I was a year behind Rick Thurman at University of Tennessee, Knoxville and the Army ROTC program. I received a 3 year Army ROTC Scholarship and so joined the Tennessee ROTC Ranger Battalion in September 1974. Rick was my platoon leader (3rd PLT) in the Ranger Battalion; the first leader in my Army career. As a senior (MSIV) Rick served as the ROTC Brigade S-3, who was the cadet in charge and responsible for the training of all ROTC cadets.

Rick was a PT stud. He was a fast runner and probably was one of the cadets with the highest physical fitness test scores within the ROTC Brigade.

I recall Rick being a charismatic leader. He had a ready smile when he was not fully in his role as a ROTC cadet leader. His death from a training accident at Ft. Benning was a devastating shock to the UTK ROTC program. I was able to attend his funeral during the spring quarter 1977.

The Army lost a very fine officer due to this tragedy.

Mark N. McDonald, D.M.D.
COL (Ret), US Army

Photo from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, yearbook 1977.

  • Rank: Second Lieutenant
  • Date of birth:
  • 14 January 1954
  • Date of death: 3 May 1977
  • County: Rhea
  • Hometown: Grandview
  • Service Branch: Army
  • Conflict: Other Military Operations
  • Burial/Memorial Location: Spring City Memory Gardens, Spring City, Rhea County, TN
  • Location In Memorial: Pillar XXV, Panel
  • Sponsored by: Gloria Thurman

Image Gallery

Click a thumbnail below to view at full size.

Submit more information on this veteran →