Marlon Thomas was born on February 28, 1956, in South Carolina. He entered the U.S. Air Force through Officer Training School at Lackland AFB, Texas, on August 18, 1980, and was commissioned a 2d Lt on November 18, 1980. After completing Weapons Director training at Tyndall AFB, Florida, Lt Thomas served as a tactical air controller and then Standardization/Evaluation controller with the 726th Tactical Control Squadron at Homestead AFB, Florida, from January 1981 to March 1984. His next assignment was as a Command and Control Communication Systems Project Manager with Detachment 1 of the 6008th Tactical Air Control Flight at Osan AB, South Korea, from March 1984 to May 1986, followed by service as a Weapons Controller Project Manager with the 4477th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis AFB, Nevada, from May to December 1986. Capt Thomas served as Officer in Charge of the Student Training Flight and as a Flight Commander with the 607th Tactical Control Training Squadron at Luke AFB, Arizona, from December 1986 to September 1989, and then as Wing Programs Director with the 601st Tactical Control Wing at Sembach AB, Germany, from September 1989 to December 1991. During this time he deployed to Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield, and to Turkey for Operation Desert Storm. Capt Thomas next served as Chief of the Operations Plans Division with the 601st Operations Group and then the 601st Operations Flight at Sembach AB from December 1991 to June 1992, followed by E-3 Sentry Airborne Weapons Controller/Air Battle Manager training at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, from June 1992 to February 1993. Major Thomas' final assignment was as an AWACS Mission Crew Commander and AWACS Chief of Requirements with the 962nd Airborne Air Control Squadron at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, from February 1993 until he was killed in the crash of an E-3B Sentry (Call Sign "Yukla 27") shortly after takeoff from Elmendorf AFB on September 22, 1995. Marlon Thomas was buried at the Carolina Memorial Park in North Charleston, South Carolina.
His Meritorious Service Medal Citation reads:
Members of Flight Yukla 27 distinguished themselves in the performance of outstanding service to the United States and Canada while serving as E-3 Airborne Warning and Air Control Systems air crew members assigned to 3rd Wing, 962nd Airborne Air Control Squadron and the 381st Air Intelligence Squadron, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. They consistantly demonstrated outstanding airmanship while providing long range airborne surveillance, detection, identification, and command and control during deployed operations and in the Alaska region. All were dedicated volunteers selflessly serving, and fully committed to the defense of their nations and the Alaska region. Our memory of these airmen will forever be of professionals who stepped to the front and answered the call to duty and made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of peace and freedom. The distinctive accomplishments of each of these individuals reflect credit upon themselves, the United States Air Force, and Canadian Forces.