Famous Mormons in the Military

Including civilian NASA administrators

Web famousmormons.net


Jon Beesley  Jon Beesley was the Chief Test Pilot for Lockheed Martin in the F-35 program.  I'll include some links below.  He served as the Fort Worth Stake President.  When he retired from Lockheed, he served as a mission president in Alaska.


Lieutenant General
Bruce Carlson
USAF (active)
Gen. Bruce Carlson a four-star general serves as Commander, Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The command conducts research, development, test and evaluation, and provides acquisition management services and logistics support necessary to keep Air Force weapon systems ready for war.
James Cawley

US Marine Staff Sergeant

Click here to go to James Cawley's Famous Mormons page

Honolulu Advertiser
Lieutenant Colonel
Larry Chesley
USAF (retired)
“I am a Mormon and I believe deeply in my religion. It was one of the strengths I clung to during those dark days. I believe in a God who is like a Father, One who cares about His children. I had a patriarchal blessing when I was young (about 14) and it said that if I were ever called into war that no matter what would come or what would go, I would be returned to my loved ones. So I never doubted for a moment. I knew that I would come home someday.”

Ron Dittemore
Former Director
Space Shuttle Program
Shortly before their marriage, he and his fiancé became members of The Church. He is a high councilor in the Friendswood, Texas Stake.

Announces his resignation, 23 Apr 2003


Photo: Tracking a Tryrant, Arizona Republic, 19 Dec 2003
Harold Engstrom
U.S. Army
He grew up in Arizona and served a full-time mission to Holland and Belgium.  He graduated from Univeristy of Utah and began teaching high school English.  After September 11, 2001, he switched careers and joined the Army.  He is attached to the 104th Military Intelligence Battalion and played a pivotal role in the capture of Saddam Hussein in December 2003.  He and his partner worked for eight months reading through interrogation reports and plumbing a huge database provided by central military intelligence.  Finally, they created a four-page, 46-by-42-inch color-coded chart with 300 names on it identifying Hussein's relatives, associates and henchmen.  The chart was used to apprehend leaders of Iraqi resistance cells including Saddam himself.  His unit returned to the States in April 2004.
Source: LDS soldier helps nab Saddam by Jason Swensen, Church News, 24 Jan 2004

The corporal's blog

Two Novice Gumshoes Charted The Capture Of Saddam Hussein by Farnaz Fassihi, Wall Street Journal, 18 Dec 2003


Bernard F. Fisher
USAF (retired)
Coronel Bernard was an A-1E pilot during the Vietnam War. During a run over the A-Shau Valley 10 Mar 1966, supporting the ground based Special Forces, enemy resistance shot down his wingman, Major Wayne Myers. Without time to get aid, Major Fisher landed his plane on an all-but-destroyed airstrip, picked up his wingman, and flew him to safety. In total, nineteen bullet holes were found on his plane. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, he was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Lyndon B. Johnson, 19 Jan 1967. He is the first living US Air Force recipient of the Medal of Honor and the first USAF member to receive the medal from Vietnam.  Coronel Bernard passed away August 16th 2014

James Fletcher
NASA Administrator
He was the administrator of NASA who gained the approval to develop the Space Shuttle as the follow-on human space flight effort. He also served as NASA administrator a second time, following the loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger on 28 Jan 1986.

Biographical information from NASA


Gail Halvorsen
USAF (retired)
He was perhaps the most famous pilot of the Berlin airlift. While delivering supplies to the Templehof airport during 1948 and 1949, Halvorsen began parachuting packages of chewing gum and chocolates to Berlin children, earning him the nicknames, "Candy Bomber,"
Source: CNN

Photo by U.S. Army Cpl. Todd Pruden

Paul Holton

Chief Wiggles

Paul Holton, better known as “Chief Wiggles,” is the founder of Operation Give, a humanitarian organization that ships toys, medicine, and educational supplies to children in war-torn and devastated nations throughout the world.

President Bush recognized Chief Wiggles in 2004 saying “a guardsman from Utah named Paul Holton has described seeing an Iraqi girl crying and decided then and there to help that child and others like her. By enlisting aid through the Internet, Chief Warrant Officer Holton arranged the shipment of more than 1,600 aid packages from overseas.” 

Mormon Battalion
Jefferson Hunt
Mormon Battalion
He lead the Mormon Battalion from Council Bluffs, Iowa to San Diego, California in 1846.  In 1848, he lead a group of settlers from Salt Lake City to established a Mormon colony in San Bernardino.  In 1853, he was elected to represent San Bernardino in the state legislature where he successfully divided San Bernardino county from Los Angeles county, thus earning him the title of "father" of San Bernardino county.  In 1856 he was made brigadier general in the California militia
Sources: San Bernardino County History

Deseret News

Bill Jacobsen
U.S. Army
Recently serving in Iraq as part of the Army's 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment.  While helping to secure the city of Mosul, one of his roles was to stand a top an armored vehicle and dispense seemingly random judgments upon the military-age young men which other soldiers had rounded up.  In reality, an informant sat in the armored vehicle with live video feed identifying those who had joined the growing insurgency.  The fine line between stopping insurgents and unfairly punishing innocents is difficult to maintain when casting such wide net. 

Royal News
Lance Corporal
Jason Johnson
USMC (discharged)
He is from Long Beach, California.  He served a full-time mission in Texas. While serving with a counter-terrorism unit providing security to US citizens in Bahrain in 1999, he met and fell in love with Meriam Al-Khalifa, a distant cousin to the king of Bahrain who was expected to marry another member of the royal family.  He was court-martialed (and demoted) after smuggling her into the US in November 1999.  They appealed to the press, and she was successful in gaining political asylum and US citizenship.  They were married 16 Nov 1999.  The FBI once told him they had intercepted a man who claimed that he had been paid $500,000 to assassinate her.  He was granted an honorable "humanitarian" discharge with the provision that he not be allowed to re-enlist.  He got a job as a parking valet.  They participated in the making of a made for TV movie in 2001.  Sadly, they separated in 2003 and on 17 Nov 2004, they divorced.
Source: The Princess and the U.S. Marine By Scott Pierce, Deseret News, 11 Jan 2001, P2

Love Crosses Borders by Harold Dow, CBS, 12 Jul 2001

Photo: Deseret News
Chief Warrant Officer
Jared Kimber
U.S. Army (active)
His primary duty as part of the 82nd Medical Company in Iraq was flying a Blackhawk helicopter into combat zones, then transporting injured soldiers to safety.  One day in April 2004 he and his crew were flying north of Kirkuk.  They spotted a group of children kicking around a flattened, weathered soccer ball.  The crew returned to base and gathered up loose balls, Frisbees and other recreational equipment.  Then they flew back to the village and dropped the toys to delighted children below.  He wrote his mother in Tremonton, Utah for more toys, and the word spread.  The toy bombings have offered regular, home-front folks a chance to deliver a measure of happiness to Iraq.
Source: LDS toy bomber drops goodies to war-weary Iraqi children by Jason Swensen, Church News, 03 Jul 2004, Page Z07

Lieutenant General
James King
U.S. Army (retired)
Commander of the United States Army, Lt. General King is an acknowledged expert in developing intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and intelligence on operations concepts, architectures, requirements, and system solutions.

Space Facts
Don Lind
U.S. Naval Reserve
He was a mission specialist on STS-51B (29 Apr 1985 to 06 May 1985) and has logged over 168 hours in space. He left NASA in 1986. He is currently a professor of physics at Utah State University.

biographical data from NASA


Dr. Ellis Miner


Dr. Ellis Miner, an astronomer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 1965, has worked on missions to Saturn and six other planets. "Whenever we investigate a planet in detail," he says, "we discover answers to a lot of questions, but we inevitably raise even more new questions."

They recently gathered for a family reunion - a tough feat for a family that large, Miner joked. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, he has served in leadership roles and taught high school students at early morning seminary. Miner has also penned books on Uranus and Neptune. He served as the science manager for the Saturn-bound Cassini mission for nearly a decade and is currently a member of the Earth and Planetary Sciences Division Staff and co-director of the NASA Solar System Exploration Education and Public Outreach Forum.

 Pfc. Aaron Thomas Nemelka

         Thirteen people were killed when an Army psychiatrist allegedly opened fire on soldiers at the Fort Hood Army base, including Pfc. Aaron Thomas Nemelka. Here is a short profile:

The family of one of the victims of the Ft. Hood shooting spoke publicly Saturday, saying that Aaron Nemelka was “proud to serve his country in the military” and that “he had a deep sense of duty and responsibility.”Mr. Nemelka, a 19-year-old private first class from West Jordan, Utah, trained as a combat engineer and was slated to be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan in January.

“He was proud to follow in the footsteps of both of his grandfathers, two of his uncles, and his cousin,” said Mr. Nemelka’s father, Michael. “He felt it was his duty to stand with them in defense of our country.” WSJ Staff

Deseret News
Robert Oaks
USAF (retired)
The first LDS four-star general, he retired from the US Air Force in 1994, after serving on the Pentagon staff, as commander of the 86th Tactical Fighter Wing and later US Air Forces Europe at Ramstein AFB in Germany, and allied NATO forces in Naples, Italy, among other assignments.  He is a Vietnam veteran.  At the time of his call to be a general authority (2000), he was senior vice president of operations for US Airways.  At that time, he was president of the Pittsburgh Pennsylvania North Stake.  He has also served as mission president's counselor, Young Men president and gospel doctrine teacher.  As a Seventy, he presided over the Africa Southeast Area.  He was born in Los Angeles, California. He has six children.  In 2004, he replaced Elder Uchtdorf in the presidency of the Seventy.
Source: New authorities, LDS Church News, 09 Oct 2004, page Z23
John R. (Roger) Lasater

Air Force general (retired)

Not since Joseph Smith was lieutenant general of the Nauvoo Legion has there been a General Authority of the Church who was actually a general.  Elder John R. Lasater, sustained in April conference 1987 to the First Quorum of the Seventy, becomes the first. A retired Air Force general and F-4 fighter pilot by profession, Elder Lasater, fifty-five, has been serving as president of the New Zealand Auckland Mission. Born 8 December 1931, Elder Lasater married the former Marilyn Jones of Samaria, Idaho. They are the parents of four daughters—Mary Lynn, Leslie Ann, Melanie, and Carolyn,and a son Garth.

Lieutenant General
Brent Scowcroft
USAF (retired)
National security adviser to Presidents Gerald Ford and George Bush, Sr.

Richard A. Searfoss
USAF (retired)
He commanded a seven-person crew aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia. The space shuttle was launched on 17 Apr 1998 and after 256 orbits, landed at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on 03 May 1998. He is the first Mormon to ever command a NASA space craft.

biographical data from NASA

Walter T. Stewart
USAF (retired)
During World War II, he piloted a B-24 bomber named the "Utah Man."  He led a crew of ten men on the surprise bombing of Hitler's oil fields in Romania.  One hundred sixty planes participated in that raid, more than 50 of them did not return.  The "Utah Man" was last to return to base in Libya, with all tanks empty and the plane full of holes.  This was his 31st mission.  Only 25 missions were required at the time in order to retire from bomber duty.  He was belatedly awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in the 1990s for his participation in the mission.  It had originally been awarded to someone else by mistake, due to a paperwork mix-up.  He participated in the making of the documentary film titled "Wing and a Prayer, The Saga of Utah Man" which tells the story of this historic raid.
George Wahlen
Pharmacist's Mate Second Class
George Wahlen
US Navy
On February 26, 1945, he was wounded at Iwo Jima.  He remained on the battlefield, advancing forward of the frontlines to help a wounded Marine and carry him back to safety.  When an adjacent platoon suffered casualties, he cared for the wounded and treated 14 casualties before returning to his platoon.  Four days later, he was wounded again, but he refused evacuation.  He moved out with his company the following day rendering aid while exposed to Japanese fire.  After sustaining a third wound, he was unable to walk, but he crawled 50 yards to administer aid to another fallen fighter.  For gallantry at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

His biography, The Quiet Hero by Gary Toyn will be available 11 Nov 2005.  It features a forward by Senator Bob Dole and an introduction by Senator Orrin Hatch.  Wahlen is the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from Utah.

Paul A. Yost
USCG (retired)
18th Commandant of the U.S. Coastguard

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