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Colonel Thomas S. Cauthen

Director of Staff, Air

Colonel Thomas S. Cauthen is currently the Director of Staff-Air for the Tennessee Joint Force Headquarters, Nashville, TN.  A native of East Tennessee, Colonel Cauthen joined the Tennessee Air National Guard in July 1984. He accepted a commission in December 1984 through the Air National Guard Academy of Military Science and earned his wings from Reese Air Force Base, Texas in February 1986. After completing KC-135 Combat Crew Training at Castle Air Force Base, California, Colonel Cauthen returned to McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in September 1986. In 1990 he upgraded to Aircraft Commander and became an Instructor Pilot in 1993. Colonel Cauthen's next assignment came in November 1998 as the Operations Support Flight Commander and he became the 151st Air Refueling Squadron Commander in June 2001. In October 2003, Colonel Cauthen moved to Maintenance as the Maintenance Squadron Commander. He became the Maintenance Group Commander in January 2004 and served in that capacity until August 2006 when he assumed the position of Vice Commander. In June 2011, Col Cauthen was selected as Wing Commander.

Colonel Cauthen has flown combat support aerial refueling missions for Desert Shield, Southern Watch, Joint Forge, Allied Force, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Noble Eagle, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Additionally, Colonel Cauthen has deployed to Incirlik, Turkey as the 385th AEF Operations Officer supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, to Istres, France as the Operations Officer for Joint Forge, and to Mildenhall, England as the 171st AEW Operations Group Commander supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. From August - Nov 2000, Colonel Cauthen was an initial cadre Instructor Pilot for the 134th ARW conversion to Pacer Crag (Block 30).


1984 Bachelor degree in Pre-Engineering from Carson Newman College, Jefferson City, Tenn.

1988 Bachelor degree in Civil Engineering from University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn.

1995 Squadron Officer School (by correspondence)

1999 Air Command and Staff College (by correspondence)

2003 Air War College (by correspondence)


  • Meritorious Service Medal with 3 bronze oak leaf clusters
  • Aerial Achievement Medal
  • Air Force Commendation Medal
  • Air Force Achievement Medal
  • Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with one silver and two bronze oak leaf clusters
  • Combat Readiness Medal with two silver oak leaf clusters
  • National Defense Service Medal with bronze star
  • Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
  • Southwest Asia Service Medal with two bronze stars
  • Kosovo Campaign Medal
  • Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
  • Armed Forces Service Medal
  • Air Force Overseas Short Tour Ribbon
  • Air Force Longevity Service Award with bronze oak leaf clusters
  • Armed Forces Reserve Medal with silver hour glass
  • Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon
  • Air Force Training Ribbon
  • Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)
  • Tennessee National Guard War Service Ribbon with two bronze oak leaf clusters
  • Tennessee National Guard Service Ribbon with two bronze oak leaf clusters
  • Tennessee National Guard Volunteer Ribbon
  • Tennessee National Guard Volunteer Recruiting and Retention Unit Citation


  1. March 1985 - February 1986, student, Undergraduate Pilot Training, Reese AFB, Tex.
  2. February 1986 - June 1986, student, KC-135A Copilot Combat Crew Training, Castle AFB, Calif.
  3. September 1986 - June 1990, KC-135E Copilot, McGhee Tyson ANGB, Tenn.
  4. June 1990 - March 1993, KC-135E Aircraft Commander, McGhee Tyson ANGB, Tenn.
  5. March 1993 - Present, KC-135 Instructor Pilot, McGhee Tyson ANGB, Tenn.
  6. November 1998 - June 2001, Operations Support Flight Commander, McGhee Tyson ANGB, Tenn.
  7. June 2001 - October 2003, 151st Air Refueling Squadron Commander, McGhee Tyson ANGB, Tenn.
  8. October 2003 - January 2004, Maintenance Squadron Commander, McGhee Tyson ANGB, Tenn.
  9. January 2004 - August 2006, Maintenance Group Commander, McGhee Tyson ANGB, Tenn.
  10. August 2006 – June 2011, Vice Commander, McGhee Tyson ANGB, Tenn.
  11.  June 2011 – Present, Wing Commander


Second Lieutenant December 6, 1984

First Lieutenant December 15, 1986

Captain January 7, 1989

Major June 21, 1995

Lieutenant Colonel June 24,1999

Colonel July 22, 2004


Rating: Command Pilot

Flight Hours: Over 5400

Aircraft Flown: T-37, T-38, KC-135A, KC-135E and KC-135R



(Current as of January 2012)