Capt. Paul Thomas, a native of Pittsfield, was advanced in rank to rear admiral on Jan. 22. He is the chief of staff of the Coast Guard’s Fifth District located in Portsmouth, Va.

Thomas is the son of June A. Thomas and he graduated from Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington in 1981.

Thomas assumed the duties as chief of staff, Coast Guard Fifth District, in July 2013, where he serves under the district commander overseeing all Coast Guard missions in the Mid-Atlantic Region of the United States, including the National Capital Region and 1.5 million square miles of the Atlantic Ocean.

In his previous tour, he served as the director for Inspections and Compliance at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C. He has also served as the executive assistant to the assistant commandant for Marine Safety, Security and Stewardship at Coast Guard Headquarters.

A specialist in Marine Safety, Security and Environmental Protection, he has served at the Marine Safety Center in Washington, D.C.; Marine Safety Office, San Francisco Bay, Calif.; Marine Safety Detachment, Port Canaveral, Fla.; and Marine Safety Office Jacksonville, Fla.

He also served as commanding officer of Marine Safety Unit Galveston, Texas, and as commander Coast Guard Sector, Jacksonville, Fla.

His other tours include military assistant to the director of Net Assessment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon, commanding office in USCGC Cape Romain and operations officer in USCGC Blackhaw.


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A licensed professional engineer, Thomas is a graduate of the US Coast Guard Academy and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In 2005, he completed a National Security Fellowship at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and in 2010 he served as a senior fellow to the chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group.

His military awards include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Coast Guard Commendation Medal, Transportation 9/11 Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal and the Coast Guard Achievement Medal.