For decades, retired Major General Randal E. Thomas successfully blended his military and civilian lives. He served with the United States Army Special Forces from 1966-1969, and was awarded a Bronze Star for valor and a Purple Heart for his combat efforts in Vietnam.
He re-entered military life in 1983 when he joined the Illinois Army National Guard. He received a series of promotions, and commanded infantry units, regiments and brigades across mid-Illinois. From 2003-2007, he served as the adjutant general for the Illinois National Guard--the highest National Guard post in the state. General Thomas was responsible for more than 13,500 personnel in both the Illinois Army and Air National Guard units, and oversaw the largest mobilization of these troops since World War II to support military efforts in the Middle East.
He also had a 30-year career at Hillsboro (IL) High School, where he taught English for seven years, followed by 23 years as the school’s librarian and media director. Besides his SIUE degrees, Thomas has a Master of Strategic Studies degree from the U.S. Army War College, and is currently a member of Illinois’ Executive Ethics Commission. Randy is also a Lifetime member of the SIUE Alumni Association and a member of the 2011 SIUE Alumni Hall of Fame.