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DEFENSE COMMUNITIES 360

Charlie Thomas, Played Pivotal Role in Saving Kirtland AFB

  • November 10, 2011
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Charlie Thomas, a founding member of the Kirtland Partnership Committee and a 27-year veteran of the Air Force, died last week at the age of 71 after a brief fight with pancreatic cancer.

After the Pentagon recommended Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M., for realignment during the 1995 round of base closures, Thomas and several colleagues formed an ad-hoc task force that fought to save the base. He wrote multiple position papers which were instrumental in the BRAC Commission’s decision to remove Kirtland from the realignment list.

The next year, along with other Albuquerque leaders, he helped establish the Kirtland Partnership Committee, an organization devoted to supporting the base and expanding its missions. Thomas served as chairman of the committee in 2002. He also was a board member and past president of the Southwest Defense Alliance, a group dedicated to preserving defense missions and assets in California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Texas.

From 2003 to 2006, Thomas served on ADC’s board of directors.

Thomas was a graduate of the Air Force Academy. He served in Air staff assignments and was host wing commander at Kirtland from 1985 to 1988, when he retired at the rank of colonel. Afterward, he served on the cabinet of New Mexico Gov. Garrey Carruthers as secretary of the General Services Department. He retired after working for 13 years as a senior manager at Sandia National Laboratories.

Read Thomas’ obituary in the Albuquerque Journal.

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