PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, CO – Air Force Brig. Gen. Kathy E. Thomas, the first female general officer in the United States Space Command, is the mobilization assistant to the Commander-in-Chief, North American Aerospace Defense Command and Commander, United States Space Command, received this year’s Women In Aerospace Leadership Award.

Thomas was recognized for her pivotal role in the nation’s 9/11 response, leading the mobilization of more than 6,000 Reserve component officers and enlisted personnel across all services for NORAD’s and USSPACECOM’s mission support to Operations Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom. The men and women in the Reserve Component mobilized for the Global War on Terrorism, support NORAD’s mission and the theater commander in generating rapid and effective space effects to the battle in Afghanistan. Further, their skills enhance our nation’s computer network defense.

A Vietnam veteran, Thomas participated in the rescue of the merchant ship SS Mayaguez and the evacuations of Phnom Penh and Saigon. She has expanded professional opportunities for women throughout her military and civilian careers through extensive mentoring and community service.  She wrote a plan to disband the segregated Woman in the Air Force squadrons and integrate women into the USAF. Thomas has her 40-year Girl Scout pin, and has been a Girl Scout leader and served on the Girl Scouts Board of Directors for the advancement of scouting.  She is a staunch advocate for the advancement of women in aerospace operations for the U.S. Department of Defense.

For the past 16 years, the annual Women in Aerospace, WIA, awards have recognized outstanding achievements by women in various aspects of the aerospace field. The event this year was held in the House Science Committee hearing room, in Washington, D.C.  Rep. Joe Hefley, (R-CO), presented Thomas’ award.

WIA is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding women’s opportunities for leadership and increasing their visibility in the aerospace community. WIA sponsors frequent interactions with senior representatives of the Administration, Members of Congress, industry leaders, scientists, educators, and international aerospace experts. WIA is also influential in science and technology policy. 

Thomas is married to Col Gene Smith (USMC, Ret.).  She and Gene keep busy on their ranch in Teller County, Colo.