Commander Steve “Tanker” Thomas, the youngest of four children, was raised in Pleasant Hill, Ohio, where he graduated from Newton High School in 1987. He graduated from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautics. He enlisted in the Navy in March 1995 at Recruit Training Command, Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois. His first assignment was at NAS Brunswick, ME as a non-designated Airman with The PROUD PEGASUS of VP-11.
CDR Thomas became Aviation Electronics Technician Third Class and applied for selection to Officer Candidate School shortly thereafter. He deployed with VP-11 to Sigonella, Italy in January 1996 supporting operations in Bosnia after which he reported to NAS Pensacola, Florida, for Officer Candidate School. He received a commission as an Ensign in the Navy in September 1996 and received his wings of gold as a Naval Flight Officer in March 1998 and reported to VAQ-129 for fleet replacement training in the EA-6B.
After completing VAQ-129, CDR Thomas was assigned to the VAQ-140 PATRIOTS where he served as Coffee Mess Officer, Navigation Officer, Personnel Officer and Assistant Operations Officer during two deployments with CVW-7 onboard USS DWIGHT D EISENHOWER (CVN-69) and USS JOHN F KENNEDY (CV-67) supporting Operations SOUTHERN WATCH and ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF). CDR Thomas returned to the VAQ-129 VIKINGS as a Flight Instructor where he served in Operations and NATOPS departments before serving with COMUSNAVCENT Information Operations Division (N39) in Bahrain from May 2005 to June 2006.
Returning to the United States, CDR Thomas completed his JPME Phase I and earned a Masters in Military Studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College. He returned to Whidbey Island with his family in July 2007 for refresher training in the EA-6B before assignment to the VAQ-133 WIZARDS for his department head tour where he served as the Administrative Officer, Electronic Warfare Officer and Maintenance Officer. VAQ-133 made three six-month deployments in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM during his tenure, earning the Battle E and the Secretary of Defense Maintenance Award.
In November 2009, CDR Thomas reported to the Joint Staff in Washington, DC, where he served in the battle watch at the National Military Command Center as an action officer in the Special Actions and Reconnaissance Operations Divisions and served as the executive assistant in the Deputy Directorate for Global Operations (J-39) within the Joint Staff Operations Directorate (J-3). He reported to the Electronic Attack Weapons School as Executive Officer in November 2013.