Former U.S. Army Ranger Keni Thomas, a decorated service member who was part of the so-called “Black Hawk Down” mission, will share lessons he’s learned on how to achieve greatness through outstanding leadership in difficult times during Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s (IFBF) annual meeting Dec. 7-8 in Des Moines.

Thomas will speak to members during the general session, held in the Grand Ballroom at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., Dec. 8.

“Drawing on his experiences in the military, Thomas will motivate and captivate our members by underscoring the importance of leadership at every level,” said IFBF Community Resources Manager Ronnette Vondrak. “His message of ‘train as you fight — fight as you train — and lead by example’ will resonate with our members after the obstacles they have faced during such unparalleled times. Our members have remained strong, continued to be flexible and have been committed to their farms, their families and their future to achieve success through it all.”

Thomas was deployed in 1993 to Mogadishu, Somalia, with the 3rd Ranger Battalion as part of an elite special operations called Task Force Ranger. Their mission was to find and capture a criminal warlord named Mohammed Farrah Aidid. 

On Oct. 3, 1993, Thomas and his fellow rangers distinguished themselves in an 18-hour firefight that would later be recounted in the book and movie “Black Hawk Down.” 

In total, 19 Americans gave their lives, and 78 others were wounded in what at the time was the worst urban combat seen by U.S. troops since World War II.

For his service, Thomas was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor and the American Patriot Award.

Pulling on his combat experience, combined with his many successes since leaving the military, Thomas will speak to members on the value of leadership and the individual effort needed to be part of a team.

“Leadership has never been about the rank or the position you hold. It’s about the example you set,” Thomas said during a recent presentation. “There are people to your left and to your right who are counting on you, and it’s up to you to deliver. But you will only be as good as you prepared yourself to be.”

Since leaving the military, Thomas has pursued his musical career and now works as a full-time country music recording artist and songwriter in Nashville. Thomas and his band, Cornbread, were featured in the movie “Sweet Home Alabama,” and his music can be heard on country stations nationwide. He is also national spokesman for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

Additional information on the IFBF annual meeting is available at