An upper Iowa University alumnus and United States Air Force veteran served as keynote speaker during the annual Veterans Day program at Upper Iowa University’s Fayette Campus Thursday. Staff sergeant Roger Thomas ’96 enlisted in the Air Force in1969 – only two weeks after graduating from Valley High School, near Elgin, Iowa. After completing basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, he was assigned to Chunute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois, to receive technical training on Boeing B-52 Stratofortess bombers and other large jet aircraft.
After competing training at Chanute in 1970, Thomas was assigned to 62 Military Airlift Wing at McChord Air Force Base in Tacoma, Washington. There, he received more extensive training to become crew chief on the C141 Starlifter jet aircraft. Thomas was later assigned as a maintenance inspection dock supervisor for all the C141 aircraft requiring major maintenance.
Thomas served over six years in the Air Force during the Vietnam Conflict. After his service, he and his family decided to return to Iowa where he began his own business. In 1980, the family moved to Elkader where he purchased the family farm.
In 1996, Thomas was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives. In 2014 after serving 16 years as State Representative, he decided not to seek reelection. He recently retired as the Elkader Main Street/Economic Development executive director. An advocate for public service, Thomas has served as a volunteer fireman, paramedic, Northeast Iowa Community College trustee, along with serving on numerous boards and committees. He continues to serve in leadership roles in his community, region and state.
Thomas graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public administration. He currently lives on the family farm near Elkader with his wife, Rosemary.