Tim Thomas was born on October 8, 1961, in Coos Bay, Oregon. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on November 30, 1984, and completed basic training at Lackland AFB, Texas, in January 1985. After attending Telephone Switching Equipment Repairman school, he served as a telephone switching equipment repairman in the Dial Central Office of the 1905th Communications Squadron at McChord AFB, Washington, from July 1985 to December 1986. SSgt Thomas' next assignment was as a telephone switching equipment repairman with the 1982d Communications Squadron at Kunsan AB, South Korea, from January 1987 to January 1988, followed by service as an Electronics Standard Installation Practices Training Instructor and Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of Team Chief Development with the 1836th Engineering Installation Group at Lindsey Air Station, Germany, from February 1988 to February 1990. SSgt Thomas then attended AWACS Computer Display Maintenance Technician training and E-3 Sentry Airborne Computer Display Maintenance training before serving as an E-3 Computer Display Maintenance Technician with the 963d Airborne Warning and Control Squadron at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, from July 1991 to March 1993. His final assignment was as an E-3 Instructor Computer Display Maintenance Technician with the 962nd Airborne Air Control Squadron at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, from March 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. Tim Thomas was buried at the Tygh Valley Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) Cemetery in Tygh Valley, Oregon.
His Aerial Achievement Medal Citation reads:
Staff Sergeant Timothy B. Thomas distinguished himself by meritorious achievement while participating in sustained aerial flight as an E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System Computer Display Maintenance Technician, 963d Airborne Warning and Control Squadron, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, from 5 August 1991 to 9 September 1992. During this period, Sergeant Thomas flew missions on the unarmed E-3 near potentially hostile airspace in direct support of operations in Southwest Asia. His airmanship, courage, and dedication under hazardous conditions contributed greatly to the air campaigns and demonstrated proficiency and steadfast devotion to duty. The professional ability and outstanding aerial accomplishments of Sergeant Thomas reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.