REDSTONE ARSENAL, Alabama -- Josephine and Jared Thompson began 2019 celebrating a significant milestone in their military careers as the married couple advanced to the ranks of colonel and chief warrant officer 5, respectively, during a joint promotion ceremony Jan. 4 in Bob Jones Auditorium.
Josephine, who goes by Jo, serves as the Medical Evacuation product director for the Program Executive Office for Aviation's Utility Helicopters Project Office. With her promotion, she is now considered the active Army's second most senior MEDEVAC acquisition officer.
Jared has worked with the Aviation Flight Test Directorate since 2016 as an experimental test pilot and is now the senior warrant officer at Redstone Test Center. Together, they have a combined 44 years of service to our nation and over 6,500 combined flight hours throughout the world and while in combat.
"Flying has always been a passion for me," Jared said. "I was flown around in helicopters as a wildland firefighter the summer after high school and became fascinated with them. I even took out a loan to get my private pilot's license in an airplane when I was 21.
"When I graduated college, I wanted to make a living doing what I love, and decided that the Army provided the best options to accomplish that."
Jo flew her first real-world MEDEVAC mission over 20 years ago "and absolutely found my passion and calling 'DUSTOFF!'(Dedicated Unhesitating Service To Our Fighting Forces)."
"I've been able to live that passion while serving our country," she said. "When you truly enjoy what you do, you really don't go to work a day in your life."
Jo attended the University of Mississippi on a track scholarship, later combined with a two-year ROTC scholarship, and was commissioned in the Medical Service Corps as a distinguished military graduate. Her career began as an ambulance platoon leader and combat health services officer with the 25th Infantry Division out of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. She is a senior Army aviator rated in the TH-67, UH-1, C-12, UH-60A/L and HH-60L aircraft.
Jared, a graduate of Colorado State University, entered service as an aviation operations specialist for the 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment with the 1st Cavalry Division of Fort Hood, Texas. He is a master Army aviator rated in the OH-58A/C, UH-72A, C-12, UH-60A/L/M/V and HH-60L/M. In his role as an experimental test pilot, Jared has performed duties as a test director and a project pilot on numerous projects supporting PEO Aviation's effort to improve and modernize Army aircraft and their systems.
With their promotions, the Thompsons also gain unique distinctions as Army active duty officers: chief warrant officer 5 is the highest warrant officer rank in the Army. Jared is one of only five chief warrant officer 5 experimental test pilots in the entire Army while Jo is one of only two female MEDEVAC colonels, 67Js, actively serving in the Army.
Brig. Gen. Thomas Todd, program executive officer for aviation, conducted the promotion ceremony for the couple.
"To watch these two in action is pretty amazing," Todd said. "It's a real honor to see both of you achieve this goal, it's an honor to promote you and it's an honor to serve alongside you and continue to see Army aviation be benefited by your expertise."
Todd finished by remarking "we thank you for what you've done in the past, but look forward to what you're going to do in the future."
Lt. Col. Cornelius Allen, the commander of AFTD, added "this promotion is very well deserved and a tremendous accomplishment. You have both displayed nothing but selfless service, dedication and commitment to the Army."
One of the highlights for the Thompsons included their daughters singing at the ceremony.
"We are so proud of Jocilen and Jorja for singing the national anthem," Jo said. "They were amazing and absolutely touched our hearts. However, we are quite surprised that our son, Jacoby, didn't break out in his favorite dance 'the floss' while on stage!
"We are certainly blessed. They are our foundation and motivation."
Their parents and children shared the honor of pinning the Thompsons' new ranks to their uniforms and headgear: a silver eagle for Jo and a silver bar with a single black vertical stripe for Jared.
"This is truly a celebration for our entire family," Jared said. "Our children, families and friends have selflessly supported our careers over the years."
The Thompsons both agreed that without a strong support element they would not be where they are today.
The children received watches during the ceremony from their parents to signify the time and years of support and contributions they have given to their parents, the Army and our nation.
Jo credits her and her husband's successes to their exceptional leadership, Soldiers and civilians throughout their careers, and noted those especially at Redstone Arsenal.
"This accomplishment is truly not about us -- it is about years of teamwork, a reflection of thousands of amazing Soldiers and civilians, hours of blood, sweat and tears executing remarkable critical missions around the world for our nation's freedom," she said.
"We are very honored and thoroughly enjoy serving our country while doing what we love to do," Jared said.