Military: Enlisted in the Marine Corps as a Private in March 1965. More than 36 years of creditable service later retired as Deputy Commander, National Ground Intelligence Center, full Colonel, US Army Reserve. Ended with more years ‘called up’ active through Reserve than the four with the Marine Corps. Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Airborne (at age 41), Expert Infantryman Badge, Drill Sergeant Badge, etc. Vietnam 1967-1969, Global War on Terrorism 2001-2004. Reorganized the entire troop unit reserve assets of the National Ground Intelligence Center. Last active tour was in 2006 to assist standing up the Defense Joint Intelligence Operations Center within the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Civilian (following return from Vietnam): Electronics Mechanic (insert Indiana University here, B.S. in Education, general science major, chemistry minor); IRS Revenue Officer and then Administrative Intern; VA Veterans Benefits Counselor; back to IRS as HR Position Classification Specialist; then to the Navy as Labor Relations and Employee Relations specialist, Management Analyst. Served on two national level federal civilian task forces, IRS and Navy.
Highest degree: Master of Science of Strategic Intelligence, National Intelligence University [formerly Joint Military Intelligence College], Washington, DC, 2003.
Quit MENSA. Seemed pointless. Greene County Indiana school system tests pegged me at 160 I.Q. Marine Corps (after several days without much sleep, I’d like to point out) at 155.
Politics: ‘Ran for US House, Indiana 9th District but lost in 2012 Democratic primary. Accepted no donations.
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Left college in January 1965 to volunteer for USMC after turning eighteen. Enlisted for four years during start of Vietnam War with no guarantee of any school or assignment. Received draft card in mail while in basic training.
Placed in USMC Basic Electronics School because of test scores. GCT score of 155. Selected for first computer fundamentals course in Marine Corps history as result of electronics school record.
Helped Marine Air Control Squadron 4 deploy Marine Tactical Data System near Danang, Vietnam. Saw use and effects of napalm, C-130 and helicopter gunships, Viet Cong rocket attacks, and small arms fire. Shot at twice, missed both times.
Volunteered for six month extension in Vietnam, served total of 18 months in country. Related awards include Vietnam Campaign Medal with three bronze campaign stars, Naval Unit Citation, and Presidential Unit Citation.
Separated from active duty in January 1969. Used VA “G.I. Bill” to finish Bachelor of Science in Education degree in 3½ years at Indiana University while working part-time jobs. Honor Student.
Obtained maximum score on Federal Service Entrance Examination. Worked series of federal civilian positions for next 23 years in Internal Revenue Service, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Department of the Navy. Selected as IRS Administrative Intern from among 250 applicants. On national level task forces for both Internal Revenue Service and Department of the Navy. Continued civilian education with 42 graduate semester hours from several universities.
Enlisted in Army Reserve basic training company in 1979, serving without break in service through 30 November 2006. Promoted from SP4 to SGT, completed Drill Sergeant qualification in 8½ working days, promoted to SSG six months later. Trained entry level Soldiers at forts Jackson, Knox, and Benning.
Received direct commission to 1LT less than one month before 35th birthday based on test scores, education, and service record. Chose Infantry branch. Discovered there was a competition for honor graduate from Infantry Officer Basic Course at Ft. Benning only after first examination. Finished second in 150+ member class at graduation in spite of handicap start. Assumed command of basic training company as 1LT, served in a variety of positions within training battalion. First Army Commendation Medal. Completed Infantry Officer Advanced Course. Promoted to CPT.
Completed requirements for Expert Infantryman Badge, including obtaining maximum score on PT test while wearing combat uniform and leather boots, in 1984 at age 38. Completed Airborne training in Delta Company (“the Rock”), Ft. Benning Airborne School in 1988 at age 41.
Transferred to Military Intelligence Detachment in order to obtain MAJ position. Completed Military Intelligence Officer Transition and Advanced courses. Held Top Secret (Special Background Investigation) clearance, later supplemented with a variety of special access codes, from 1993 until retirement.
Volunteered for tour with Defense Intelligence Agency in 1996. Assigned to South Asia Branch, Regional Assessments. Wrote paper on Indian armor forces praised by Director, DIA Production Directorate – largest directorate in DIA. Detailed to National Military Joint Intelligence Center in Pentagon due to Iraqi incursion into Kurdistan. Replaced active duty intelligence analyst. Top block OER, “MENSA member . . . The strength of analysis which MAJ Tilford presented . . shifted U.S. intelligence community thinking . . best USAR officer I have had the privilege to supervise in 22 years as a Regular Army officer, and in 3 years as a DIA civilian supervisor.”
Volunteered for tour with National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC) in 1997. Assigned to monitor North Korea. Developed “Fourth World” version of Kim regime future that proved accurate. Simultaneously completed Command and General Staff Course by correspondence in a little over two months. Three years were allowed.
Volunteered for and was competitively selected as only military member on DIA skills-based occupational analysis project from March 1998 through January 1999. Headed analysis of intelligence analyst occupation, central occupation of national intelligence community. Detailed back to South Asia Branch after Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests embarrassed U.S. intelligence community summer 1998, then returned to human resources project. Top block OER, “DIA, due . . to his efforts, is the first agency in the national intelligence community to sample the applied skills of military positions during development of a skills-based HR system.” Promoted to LTC.
Volunteered for DIA tour funded for Kosovo crisis in 1999, but was immediately assigned to South Asia Branch because of Pakistani incursion into Indian territory near Kargil. DIA Comptroller determined I was more valuable to national interests assigned to India-Pakistan work than to Kosovo. Above COM OER, “Lieutenant Colonel Tilford helped policymakers avert conflict between two nuclear armed adversaries.”
Volunteered in 2000 to lead first Army Reserve remote annual training in support of DIA from Wright-Patterson AFB Joint Reserve Intelligence Center. Mission successful, remote process adopted by other DIA MIDs and used by other MI detachments during Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM.
One of only seven Army Reserve applicants selected nationally in 2000 to be admitted to Post Graduate Intelligence Program (Reserve) at Joint Military Intelligence College, Washington, DC. Started two year program that October. As executive officer of 3416th MID, scheduled drills to enable full service in both student and executive officer capacities. Earned 42 additional graduate semester hours by August 2002, six semester hours in 2003 for completed thesis.
Selected to help instruct two week urban counter-surveillance training for new CIA field agents. Flew out of Indianapolis but arrived Washington, DC weekend after 9/11 by rental car from Hagerstown, MD. Reagan National Airport was closed. Training considered too important to cancel.
By-name requested by DIA South Asia Branch for mobilization immediately after 9/11, but mobilized to DIA with 3416th MID as executive officer before by-name request could be processed. Reassigned to South Asia Branch upon arrival at request of Director, DIA Production Directorate. Assigned to lead Kashmir Team after 13 December 2001 terrorist attack on Indian parliament. Finished draft report on retaliatory Indian military options at 0430 14 December 2001. Report requested and read across intelligence community, by offices of Secretaries of Defense and State, NATO, and U.S. military attaché in New Delhi, India. Published weekly paper on status of India-Pakistan standoff in Kashmir region at requests of offices of secretaries of Defense and State, and applied during departments of Defense and State negotiations regarding Pakistani support to GWOT. Prepared and presented special briefings to congressional staffs, developed requested intelligence products for the Office of the White House. Reassigned in April 2002 to Chief, Afghanistan Cell in J-2M-2B, Intelligence Support Division for Joint Chiefs of Staff in Pentagon. (Active Duty Air Force predecessor had been relieved “on the spot” by J-2 Rear Admiral Jacoby after start of Operation ANACONDA.) Afghanistan Cell met all briefing and production requirements through end of my first post-9/11 mobilization. Coordinated Afghanistan Cell briefs/products between Cell and CENTCOM. Completed PGIP-R classes at JMIC. Made first application for MID command. Selected for command of 3421st MID(PD) to be effective upon de-mobilization from active duty. Above COM OER, “His incisive analysis and reporting on the India-Pakistan crisis was lauded by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State and had a direct positive impact on U.S. policy in the region . . Superior performance by one of the best Army O-5’s of any component I’ve observed in 34 years.” [Senior Rater: SES-4 Chief, DIA Regional Assessments] Defense Meritorious Service Medal and two Joint Service Achievement Medals.
Assumed command of 3421st MID on 11 November 2002. Led that unit into its first ever mobilization on 3 December 2002 to NGIC in support of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM. Three weeks at home between mobilizations. Served second full year mobilization with NGIC and volunteered for 179 day extension to remain with unit as long as funding would permit. Developed, and coordinated Department of the Army approval for, total reorganization of NGIC troop unit reserve assets, almost doubling number of billets. (The 3421st MID was acknowledged by NGIC management and detachment peers as best MID assigned to NGIC. Three unit members had tours in Iraq, and one in Afghanistan. Completed thesis requirement for Master of Science in Strategic Intelligence (MSSI), degree awarded 8 August 2003. Less than 20% of PGIP-R graduates complete thesis and obtain MSSI. Thesis included recommendations to DIA of best methods to recruit and select intelligence analysts for post-9/11 expansion. DIA adopted majority of recommendations. Above COM OER, “. . exceeded all objectives . . reorganization has become the prototype for TPU intelligence support in the intelligence community. Top 5% MI leader. Spearheaded a plan which doubled the authorized staffing of NGIC’s Army Reserve TPUs. Directly contributed to NGIC and INSCOM wartime success.” [Senior Rater: MG Kimmons, Commander, INSCOM] Meritorious Service Medal.
De-mobilized 29 May 2004 to return to civilian service for Monroe County, Indiana veterans. Coordinated de-mobilization and new intelligence production tasking for 3421st MID(PD).
Promoted to Colonel effective 21 December 2005 after confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Assigned as Deputy Commander, National Ground Intelligence Center.
Was requested and agreed to serve one last short tour (106 days) to assist “standing up” the Defense Joint Intelligence Operation Center within the Defense Intelligence Agency, Washington, DC in mid-2006.
Transferred to the Retired Reserve effective 1 December 2006, mandatory retirement at age 60.
Awarded Legion of Merit, June 2008 in ceremony at National Ground Intelligence Center.
Marine Corps Basic and Infantry Training
Marine Corps Basic Electronics Course
Marine Corps Computer Fundamentals Course
Marine Corps Tactical Data System Course
Army Reserve Drill Sergeant
Infantry Officer – Basic and Advanced Courses
Training Managers Course
Military Intelligence Officer – Transition and Advanced Courses
Command and General Staff Course
Joint Military Intelligence College, Post-Graduate Intelligence Program, Reserve
DECORATIONS AND BADGES
Legion of Merit
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Army Meritorious Service Medal
Army Commendation Medal (with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster)
Joint Service Achievement Medal (with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster)
Army Achievement Medal (with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster)
National Defense Service Medal (with 2 Bronze Service Stars)
Vietnam Service Medal (with 3 Bronze Service Stars)
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Presidential Unit Citation
Naval Unit Commendation
Army Service Ribbon
Armed Forces Reserve Medal (with M device and Oak Leaf Cluster)
Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal (7th Award)
Good Conduct Medal
Expert Infantryman Badge
Drill Sergeant Badge
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal (with Device )
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Applied for and attained a direct commission, almost unknown for an Infantry Officer. Much more common for doctors, dentists, and attorneys. Attained maximum score of 300 points on Army Physical Fitness Test every year from 1984 through 1998, often on the 17-22 year old scale, most often graded by active component scorers while on annual training or on active duty tours. Completed Indianapolis Marathon, Army Ten-Miler, Air Force Marathon relay, many local 10Ks and 5Ks, two biathlons, and one triathlon. Left and right first metatarsal joints replaced with plastic artificial joints in 1987 – originals had worn out. Permanently disabled right ankle playing basketball during 3416th MID physical training in March 1999. Scored 298 in April 1999. Refused “physical profiles” when offered by military physicians in order to take APFT with troops. Currently rated 60% service connected disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Published articles, Military (classified): approximately 50 with topics including international relations, order of battle, US negotiation background papers for the secretaries of Defense and State, and situational summaries and predictions for a variety of additional customers such as the Joint Chiefs of Staff, CENTCOM, PACOM, NATO, SHAPE, and the Office of the White House.
Started on the Monday following my first separation from active duty (Marine Corps) on a Friday. January 1969. “Electronics Mechanic”, a federal wage-grade position with the [then named] Naval Ammunition Depot, Crane, Indiana. Lived at my old home with Dad and my step-mother, saving money to return to Indiana University – the same school where the seventeen year old me had played basketball late each night and slept through his morning classes, was therefore on academic probation, and ran away by enlisting in the Corps. (US equivalent of the French Foreign Legion, in my just-18-year-old mind, at least.)
Returned to school, still on probation. 4.0 GPA first semester back, graduated in 3½ years with an overall 3.2 GPA while working part time job, obtained maximum score on the Federal Service Entrance Examination (FSEE).
Revenue Officer, Internal Revenue Service, 1973-1974. New Albany, Indiana. Collected (and sometimes justified not collecting) taxes in what is now the southern portion of the Indiana 9th District, US House of Representatives.
Administrative Intern, IRS, 1974-1975. Central Region Office, Cincinnati, Ohio. Selected from 250 applicants. Chose the personnel field of administration. Transfered to get Polly and new son Aaron closer to my in-laws in Bloomington, Indiana.
Veterans Benefits Counselor, 1975-1979. One of the best, if not the best, of all the positions I ever held – the first directly helping people.
Position Classification Specialist, IRS, 1979-1983. Different floor in same Minton-Capehart Federal Building, Indianapolis, Indiana. Left the GS-9 VA job for a GS-11 IRS job – and to work with some of my old friends from Cincinnati. But mainly for More Money. Wife and kids. My first national level task force, “Multifunctional Positions”. I was the only personnel specialist on the team. One of our last meetings was in DC overlapping the 1982 airplane crash on the 14th Street bridge over the Potomac.
Position Classification Specialist, Position Management Specialist, Labor Relations Specialist, Employee Relations Specialist, Management Analyst; Department of the Navy, 1983-1995. Right back at the same Naval facility, newer name: ‘Naval Weapons Warfare Center, Crane Division’. Took an early retirement in 1995. While I enjoyed the helping people and helping increase organizational efficiency and effectiveness, Crane management was primarily interested in increasing the amount of money flowing into Crane. So sometimes I just sat, did what seemed to me piddly things, and collected my GS-12 pay. Example: “That’s the best position management study I ever read” – from the Director, Planning and Resources Department; my second level boss. My first significant study and my last. My team and I documented where the problems were and made specific recommendations. What I thought was the right thing to do. Never was assigned any more significant studies – only secondary. Did not wonder why not. There was a nice gymnasium, though. I’d transferred to Crane for a promotion and to be closer to my elderly father and step-mother. Bloomington is not that far from Bloomfield. When I could retire early, I did.
Self-employment, 1995-1998. Based from home. Crane personnel and training functions contracted with me for position classification and training design. The federal Office of Personnel Management gave me a position classification accuracy study project. American Federation of Government Workers, Chapter 1415 contracted with me to train their new union stewards. Odd, you say, since I was on the other side of the table from AFGE 1415 for years negotiating contracts? During arbitrations? Arguing unfair labor practice charges? Well, they respected me. I never kept any secrets from AFGE which drove the management attorneys nuts.
Eased out of self-employment as I started getting calls from [first example, 1996] the Defense Intelligence Agency. “Do you want a three month active duty tour here in Washington, DC? At Major [double entendré] pay? We’ll cover your apartment and rental car.” Let me think . . . YES!
Three months at DIA, was recognized for real work impacting national security, nine more months at DIA, more recognition & satisfaction, three months at the National Ground Intelligence Center, etc. Then 9/11. (See Military Career above.)
Monroe County [Indiana] Veterans Service Officer, 2000-2006, but continue to assist active duty, reserve, and veteran clients apply for benefits and represent clients during appeals, up to and including the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in Washington, DC. Passed Department of Veterans Affairs examination for accreditation as attorney or claims agent, currently VA accredited. (Took less than ten minutes completing and checking answers for examination. Ninety minutes are authorized.) Still handling veterans’ and surviving spouses’ VA appeals. Win most.
Proposed legislation pertaining to the former Survivors Benefit Plan and Dependency Indemnity Compensation offset, traveled to DC to coordinate with Congressional offices. Offset repealed. Write military and veteran articles for local publication.
Founded Hoosier Honor Flight, Inc. in 2008 to fly local WWII veterans to Washington, DC to see their national WWII Memorial. First flight conducted on 12 November 2008 for 40 veterans, second on 22 April 2009 for 112 veterans, third on 21 October 2009 for 36, fourth on 28 April 2010 for 90. Fourth included 48 Korean War veterans because WWII applications had been exhausted.
Filed a case on behalf of local disabled veteran with the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, won. Pro bono attorney organization did not want the case, considered it a ‘loser’. Vet and I did it ourselves. Case went to the Court three times (2nd and 3rd with pro bono attorney representing) for conclusive – and precedent-setting – third decision in the veterans favor. Veteran paid $35K back compensation. Claim for individual unemployability initially denied and on appeal now. I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request because of the precedent setting nature of this case to discover approximately how many other veterans the VA denied on the now proven to be erroneous basis. VA response to FOIA was 18 months late, inadequate, and is now in FOIA appeal status with the VA General Counsel.
Had two dependency indemnity compensation (DIC) denial cases for widows at the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) level in Washington, DC. Both won in 2019. One $99K back dependency indemnity compensation, other $85K. Both monthly rates now $1,309. I enjoy catching and correcting VA errors which have harmed veterans or surviving spouses, but the cases could have been properly developed and adjudicated initially.
Published articles, Civilian: approximately 75 with topics including international relations, federal personnel management, general and military history, and veterans issues.