Maxwell R. Thurman

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Maxwell R. Thurman
Maxwell R Thurman.jpg
General Maxwell Reid Thurman
Nickname(s) "Mad Max"[1]
Born (1931-02-18)February 18, 1931
High Point, North Carolina
Died Script error: The function "death_date_and_age" does not exist.
Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch Emblem of the United States Department of the Army.svg United States Army
Years of service 1953–1991
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Commands held Training and Doctrine Command
Southern Command
Recruiting Command
Battles/wars Cold War
*1958 Lebanon crisis
*Vietnam War
Invasion of Panama
Awards Legion of Merit
Bronze Star with "V" device
Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Relations Lieutenant General John R. Thurman III (brother)

Maxwell Reid Thurman (February 18, 1931 – December 1, 1995) was a U.S. Army general, Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, and former commander of United States Army Training and Doctrine Command.


Thurman attended North Carolina State University, graduating with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering (ceramics). While in college he was a member of the Professional Engineering Fraternity Theta Tau. He was commissioned a second lieutenant of Ordnance from NCSU's ROTC program in 1953 and branch transferred to Field Artillery. His first assignment was with the 11th Airborne Division, and in 1958 his Honest John Rocket platoon was deployed to Lebanon.

From 1961-63 he served in Vietnam as an Intelligence Officer for I Vietnamese Corps. Following his service in Vietnam, Thurman became one of the few non-Academy graduates ever assigned as a company tactical officer at the United States Military Academy. In 1966 he attended the Command and General Staff College, then returned to Vietnam in 1967, where he assumed command of the 2d Howitzer Battalion, 35th Artillery Regiment in 1968.

After completing the U.S. Army War College in 1970, Thurman held numerous troop and staff assignments before assuming command of U.S. Army Recruiting Command in 1979, where he initiated the highly successful "BE ALL YOU CAN BE" recruiting campaign. From 1981-83 he was Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army, Personnel (DCSPER) and from 1983-87 he was the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army (VCSA).

In 1989 Thurman applied for retirement while serving as Command General, United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). Instead, he was handpicked by President George H. Bush to be Commander-in-Chief, United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM). In this position, he planned and executed Operation Just Cause, the 1989 invasion of Panama.

He was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia while still commander in chief of USSOUTHCOM, shortly after Operation Just Cause. He retired in 1991 after more than thirty-seven years of service, and died in 1995 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, aged 64. A funeral service was held on December 7, 1995 at the Fort Myer, Virginia, chapel, followed by interment at Arlington National Cemetery (Section 30, Grave 416-A-LH).

Thurman's awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star with "V" device.[1] In August 2010 Thurman was posthumously inducted into the Theta Tau Alumni Hall of Fame for outstanding contribution to his profession.

An award is given every year by the United States Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (MRMC) in honor of General Thurman. The award is generally presented at the annual meeting of the American Telemedicine Association.

Thurman's image as a workaholic - captured by the nickname "Mad Max" - was as widespread as his reputation as a master organizer. His posting as chief of U.S. Army Recruiting Command in 1979 is considered instrumental in remaking the Army's tarnished, post-Vietnam image and attracting new generations of highly motivated recruits.

Thurman, a lifelong bachelor, was survived by his brother, the late Army Lieutenant General John R. Thurman III.

Awards and decorations

  • US Army Airborne master parachutist badge.gif
  • Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg
  • United States Army Staff Identification Badge.png
Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Distinguished Service Medal with one bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze Star with "V" Device and Oak Leaf Cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Award numeral 3.png Air Medal (3 awards)
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster
Joint Service Achievement Medal
Meritorious Unit Commendation
Selective Service System Distinguished Service Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Width=44 scarlet ribbon with a central width-4 golden yellow stripe, flanked by pairs of width-1 scarlet, white, Old Glory blue, and white stripes
National Defense Service Medal with two Service stars
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Vietnam Service Medal with five Service stars
Army Service Ribbon
Army Overseas Service Ribbon
Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal 1st class
National Order of Merit (France) (Commander)
Badge of Honour of the Bundeswehr in gold (Germany)
Noribbon.svg Unidentified
Gallantry Cross Unit Citation.png Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation
Civil Action Unit Citation.png Civil Actions Medal Unit Citation (Vietnam)
Vietnam Campaign Medal

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document "[1]".

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Gen. John A. Wickham, Jr.
Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army
1983 – 1987
Succeeded by
Gen. Arthur E. Brown, Jr.
Preceded by
Carl E. Vuono
Commanding General, United States Army Training and Doctrine Command
Succeeded by
John W. Foss
Preceded by
Gen. Frederick Woerner
United States Southern Command
Succeeded by
Gen. George A. Joulwan