Angelo State University selected retired U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Thomas G. Nurre Sr. as its 2023 Veteran of the Year.
Nurre made his decision to enlist after graduating from the IBM Punched Card Data Processing course at Gale Institute Commercial College in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After graduating from St. John High School in Bancroft, Iowa, in 1960, Nurre worked as a hired farmworker for his dad and neighbors during the summer and winter. Nurre, among others, then enlisted to complete their service obligations. In May 1961, Nurre enlisted in the Air Force and went on to serve 33 years on active duty before retiring in San Angelo in 1994.
Nurre decided to serve in the Air Force based on childhood experiences and family background. Six of his father’s brothers served during World War II, and Nurre thought the three who served in the Army or Air Force told the most interesting stories. “I enjoyed hearing about their adventures … and always liked the Steve Canyon comic book character too,” Nurre said. “The AF recruiting office was close to the commercial college, so it was a matter of childhood stories and convenient enlistment with great job choices.”
The stories that Nurre heard during his childhood formed visions of military life before he joined. “I imagined flying like my Uncle Richard Nurre,” Nurre said. “He told stories of the fine men he met while flying … pilots, navigators, radio operators and maintenance guys. They were educated and professional. I liked that a lot … plus their exploits during the war and their assignments overseas. It all seemed pretty exciting.” During his service, the routines, discipline and organization of the Air Force became his lifestyle. He adapted well, so after serving, his perceptions changed little.