Chief Master Sergeant Thomas J. Gunnell serves as Command Chief, 492nd Special Operations Wing, Hurlburt Field, Florida. He is the principal advisor to the Commander on all matters of morale, welfare, readiness, professional development, and operational utilization of the enlisted force. The 492nd SOW is the Air Force’s only Irregular Warfare wing employing Non-Standard Aviation worldwide in support of national and theater-level strategic objectives. The wing is also responsible for preparing Air Commandos for worldwide missions in support of joint and coalition special operations through training and education, innovation, and development. His units are tasked with the mission qualification and continuation training in SOF aviation platforms to include AC-130J, MC-130J, C-146, MQ-9, U-28A and small unmanned aerial systems (SUAS). With an annual budget of $120 million, the Wing manages and utilizes state-of-the-art simulators valued at over $400 million, develops and implements cutting-edge curriculum, and develops world-class Air Commandos to meet the operational and training requirements for Air Force Special Operations Command.
Chief Master Sergeant Gunnell grew up Columbus, Ohio and enlisted in the Air Force in March 2004. He is a Tactical Air Control Party Superintendent with more than 300 combat missions as a Special Operations JTAC Instructor and Evaluator. His assignments include bases in Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, New Mexico, Florida, and Washington D.C. Chief Gunnell has 12 deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Freedom Sentinel, and Operation Inherent Resolve.
2008 Airman Leadership School, Pope AFB, N.C.
2009 Associate of Applied Science, Information Systems Technology, Community College of the Air Force, Maxwell AFB, Ala. 2012 Bachelor of Science, Sports and Fitness Management, Troy University, Troy Ala.
2014 Joint Fundamentals Course, Joint Special Operations University, by correspondence 2015 Senior Enlisted Joint Professional Military Education, by correspondence
2015 Noncommissioned Officers Academy Course 15, by correspondence
2015 Master of Arts, Business Management and Leadership, Liberty University, Lynchburg, Va. 2016 Senior Noncommissioned Officers Academy Course 14, by correspondence
2016 Enterprise Management Course, Joint Special Operations University, by correspondence 2016 Professional Managers Certificate, Community College of the Air Force, Maxwell AFB, Ala. 2017 Senior Enlisted Joint Professional Military Education II, by correspondence
2018 United States Marine Corps Senior Noncommissioned Officer Advanced School, Camp Lejeune, N.C. 2018 Air Commando Leadership Development Course, Air Force Special Operations School, Hurlburt Field, Fla.
2021 Graduate Certificate in Legislative Studies, Government Affairs Institute, Georgetown University, Washington D.C. 2021 Certificate in Congressional Space Studies, Coalition for Deep Space Exploration, Washington D.C.
2021 Air Force Legislative Fellowship, Air University, Maxwell AFB, Ala. 2022 Chief Leadership Course, Air University, Gunter Annex, Ala.
2023 Latin and South America Seminar, Alan L. Freed Seminar, Washington D.C.
2023 Summit Course, Joint Special Operations University, MacDill AFB, Fla.
2023 Joint Special Operations Forces Pre-Command Course, Joint Special Operations University, MacDill AFB, Fla.
2023 Enterprise Leadership Seminar, Kegan-Flagler Business School, UNC Chapel Hill, NC
1. May 2004 – January 2005, Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) Candidate, 342nd Training Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla.
2. January 2005 – November 2008, TACP Apprentice, 14th Air Support Operations Squadron, Pope AFB, N.C.
3. November 2008 – November 2013, Special Operations TACP, 17th Special Tactics Squadron, Fort Benning, Ga.
4. November 2013 – March 2015, NCOIC, Fires, 26th Special Tactics Squadron, Cannon AFB, N.M.
5. March 2015 – June 2017, Flight Chief, Precision Strike, 26th Special Tactics Squadron, Cannon AFB, N.M.
6. June 2017 – July 2018, Superintendent, Support, 26th Special Tactics Squadron, Cannon AFB, N.M.
7. July 2018 – August 2020, MAJCOM Air to Ground Integration Manager, Air Force Special Operations Command Headquarters, Hurlburt Field, Fla.
8. August 2020 – December 2020, Legislative Fellow, Department of State, Legislative Affairs, Washington, D.C.
9. January 2021 – December 2021, Defense Legislative Fellow, U.S. House of Representatives, Office of Congressman Chris Stewart, Washington, D.C.
10. January 2022 – July 2023, Special Assistant, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs, Pentagon, Va.
11. July 2023 – Present, Command Chief, 492d Special Operations Wing, Hurlburt Field, Fla.
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Bronze Star with Valor Device & two oak leaf clusters
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster
Joint Service Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster
Air Force Commendation Medal with Valor Device & three oak leaf clusters
Army Commendation Medal
Air Force Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Army Achievement Medal
Combat Action Medal
Presidential Unit Citation
Outstanding Airman of the Year Ribbon
2008 Airman Leadership School Leadership Award
2010 Air Commando Association Battlefield Airman of the Year
2010 United States Air Force SSgt Jacob Frazier TACP/JTAC of the Year
2014 26th Special Tactics Squadron Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) of the Year
2015 720th Special Tactics Group Lance P. Sijan Award Nominee
2015 26th Special Tactics Squadron NCO of the Year
2016 26th Special Tactics Squadron Senior Noncommissioned Officer (SNCO) of the Year
2016 Joint Special Operations University Enterprise Management Course Honor Graduate
2017 720th Special Tactics Group Lance P. Sijan Award Nominee
2017 Air Force Special Operations Command SNCO of the Year
2017 United States Air Force TACP C2 Operator of the Year
2018 United States Marine Corps SNCO Advanced Course Distinguished Graduate
2019 Pacific Air Forces Command Lessons Learned Team of the Year
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
Chief Master Sergeant December 1, 2021
(Current as of November 2023)