Longtime AUSA Vice President Dies

Longtime AUSA Vice President Dies

Lt. Gen. Thomas Rhame, USA Ret.
Photo by: AUSA

Retired Lt. Gen. Thomas Rhame, a longtime vice president of Finance and Administration at the Association of the U.S. Army, died June 27. He was 82.

Rhame, who retired from the Army in 1997, served as AUSA’s vice president from 1998 until 2014.

Born in Winnfield, Louisiana, Rhame grew up in an Air Force family, but his father, like many veterans of the time, rarely spoke about his exploits in World War II. When Rhame attended Louisiana State University, he enrolled in ROTC, selecting the Army rather than the Air Force as his branch of service.

Rhame graduated in 1963 and was commissioned as an infantry second lieutenant. An accounting major, he planned to serve a few years in the Army before entering the world of finance, partly because he married his high school sweetheart, Linda, while in college.

“Neither of us saw the Army as a long-term commitment,” Rhame said in a Library of Congress recording done as part of the Veterans History Project.

He deployed twice to Vietnam, as a company commander with the 1st Cavalry Division in 1967 and as a district senior adviser with the U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, in 1971.

During Operation Desert Storm, Rhame commanded the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas. Under his leadership, the “Big Red One” successfully conducted the initial attack to penetrate Iraqi defensive positions, facilitated the rapid passage of lines for the 1st British Armored Division and launched a night attack against elements of the Iraqi Republican Guard, according to an account published by Grantham University, where Rhame served as chairman of the board of governors. 

Rhame recalled that he had expected a tough battle, but “it lasted about an hour. … The breach was very successful.”

“Quite frankly, I knew we were going to do well. I didn’t know we were going to do well that fast,” he said in the Library of Congress recording.

Additionally, units under Rhame’s command conducted a rapid exploitation and attack into Kuwait to cut off Iraqi units attempting to escape from there.

During a visit to Fort Riley in 2021, Rhame emphasized the significance of the 1st Infantry Division in the Gulf War. “Everyone in this division, everyone on this post, everyone in this community knew the vital importance of what we were doing," he said, according to the Army.

Rhame’s final assignment in uniform was director of the Defense Security Assistance Agency in Washington, D.C. His awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Distinguished Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Silver Star with oak leaf cluster, the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star with “V” device and two oak leaf clusters.