FORT HOOD — For many years, Gen. James D. Thurman said he kept a rubber chicken on a wooden plaque in his office.
Soldiers, senators and foreign ambassadors would often ask him why.
“The lesson I learned from my grandfather and parents is simple: There ain’t no free chicken in the world,” Thurman said in his signature Oklahoma drawl, eliciting laughter from the crowd. “You’ve got to work for stuff. Since my boyhood in Marietta, Okla., I been doing that.”
Now, after more than 38 years in the military, Thurman will be taking his hard-work ethic into civilian life, right here in Central Texas. He retired during a cold afternoon ceremony at the flagpole outside III Corps Headquarters on Friday.
Thurman’s 10 command positions include leading the 4th Infantry Division, which was previously headquartered at Fort Hood. Most recently, he commanded Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno presided over the ceremony.
The chief described Thurman as committed, courageous, competent and a strategic thinker. When Odierno was deployed to Iraq, Thurman was the Army’s senior operations officer. Odierno said whatever he needed downrange to succeed, Thurman would provide.
“He’s there for you. He’s there to accomplish what’s best for our soldiers, what’s best for our country. He will do whatever he can to ensure that that happens,” Odierno said.
Read more about Thurman’s career in the next Fort Hood Herald.