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Thunder's real name is Matthew Harris Breckinridge, and his rank is that of sergeant E-5. Thunder was born in Louisville, Kentucky.
Thunder was originally the driver for the "Slugger", a self-propelled gun, and his primary military specialty is artillery. His secondary military specialty is bandsman (drummer). Thunder has a fondness for loud noises; he grew up next to a foundry, and has a passion for heavy metal music, peanut brittle, and even cars with bad mufflers.
He first appeared in the Sunbow G.I. Joe cartoon in the 'Revenge of Cobra' mini-series. According to the cartoon writer's guide, Thunder was intended to develop a romantic relationship with Cover Girl.
In the episode "Battle for the Train of Gold", Thunder's friendship with a Kentucky horse farmer is essential to the plot.
In the episode "Captives Of Cobra Part 1" Thunder has to deal with his brainwashed parents and sister trying to kill him. This is part of a plot that involves the relatives of Joe Team members being brainwashed.