Thomas V. Draude was born on April 25, 1940 in Kankakee, Illinois. His father, Henry Joseph Draude, was a German immigrant who worked as a plumber and steam fitter from age 14 until his death in 1978. His mother, Marjorie Cloonen Draude, daughter of Irish immigrants, was a registered nurse and the Kankakee County Tuberculosis nurse at the time of her death in 1960. His sister, Helen Ingram, died in 1992. His other sister, Sharon, resides in Kankakee.
Draude graduated as Valedictorian from St. Patrick Central High School (now Bishop McNamara High School) in 1958 and was captain of his school's first undefeated football team. He was selected to the McNamara Hall of Honor.
He graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1962 and was selected to compete as a Rhodes Scholar. While at the Academy he was a member of the Plebe Football team and President of the Cardinal Neuman Club.
He was selected to remain after graduation from Annapolis to teach drill and marksmanship to the incoming plebe Class of 1966. He then served as an Assistant Operations officer until reporting to The Basic School in December 1962. He graduated with honors in June 1963 and reported to 3rd Battalion 1st Marines, Camp Pendleton. This unit was part of the 30 month Transplacement Program which formed in Camp Pendleton, sailed to Okinawa for 13 months and was designated 1st Battalion 3rd Marines. At the end of its overseas period, it sailed back to Camp Pendleton and was re-designated 1st Battalion 7th Marines.
Draude began as a weapons platoon commander and then became a rifle platoon commander. In March 1964 he and his reinforced platoon were deployed from Okinawa to Da Nang, South Vietnam. The platoon was to provide security for the Marine Air Base Squadron supporting Marine helicopter squadrons which were supporting South Vietnamese Armed Forces. This platoon also was part of the security for the Da Nang airfield and elements spent time with U.S. Army Special Forces units in the Khe Sanh and A Shau. Upon their return to Okinawa, Draude became the company executive officer and was later selected to be the battalion adjutant. The battalion mounted out in response to the Gulf of Tonkin attack and remained afloat until its return to Okinawa, then back to California.
In preparation for sure participation in the Vietnam War, the battalion participated in Operation Silver Lance, in January 1965, in amphibious exercise simulating challenges it would face later. In May 1965 it deployed as the lead element of RLT-7 led by Colonel (later General) Oscar Peatross. Upon return to Okinawa it was designated the Seventh Fleet Special Landing Force and took part in Starlite, the largest U.S. operation in South Vietnam up to that time. Draude served as battalion adjutant until October 1965 when he returned to Company "M", where he had started two years earlier, as executive officer. In January 1966 his company commander was wounded and evacuated. Draude took command and remained until August, extending his tour in Vietnam to remain with his company. During his tour he was promoted to captain and took part in operations near Cha Lai. For his actions he received two awards of the Silver Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry Medal with Palm.
Draude was then assigned as one of the first groups of Marine Instructors at the U.S. Army’s John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. For his service he received the Army Commendation Medal. He then attended the Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School, graduating with honors, and continued at the Marine Advisor Course in preparation for his assignment to the Republic of Vietnam Marine Corps.
Arriving in Saigon in May 1969 he initially joined the 6th Battalion for operations in Tay Ninh to eject NVA forces. For his actions, he was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V”. He served subsequently as an assistant brigade advisor and senior advisor to the 5th Battalion. This was the place of the war named “Vietnamization” with more responsibilities assigned to the Vietnamese units as U.S. forces drew down. The area of operations for 5th Battalion was primarily IV Corps (South Vietnam) and eventually Cambodia as part of the 1970 invasion. For his service with the Vietnamese he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V”, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star, and the Vietnamese Honor Medal, First Class.
Draude reported to the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1970 and served two years as a Company Officer and one year as Brigade Performance Officer. For his three years of service he was awarded a Meritorious Service Medal. During this tour he was promoted to major.
Reporting to Frankfurt, West Germany he assumed command of Company “A” Marine Security Guard Battalion. His command of Marine Security Guards at Embassies and Consulates stretched from Moscow, USSR, to Reykjavik, Iceland, to Nicosia, Cyprus.
In 1975 he reported as a student at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. He graduated with honors and with a Master of Military Art and Service degree. His Master’s paper was on the relief of battalion commanders and below during the Vietnam War.
In 1976 he became the executive officer, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, and later the S-4 of the 5th Marines. During a Palm Tree exercise at 29 Palms featuring a mechanized task force, he tested a concept of logistic support which proved successful. He then spent a year in Okinawa as the III MAF assistant plans officer. This tour culminated with a multi-battalion exercise on Okinawa named Fortress Gale. During this tour he was promoted to lieutenant colonel.
His next assignment was at Headquarters Marine Corps, as an action officer in the Joint Strategic Planning Branch. His responsibilities included the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan, the Joint Strategic Long Range Appraisal, and various special projects. He was awarded a second Meritorious Service Medal for his performance. He was then assigned to the National War College as a student, graduating in 1982.
Reporting to Headquarters, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific (United States Marine Corps Forces Pacific) in Hawaii, he was assigned to the G-3 section as Ground Operations officer. Selected to the grade of Colonel he then became inspector of FMF, Pac until his assignment as G-1 FMF.
In 1985 he reported to First Marine Division as G-3. In this assignment he developed a concept of division command post configuration stressing survivability and mobility to include night displacements with tactical and jump command posts. He then returned to the “Fighting Fifth Marines” as its commanding officer. He focused the regiment on the next war, emphasizing fire support coordination and practicing Suppression of Enemy Air Defense with artillery fire protecting close air support aircraft.
In 1987 he reported to Headquarters Marine Corps for duty as the Secretary of the General Staff working for the Chief of Staff of the Marine Corps. Selected to the grade of brigadier general in 1989, he was assigned to the Pentagon under the Deputy Secretary of Defense. His assignment was to implement David Packard’s Defense Management Report, designed to improve efficiencies and find savings in the United States Department of Defense. At the end of one year the implementations was completed, and he volunteered to serve in Desert Shield. For his service he was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.
Assigned to be the Assistant Division Commander of the First Marine Division, he joined the division in Saudi Arabia in October 1990. The division’s focus changed from defensive to offensive in November with the arrival of the Second Marine Division. Draude’s focus was on the logistics support of the division as well as planning artillery raids and the assault into Kuwait. He was also designated the deception officer for Marine Forces using amphibious forces, tanks, artificial tanks and artillery pieces, and Task Force Troy to achieve surprise and capture of most of the Iraqi forces. For his performance he was awarded the Legion of Merit Medal with Combat “V”.
His final assignment was Director of Public Affairs at Headquarters Marine Corps. His focus was maintaining the positive relationship established with the members of the media in Desert Shield/Desert Storm to enable the Marine Corps to tell its story to the American people. He also restructured the enlisted Public Affairs training to produce Marines capable of being spokespersons in all media channels. From March 1992 until his retirement he also served as President George H. W. Bush’s Commission on the Assignment of women in the Armed Forces, one of two active duty personnel on the 15 member commission. It studied, reviewed, interviewed, and traveled for nine months before submitting its recommendations. In the process, it raised questions about the role of women in the military and raised the conscientiousness of the American people to this issue. Draude recommended that women be given a chance to qualify for positions previously denied them aboard combatant vessels and in combat aviation, and then be allowed to serve.
After 30 ½ years of active service, Draude retired at a Midnight Mass with family and friends on New Year’s Eve, 1992. For his years of service he was awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal at a ceremony conducted by his dearest friend (and former Commandant of the Marine Corps) General Charles C. Krulak, USMC.
In February 1993 Draude began his next career with USAA, headquartered in San Antonio, Texas. He began as vice president of Support Services at the home office and was in charge of the vehicles and aircraft, printing and publishing, food services, supply and storage, and retail stores in the company.
Assigned as senior vice president and general manager of USAA’s Western Region of its Property and Casualty line, Draude headed operations covering California, Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii, and Nevada. At this time USAA began expanding membership to enlisted members of the Armed Forces and their families as well as to officers. In response, Draude established a “Military 101” course for employees, most of whom had no military experience, to aid in their support of this expanding membership.
In February 1995 he was transferred to Tampa, Florida to head the Southeast Region and its 1700 employees. The region covered the states of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and the Caribbean Islands, and represented approximately 20% of the total USAA membership.
In the Spring of 2004, General Draude was contacted by General Carl E. Mundy who was Chairman of the Marine Corps University Foundation in Quantico, Virginia. The Foundation was seeking a new CEO and General Draude was asked to consider competing for the position. He was selected and began his service in September 2004.
The Foundation is the development arm for the Marine Corps University (MCU) as well as the support of the Operating Forces and Supporting Establishment of the entire Marine Corps. Its focus is on Professional Military Education and Leadership provided by Academic Chairs, visiting scholars, battlefield studies and other related activities. The Foundation also provided the initial funding for the Leadership Communication Skills Center in 2005 that ensured the re-accreditation of MCU by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). MCUF did so again in 2015 with its funding of The Center for Problem Solving and Critical Thinking, an additional MCU educational program, to complete the SACS requirement for re-accreditation. MCUF also initiated the Center for Case Studies which uses the Case Method to educate Marines at MCU, The Basic School, and throughout the Marine Corps, from the grades of private to general officer.
General Draude also taught an elective at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College (C&SC). His course on Information Operations satisfied the academic requirement for awarding the additional Military Occupational Specialty of Information Operations Staff Officer. Nearly one hundred Marine Officers were eligible for this specialty designation as a result of completing this elective and participating in the C&SC's Exercise "Nine Innings" at the end of the Academic Year.
For his service to MCU, it awarded General Draude an honorary doctoral degree in Warfare Studies and the Leonard F. Chapman, Jr. Award for outstanding service to the Foundation. The Expeditionary Warfare School named its auditorium after him in recognition of his service to its students.
He retired as President and CEO of MCUF on 30 June 2015 and is now residing with his wife Sandi in Tampa, Florida. His academic interests continue as he serves as an adjunct faculty member of St. Leo University in Saint Leo, Florida, and at The University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida.
Draude has been married to Marysandra Campagna Draude, a former Marine officer, since November 1966. They have three children:, Loree, a former naval aviator (F/A-18 and Lockheed S-3 Viking); Head of Ads Help and Education at Facebook; Patrick, a retired Naval Intelligence commander and now a military analyst for the Federal Government; and Ryan, a hospitality strategy consultant. They also have four grandchildren, Sam, Julia, Priya and Leena.
Brigadier General Draude's decorations and medals include:Note: The gold US Navy Parachute Rigger badge was worn unofficially by USMC personnel in place of US Army parachutist badge from 1942-1963 before it officially became the Navy and Marine Corps Parachutist insignia on July 12, 1963 per BuPers Notice 1020. Members of the Marine Corps who attended jump school before 1963 were issued the silver Army parachutist badge but may be depicted wearing the gold Navy Parachute Rigger badge as it was common practice during this time period.