of Science degree in national resource strategy, Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.
2009 National Security Studies Program, George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
1. January 1985 - April 1986, student, undergraduate pilot training, Vance AFB, Okla.
2. April 1986 - September 1986, student, pilot instructor training, Randolph AFB, Texas
3. October 1986 - February 1990, T-38 instructor pilot, Vance AFB, Okla.
4. March1990 - February 1991, student, lead-in fighter training and F-16 Replacement Training Unit, MacDill AFB, Fla.
5. March 1991 - June 1993, F-16 pilot, Ramstein Air Base, Germany
6. June 1993 - June 1994, student, USAF Test Pilot School, Edwards AFB, Calif.
7. June 1994 - June 1997, F-15 test pilot and assistant operations officer, Eglin AFB, Fla.
8. August 1997 - June 1998, student, Marine Corps Command and Staff College, Quantico, Va.
9. June 1998 - June 2000, Joint Strike Fighter Program Element Monitor and Deputy Chief, Power Projection Division, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
10. June 2000 - April 2001, Commander, 445th Flight Test Squadron, Edwards AFB, Calif.
11. April 2001 - July 2002, Commander, 416th Flight Test Squadron, Edwards AFB, Calif.
12. July 2002 - August 2003, White House Fellow, Washington, D.C.
13. August 2003 - June 2004, student, Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.
14. June 2004 - July 2006, senior military assistant to the Principal Deputy for Policy; and director of staff, Office of the Secretary of Defense Quadrennial Defense Review Team, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
15. July 2006 - May 2008, Commander, 46th Operations Group, Eglin AFB, Fla.
16. May 2008- July 2010, Commander, 412th Test Wing, Edwards AFB, Calif.
17. July 2010 - present, Director, Air, Space and Information Operations, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
SUMMARY OF JOINT ASSIGNMENTS
1. January 2000 - March 2000, Mobile Targets Cell Chief (J3), Operation Southern Watch, as a lieutenant colonel
2. June 2004 - June 2006, senior military assistant to the Principal Deputy for Policy; and director of staff, Office of the Secretary of Defense Quadrennial Defense Review Team, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., as a colonel
Rating: Command pilot
Flight hours: More than 3,700 hours
Aircraft flown: F-15, F-16, T-38 more than 45 other aircraft
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Aerial Achievement Medal with silver and bronze oak leaf clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster
Joint Service Achievement Medal
Combat Readiness Medal
Southwest Asia Service Medal
Humanitarian Service Medal
Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Government of Kuwait)
1986 Distinguished graduate (Top Graduate), T-38 pilot instructor training
1989 Distinguished graduate, Squadron Officer School
1989 Air Training Command and Air Force Association Instructor Pilot of the Year
1991 Distinguished graduate (Top Graduate), F-16 RTU
1994 Distinguished graduate, USAF Test Pilot School
1998 Distinguished graduate and Sister Service Award, Marine Corps Command and Staff College
2004 Distinguished graduate, Industrial College of the Armed Forces
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
Second Lieutenant Jan. 25, 1985
First Lieutenant Jan. 25, 1987
Captain Jan. 25, 1989
Major Dec. 1, 1995
Lieutenant Colonel July 1, 1999
Colonel Aug. 1, 2003
Brigadier General May 7, 2010
(Current as of December 2014)