Lieutenant Colonel Thomas R. O’Connell enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve in 1980. He was a drilling Reservist at Glenview Naval Air Station while attending Northeastern Illinois University. Upon completion of Officers Candidate School and graduation from college in 1983, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant. He was designated a Naval Aviator in 1985. He was designated a CH-53A/D Sea Stallion pilot in 1986 and CH53E Super Stallion pilot in 2000. He did tours of duty in Virginia, Florida, Texas, California, North Carolina, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Illinois, and Japan. He also deployed to the Mediterranean Sea, Korea, and Cambodia. His personal awards include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. In 2003 he retired from active duty and became the Senior Marine Instructor for Noble Street Charter High School. In 2006 he became the Senior Marine Instructor for all Noble Network MCJROTC programs.