The Auburn Examiner team is honored to have a veteran as one of our members. Cameron Thrall, our finance contributor, is a former Marine. Thrall spent nine years on active duty and four years in the reserves before resigning his commission as Major.
Semper Fi, Ooh Ra
Thrall enlisted in the Marines in May 1996. He earned his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant after graduating George Mason University with a BA in International Studies. “I was a part of what I refer to as the Top Gun generation,” said Thrall. “I wanted to fly, and I wanted to be a Naval Aviator.”
To decide which branch to enlist, Thrall spoke to each branch officer recruiter before selecting the Marines. “I joke that the uniform was the reason. While certainly true that they have the best-looking uniforms, it was the Marine Corps ethos and culture that convinced me,” said Thrall.
Upon his enlisting, Thrall entered the Platoon Leader’s Course. “I had to pass several written and physical exams to gauge my aptitude and ability to be an Officer and an aviator in the Marines,” explained Thrall. “At that time, I was told that for every slot there were 1000 applications. I can’t believe, in retrospect how lucky I was to earn that spot.”
Negative Ghost RA former Major in the Marines, AE Team member Cameron Thrall now works as a financial advisor on E. Main St in Downtown Auburn. ider, the Pattern is Full
Though Thrall wanted to fly jets, his ears had a different plan. “Every time we did spins and heavy aerobatic maneuvers I got airsick. In fact, they were going to kick me out of the program. I had to take medicines that didn’t work and go through the ‘spin and puke’ therapy where they try to acclimate the body and inner ear to these movements. That didn’t work,” explained Thrall.
With his body not able to handle flying jets, Thrall had to change course and convince his Senior Marine to allow him to fly helicopters instead. Because his grades and ability weren’t a question, he was cleared. “I picked the CH-46E helicopter out of flight school. I chose the 46 because it was going to be replaced with the MV-22 Osprey. I wanted to be on the cutting edge of that technology,” said Thrall.
9/11 – The Day the World Changed
One of the more difficult parts of Thrall’s service was September 11, 2001. “Our daughter was born on the morning of Sept 10, 2001,” shared Thrall. “We were woken up on the morning of the 11th to watch the news just as the second plane flew into the tower. We left the hospital the next day and I went directly to my squadron. I picked up my paternity leave papers and was told to go pack my war bag and bring it to the squadron. They would call me with deployment orders when they came through the chain. I cannot really describe the emotions. I was thrilled-no ecstatic to have our baby girl-but then I was panicked yet excited to deploy and actually do the mission I had been training to do. I still haven’t reconciled those feelings.”
Reflecting on his service, and those who enlist today, Thrall recognized that many of today’s service members have never lived in a time without war. “I have the utmost respect for the young men and women who are enlisting and serving today. There is nearly a 100% chance that they will deploy and fight,” said Thrall. “In my day there were only small little hot spots, [that were] still dangerous, but not long-lasting, to deal with. It was certainly a different world when I joined.”
Supporting Fellow Veterans
Thrall moved ten times in nine years during his time in the military. “We were stationed in Quantico, VA, Pensacola, FL, Corpus Christi, TX, back to Pensacola, Camp Pendleton, CA, and the last tour at Pensacola, FL,” said Thrall.
After his honorable discharge, Thrall and his family moved to Washington. “Both my wife, Becky, and I have family in the northwest. My family is in the Portland area. Her family is in the Seattle area. We thought this would be a good spot to plant roots as we had never had a family support network close by. We moved here in December of 2005 and haven’t looked back since,” said Thrall.
Now discharged, Thrall works with his VFW and other local organizations to help support fellow veterans and their families. “I think it is important to provide support and give back to the community I came from,” said Thrall. “Deployments and years of abnormal familial existence can’t help but take a toll on the service member and the family. With the help of my good friend and fellow veteran, Rick Leavitt, we find ways to support these individuals. [Leavitt] is really the leader in that effort, and I support him and our shared causes as much as possible.”
One of the organizations Thrall and Leavitt support is Wear Blue: Run to Remember. The Wear Blue website describes the organization as “a running community that honors the service and sacrifice of the American military.” According to the website, events and running groups are held nationally “to honor all military members killed in combat and has [also] evolved into a powerful network of active duty and retired service members, military families, Wounded Warriors, Gold Star families, and community members.”
Thrall lives in Bonney Lake with his wife, and daughter Lauren (18) who is in running start at Sumner high school. They have two sons Adam (25), a UW graduate and Trevor (23), a diesel mechanic. The Thralls are a hockey family and root for the best NHL team, the Washington Capitals. Thrall plays defense in a recreational league at the Tacoma Twin Rinks.
“We also love to travel,” said Thrall. “Our youngest wants to attend college in England and we went over in September to do some sight-seeing and check out the university she is applying to. Our fingers are crossed that she gets in.”
In addition to playing hockey, Thrall still flies. “After a 10-year hiatus, I started flying again out of Renton. I tried to walk away from flying but the attraction is too strong, and I’m happy to be flying again. If anything, I wish I had more time to do it and maybe combine some charity work with flying,” said Thrall.
Movin’ Onto Main Street
Thrall is an Edward Jones financial advisor, with an office located right off of E. Main street in downtown Auburn. “I chose to open my branch here in Auburn because I think this city is on the verge of amazingly positive economic changes. While I will work with anyone regardless of their income or savings, I primarily focus on small businesses and physicians as my past experience lends itself nicely to helping their unique financial needs,” shared Thrall.
Thrall earned his MBA from WGU Washington in 2015. He also has his series 7 and 66 investment licenses, as well as his Insurance license.
“I have enjoyed working with local Auburn businesses in the manufacturing and plumbing trades in setting up and advising on their 401k plans. Having a local advisor who is willing to educate employees on financial topics is a value add for these businesses and I am happy to be part of it,” said Thrall. “I am looking forward to being a bigger part of the Auburn community.”