Longtime JBLM civilian receives Bryce Lilly Service Award

By Master Sgt. Todd Wivell on March 25, 2016

Each year at the Team McChord Annual Awards Banquet, one special award is given called the Bryce Lilly Service Award. This award is given at the discretion of the wing commander to the military member, civilian employee, local business leader, community supporter or any other person directly involved in enhancing the quality of the military community at McChord Field.

At this year's awards banquet conducted March 11 at the McChord Club on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, that award was given to Mr. Charles Thornton, JBLM Department of Emergency Services joint operations officer for McChord Field.

"Since I've taken command of the 62nd Airlift Wing, I've been incredibly impressed with the team of dedicated airmen and civilians that make JBLM a premier power projection platform. Many individuals have stood out, but none more than Mr. Charles Thornton in being the epitome of The McChord Way ... Excellence, Innovation, Respect," said Col. Leonard Kosinski, 62nd AW commander.  "He has served his country proudly since his combat time in the Vietnam War and has continued to be that humble, servant leader to ensure we are taking care of our airmen, mission and families at Team McChord."

Unaware of his selection for this award, Thornton, known as "Mr. T" to most, listened as the emcee for the Team McChord Annual Awards Banquet read the script detailing his accomplishments.

"This year's Bryce Lilly Award recipient is a dedicated JBLM and local community member who exemplifies the traits of Bryce Lilly. This individual is a longstanding member of both communities who has supported JBLM events time and time again," said the emcee. "This member is an integral part of the success garnered by all of those participating in base distinguished visits, higher headquarters venues, on and off-base community events and ceremonies recognizing those fallen servicemembers who return through JBLM. This member is a vital part of the team and carries the Air Force core values in all they do."

It was then announced that Mr. Charles Thornton was this year's Bryce Lilly Service Award winner. Totally caught off guard, Thornton proceeded to receive his award in front of a standing ovation of more than 200 Team McChord members.

"I see him behind the scenes at every significant event we've had at JBLM and his standard of excellence and professionalism is unwavering," said Kosinski.  "It is not just me that believes it was important to recognize ‘Mr. T' as the Bryce Lilly Award recipient. I could see the expressions of many in the audience during the announcement at the Team McChord Awards Ceremony, and the response from all that know ‘Mr. T' and his service was overwhelming acknowledgement of him being the absolute right choice for this award."

Charles Thornton arrived to JBLM in December of 1979 from Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, and was assigned as the first superintendent for the 446th AW Security Police Squadron. He transitioned over to the 62nd Security Forces Squadron in 1985 and is currently working for DES under the joint basing construct.

In his time here, Thornton has become a pillar in the communities both on and off base.

He is involved in the Pierce County Police Chief's Association, the Washington State Behind the Badge Committee, the King County Stand With Those Who Serves Committee, the Pierce County Law Enforcement Memorial Committee, and the Thurston County Law Enforcement Working Committee.

He has been involved in base events such as the Air Mobility Command Rodeo, the JBLM Air Show and Open House, high-level distinguished visitor visits to include the President of Columbia and the Secretary of Defense, the return of Matthew Todd Miller and Kenneth Bae from North Korea, and has ensured the return of fallen servicemembers is treated with the utmost honor and respect.