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Vice Adm. Karl Thomas is a native of Northern Virginia. He received his commission through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1986 with a degree in Management Systems. He earned a Master of Science in Information Technology from Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.
A carrier aviator in the E-2C Hawkeye, he served at sea as a division officer in Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 114; as ship’s navigator aboard USS New Orleans (LPH 11) and USS Essex (LHD 2); as a department head in VAW117; and as executive officer and commanding officer of VAW117 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. After graduating nuclear power school, Thomas served as executive officer for both USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) and USS George Washington (CVN 73), delivering the first permanently forward-deployed nuclear aircraft carrier to Japan. He commanded the U.S. 6th Fleet Command Ship, USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20); USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) during refueling complex overhaul (RCOH); and USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
On shore, he served as a fleet replacement instructor in VAW110; as flag aide for both commander, Fighter Airborne Early Warning Wing Pacific and the director of Naval Reactors; in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (OUSD AT&L) (Unmanned Warfare) coordinating the Unmanned Air Systems Task Force; and as executive assistant to the director, Air Warfare (N98).
As a flag officer, his tours include the director, 21st Century Sailor Office (N17); Task Force 70/Commander, Carrier Strike Group 5, deploying on USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) out of Yokosuka, Japan; and assistant deputy chief of naval operations for Operations, Plans, and Strategy, N3/5B.
Thomas began serving as Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet in July 2021.
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