John Thurman grew up in Midland, Texas, in a large extended family. His father worked in the oil industry, and his mother worked at the post office and as a librarian. Although very active in basketball, soccer, and football, he also was passionate about reading and playing the violin (later transitioning to the viola). He was worried that a knee injury during his junior year would limit college recruitment opportunities, but West Point expressed interest. At the Military Academy, he found the schedule demanding, but hard work and preparation led him to success as a Cadet. He commanded a company at Buckner, and was on Battalion Staff during the academic year. On the football field, he led the scout team, learning that everyone has an important part to play in the success of the team as a whole. He commissioned into the Field Artillery and posted to Ft. Riley, Kansas. While assigned to 3rd Brigade of the 1st Armored Division, he deployed to Kuwait as part of Task Force 1-41 Infantry, and in April 2003 he deployed to Iraq with 3rd Brigade of the 1st Armored Division. Returning home in late 2003, he was assigned to the Minority Admissions Office at West Point, where he worked until 2005. In 2004, he suffered a serious knee injury on the “fields of friendly strife,” and during his recovery, he worked at Keller Hospital, which set him on the path to leaving the Army in 2007 (Medical Board) to become a doctor. He is currently a family practice doctor, and he continues to apply many of the lessons he learned in the Army and at West Point.
In this interview, he recalls his childhood, including growing up with over 50 cousins nearby, and his West Point and Army experiences. He reflects on many of the lessons he learned at the Military Academy, and some of the people who influenced his life. He discusses the importance of good friends and mentors like Dan Christman (USMA 65), Gary Williams (USMA 00), and Gaylord Greene (USMA 93). Finally, he describes his transition into the medical field, and the importance of West Point in shaping who he is today.