- Maxwell R. Thurman
Maxwell R. Thurman
General Maxwell Reid Thurman
Nickname "Mad Max"
Born February 18, 1931
High Point, North Carolina
Died December 1, 1995(aged 64)
Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Buried at Arlington National Cemetery Allegiance United States of America Service/branch United States Army Years of service 1953-1991 Rank General Commands held Training and Doctrine Command
Battles/wars Cold War
*1958 Lebanon crisis
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.
He 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 but branch transferred to Field Artillery. His first assignment was with the 11th Airborne Division and in 1958 deployed his Honest John Rocket platoon to Lebanon. From 1961-63, he served in Vietnam as an Intelligence Officer for I Vietnamese Corps. Following his service in Vietnam, Thurman was selected one of the first non-Academy graduates 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, eventually, 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, TRADOC. Instead, he was handpicked by President George H. Bush to be Commander-in-Chief, United States Southern Command. 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 U.S. Southern Command shortly after Operation Just Cause. Thurman retired in 1991 after more than thirty-seven years of service, and died in 1995.
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. 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 American Telemedicine Association annual meeting.
Thurman's image as a workaholic - captured by the nickname "Mad Max" - was as widespread as his reputation as a master organizer. His credits include reversing the downward slide of Army recruiting and commanding the 1989 invasion of Panama. Thurman was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia while still commander in chief of US Southern Command shortly after Operation Just Cause, which ousted strongman Manuel Noriega. He conducted SOUTHCOM business from his hospital bed at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore after he was admitted for treatment in July 1990.
One of the men most responsible for the Army's positive image and success through the 1980s succumbed to lengthy bout with cancer. Retired General Maxwell Reid Thurman died December 1, 1995 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. He was 64. The funeral service was held on December 7, 1995 at the Fort Myer, Virginia, chapel, followed by interment at Arlington National Cemetery. His burial site is located in Section 30, Grave 416-A-LH at Arlington National Cemetery.
Thurman is survived by his brother, retired Army Lieutenant General John R. Thurman III of Alexandria, Virginia.
He retired from active duty in February 1991. But in between returns to the hospital for treatment, he kept a rigorous schedule of travel to conferences and speaking engagements, taking every opportunity to talk with or about soldiers and the Army. That retirement was his second. He had one foot out the door in September 1989, when he was set to retire as commanding general of US Army Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Virginia. Instead, he was called to the Pentagon and given charge over the US multi-service command in Panama. His elaborate invasion plan involved conventional and special operations forces from units in the United States as well as Panama which overwhelmed Noreiga's forces.
Before serving as vice chief of staff and top personnel officer, Thurman was commanding general of US Army Recruiting Command. When he took command in 1979, enlisting was generally viewed as an option for slackers. Behind the slogan, "Be all you can be," Thurman was able to blot out that perception and begin a trend of attracting high-quality recruits. A graduate of North Carolina State University and commissioned in Field Artillery, Thurman served two tours in Vietnam, including a battalion command. His decorations and awards over his 37-year career include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star for valor. 
General Maxwell R. Thurman Award
- Maxwell R. Thurman at Find a Grave
- NCSU Military Bio
- STATE GRADS DEVELOP ARMY MANPOWER - April 1985 
- NCSU Army ROTC Bio
- NCSU Army ROTC Alumni - 1953
Military offices Preceded by
Gen. John A. Wickham, Jr.
Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army
1983 – 1987
Gen. Arthur E. Brown, Jr.
Carl E. Vuono
Commanding General, United States Army Training and Doctrine Command
John W. Foss
Gen. Frederick Woerner
United States Southern Command
Gen. George A. JoulwanLeaders of the United States Army
Senior Officer /
Chiefs of StaffYoung · Chaffee · Bates · Bell · Wood · Wotherspoon · Scott · Bliss · March · Pershing · Hines · Summerall · MacArthur · Craig · Marshall · Eisenhower · Bradley · Collins · Ridgway · Taylor · Lemnitzer · Decker · Wheeler · Johnson · Westmoreland · Palmer · Abrams · Weyand · Rogers · Meyer · Wickham · Vuono · Sullivan · Reimer · Shinseki · Schoomaker · Casey · Dempsey · Odierno Vice Chiefs of Staff
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