Col Jeff Thurlby is the Chief of Aerospace Medicine for the 188th Medical Group, 188th Wing, Fort Smith, Arkansas. Col Thurlby oversees the health and medical currency of the airmen of the 188th Wing, adhering to published medical standards, in order to support commanders’ total force fitness and the accomplishment of the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance mission.

Col Thurlby entered the Air Force in June of 1990 at the United States Air Force Academy. He was chosen to spend one semester on exchange at the U.S. Naval Academy in 1992 and served as the wing Cadet Wing Vice-Commander in 1994 prior to graduating in the top 1% of his class militarily. He was awarded a Health Professions Scholarship to attend the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, AR where he earned a Medical Degree and served as the class honor officer. After completing an internship in general surgery at Wright-Patterson AFB in 1999, then Captain Thurlby served as the Chief of the Aerospace Medicine Element at Vance AFB, Oklahoma for three years. Major Thurlby completed his anesthesiology residency at Wilford Hall Medical Center, Lackland AFB, TX, in 2005. During this year, he supported CCATT operations for Hurricane Katrina and then Hurricane Rita, evacuating dozens of critical patients out of the threatened areas in advance of these natural disasters.

Col Thurlby’s next assignment was as the Medical Director of the anesthesia department at Langley AFB, VA at the 1st Fighter Wing hospital where he also volunteered in the Flight Medicine clinic. He helped stand up the acute care unit in advance of the construction of the new hospital in preparation for re-opening the hospital ICU. In 2007, Col Thurlby served as the chief of anesthesia in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM at the theater hospital in Bagram, Afghanistan. After returning home, he was chosen as the Deputy Chief of the Medical Staff at Langley, and then served as the Acting Chief of the Medical Staff during the Chief Medical Officer’s deployment. Col Thurlby’s performance in this role earned him the full time Chief of Medical Staff position back home in Little Rock, Arkansas at the 19th Medical Group. During this time, he helped lead the medical group through a successful accreditation inspection prior to returning to Bagram, Afghanistan for a second deployment in 2011. During this time, he volunteered to go forward to Asadabad and Jalalabad to support operational contingencies. Upon returning home, Col Thurlby, his wife of now 24 years, and four children, elected to leave active duty for the Air Force Reserve and a civilian medical career. Col Thurlby served as the Chief of Flight Medicine at the 913th Medical Group from 2012 to 2015. Here, he was promoted to O-6 and transitioned to the same position at the 188th Medical Group to support the new MQ-9 active duty ISR mission.


Col Thurlby has served as a staff anesthesiologist and chief anesthesiologist at the major hospitals in Northwest Arkansas over the past 8 years. During the past ten years, Col Thurlby has also served on three medical mission trips in Haiti and Africa.


1994 B.S. Biology from the United States Air Force Academy

1998 M.D. University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

1999 Internship General Surgery Wright-Patterson and Wright State University

2001 Squadron Officer School by Correspondence

2002-2005 Residency in Anesthesiology. Board Certified by American Board of Anesthesiology

2008 Air Command and Staff College by Correspondence

2010 Chief of Medical Staff Leadership Course


1. July 1999 – June 2002, Element Chief, Aerospace Medicine, Vance AFB, Oklahoma

2. June 2002 – July 2006, Anesthesia Resident and Anesthesiologist, Lackland AFB, Texas

3. July 2006 – April 2010, Anesthesiologist, First Fighter Wing, Langley AFB, Virginia

4. April 2010 – April 2012, Chief of the Medical Staff, 19th Medical Group, Little Rock, Arkansas

5. April 2012 – November 2015, Chief of Aerospace Medicine, 913th Air Reserve Group, Little Rock, Arkansas

6. November 2015 – December 2020 Chief of Aerospace Medicine, 188th Medical Group, Fort Smith, Arkansas

7. December 202 - Present. Commander 188th Medical Group, Fort Smith, Ark. 


Meritorious Service Medal

Air Force Commendation Medal

Army Commendation Medal

National Defense Service Medal

Humanitarian Service Medal


National Guard Association of the United States – Lifetime Member

American Society of Anesthesiologists

Arkansas Society of Anesthesiologists

Arkansas Medical Society