Born on June 25, 1940, in Washington, DC, Thomas L. Prather, Jr., graduated from Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland, in 1962 with an ROTC commission. He first served in Germany from 1962 to 1965 as a Platoon Leader in the 546th Ordnance Company then as a Supply Officer in the 84th and 66th Ordnance battalions. Returning to the United States, Prather served in the 2d Armored Division from 1965 to 1967 as Executive Officer and then Commander of Headquarters Company, 2d Battalion, 66th Armor, while also serving as the Battalion Maintenance Officer and S4 (Logistics).
Prather next saw duty in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968 as the Assistant Supply Officer, then Supply Officer, for the 198th Infantry Brigade. He returned to the United States for the Ordnance Officer Advanced Course and in 1969 was selected as Chief, Consolidated Equipment Maintenance Division, US Army Ordnance Center and School, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. After completion of Command and General Staff College, he served as a Personnel Management Officer in the Ordnance Branch of the Officer Personnel Management Directorate, US Army Military Personnel Center, Alexandria, Virginia, where he managed assignments and career development for 1,300 captains.
From 1974 to 1975, Prather was a Project Officer in the Industrial Management Division of the Army Materiel Command, Alexandria, Virginia. He then served as the Military Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations and Logistics until 1977. He returned to Germany to serve as Commander of the 8th Infantry Division's Materiel Management Center and then as Commander, Combat Equipment Battalion, West, from 1979 to 1981, where he maintained 177 sets of unit equipment, improving the readiness rate from 80 percent to over 95 percent.
Prather returned to the United States to complete the Army War College and was assigned as Director, Material Management Directorate, US Army Communications-Electronics Command, Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, from 1982 to 1985. He then took command of Tobyhanna Army Depot, Pennsylvania, from 1985 to 1987, where he led a work force of 4,700 and managed an annual operating budget of $175 million, receiving an Army Materiel Command Excellence Award for 1986. He then returned to Germany in 1987 to be the Deputy Commander of 2d Corps Support Command, whose 10,000 personnel supported the VII Corps.
Returning to the United States in 1989, Prather assumed duties as the Deputy Commanding General for Procurement and Readiness at the US Army Armament, Munitions and Chemical Command, Rock Island, Illinois. He supervised 16 active and 11 inactive ammunition plants employing more than 20,000 personnel and manufacturing three million tons of ammunition. He next served as Commanding General of the US Troop Support Command from 1990 to 1992, where he expedited the production of uniforms and equipment critical to Operation Desert Storm.
Prather's final assignment was as Deputy Chief of Staff for Research, Development and Engineering, Army Materiel Command. His duties included planning, formulating, prioritizing, programming, and budgeting for the Army's vast research, development, and engineering program. One of the Army's premier leaders in acquisition, research, and development, Maj. Gen. Prather retired in 1995 after 33 years of dedicated service.