Commander Ahren "Swacket" Thornton, a native of Emporia, Kansas, graduated from the United States Naval Academy in May of 2001 with a Bachelor of Science in Oceanography. After completing primary flight training with Training Squadron TWO-EIGHT (VT-28) and intermediate at Training Squadron THIRTY-ONE (VT-31), he earned his wings and was designated a Naval Aviator with Training Squadron NINE (VT-9) in August of 2003.
Following Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) training with Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron ONE TWO ZERO (VAW-120), Thornton reported to the "Golden Hawks" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron ONE ONE TWO (VAW-112) at Naval Air Station (NAS) Point Mugu, California. He served as Aviation Safety Officer, Pilot Training Officer, Aircraft Division Officer, and Head Landing Signal Officer (LSO), earning qualification as an E-2C Hawkeye Carrier Airborne Plane Commander, Functional Check Flight Pilot, and Wing LSO. He deployed with the Golden Hawks aboard USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70) in 2005 and again in 2007 aboard USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74) in support of Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM and was selected as the West Coast Hawkeye Pilot of the Year in 2007.
In January of 2008, Thornton reported to the "Greyhawks" of VAW-120 at NAS Norfolk, Virginia. He served as Operations Administration Officer, Aircraft Division Branch Officer, and E-2C/C-2A Phase-Head LSO, while becoming an E-2C Instructor Pilot and earning his LSO Training qualification.
In February of 2011, Thornton reported to Carrier Air Wing ONE aboard USS ENTERPRISE (CVN-65), where he completed two combat deployments as a Staff qualified LSO (CAG LSO) and CAG Safety Officer in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and counter piracy operations in the North Arabian Sea.
In October of 2012, Thornton reported to the "Sun Kings" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron ONE ONE SIX (VAW-116) at NAS Point Mugu. He served as the Safety Officer, Quality Assurance Officer, and Maintenance Officer, and completed a 10-month deployment in 2014-15 with the "Sun Kings" aboard USS CARL VINSON (CVN-70) in support of Operation INHERENT RESOLVE.
Following his department head tour, Thornton reported to the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. While completing his Joint Professional Military Education, he also earned his Master of Science in Adult and Continuing Education from Kansas State University in May of 2016.
In June of 2016, Thornton reported to Command Naval Air Forces, Pacific in San Diego where he served as the E-2C/D and C-2A Readiness Officer. While attached to CNAP, he was responsible for manpower, training, and equipment for all Hawkeye and Greyhound activities on the West Coast and served on the Navy V-22 Integrated Transition Team.
Thornton reported to Training Squadron TWO-EIGHT (VT-28) at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, in August 2019 and serves as the executive officer.
Thornton has accumulated more than 3000 military flight hours and over 360 CVN arrested landings. His personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal (4), Navy Commendation Medal (3), Navy Achievement Medal (3), and numerous service and campaign ribbons.