10 Prophets and Apostles Who've Served in the Military (+ Their Incredible Stories)

We thank all the brave men and women who have served in militaries around the world to protect their countries.

General authorities of the Church have a rich tradition of serving in the military. Here are stories and testimonies from several recent prophets and apostles who have served in the armed forces. Click on each name to read the lessons they learned from their service in their own words, see photos of their younger selves, and watch videos about their experiences.

President Thomas S. Monson: Navy, WWII

President Henry B. Eyring: Air Force

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: German Air Force

President Boyd K. Packer: Air Force, WWII

Elder L. Tom Perry: Marines, WWII

Elder Russell M. Nelson: Army, Korean War

Elder Dallin H. Oaks: National Guard

Elder M. Russell Ballard: Army

Elder Richard G. Scott: not formally enlisted, but worked on military nuclear power reactors

Elder Robert D. Hales: Air Force, Korean War

President Thomas S. Monson: Navy, WWII

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Thomas S. Monson, from thomassmonson.org.

Dare to Stand Alone

“I believe my first experience in having the courage of my convictions took place when I served in the United States Navy near the end of World War II.

“Navy boot camp was not an easy experience for me, nor for anyone who endured it. For the first three weeks I was convinced my life was in jeopardy. The navy wasn’t trying to train me; it was trying to kill me.

“I shall ever remember when Sunday rolled around after the first week. We received welcome news from the chief petty officer. Standing at attention on the drill ground in a brisk California breeze, we heard his command: ‘Today everybody goes to church—everybody, that is, except for me. I am going to relax!’ Then he shouted, ‘All of you Catholics, you meet in Camp Decatur—and don’t come back until three o’clock. Forward, march!’ A rather sizeable contingent moved out. Then he barked out his next command, ‘Those of you who are Jewish, you meet in Camp Henry—and don’t come back until three o’clock. Forward, march!’ A somewhat smaller contingent marched out. Then he said, ‘The rest of you Protestants, you meet in the theaters at Camp Farragut—and don’t come back until three o’clock. Forward, march!’

“Instantly there flashed through my mind the thought, ‘Monson, you are not a Catholic; you are not a Jew; you are not a Protestant. You are a Mormon, so you just stand here!’ I can assure you that I felt completely alone. Courageous and determined, yes—but alone.

“And then I heard the sweetest words I ever heard that chief petty officer utter. He looked in my direction and asked, ‘And just what do you guys call yourselves?’ Until that very moment I had not realized that anyone was standing beside me or behind me on the drill ground. Almost in unison, each of us replied, ‘Mormons!’ It is difficult to describe the joy that filled my heart as I turned around and saw a handful of other sailors.

“The chief petty officer scratched his head in an expression of puzzlement but finally said, ‘Well, go find somewhere to meet. And don’t come back until three o’clock. Forward, march!’

“As we marched away, I thought of the words of a rhyme I had learned in Primary years before:

Dare to be a Mormon;
Dare to stand alone.
Dare to have a purpose firm;
Dare to make it known.

“Since that day there have been times when there was no one standing behind me and so I did stand alone. How grateful I am that I made the decision long ago to remain strong and true, always prepared and ready to defend my religion, should the need arise.”

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Help to Heal

During World War II, I was ordained an elder—one week before I departed for active duty with the navy. A member of my bishopric was at the train station to bid me farewell. Just before train time, he placed in my hand a book: The Missionary’s Hand Book. I laughed and commented, “I’ll be in the navy—not on a mission.” He answered, “Take it anyway. It may come in handy.”

It did. During basic training our company commander instructed us how we might best pack our clothing in a large seabag. He then advised, “If you have a hard, rectangular object you can place in the bottom of the bag, your clothes will stay more firm.” I thought, “Where am I going to find a hard, rectangular object?” Suddenly I remembered The Missionary’s Hand Book. And thus it served for 12 weeks at the bottom of that seabag.

The night preceding our Christmas leave, the barracks were quiet. Suddenly I became aware that my buddy in the adjoining bunk—a member of the Church, Leland Merrill—was moaning in pain. I asked, “What’s the matter, Merrill?”

He replied, “I’m sick. I’m really sick.”

The hours lengthened; his groans grew louder. Then, in desperation, he whispered, “Monson, aren’t you an elder?” I acknowledged this to be so, whereupon he pleaded, “Give me a blessing.”

I became very much aware that I had never given a blessing. My prayer to God was a plea for help. The answer came: “Look in the bottom of the seabag.” Thus, at 2:00 a.m. I emptied the bag. I then took to the night-light The Missionary’s Hand Book and read how one blesses the sick. With about 120 curious sailors looking on, I proceeded with the blessing. Before I could again stow my gear, Leland Merrill was sleeping.

The next morning, Merrill smilingly turned to me and said, “Monson, I’m glad you hold the priesthood!” His gladness was only surpassed by mygratitude—gratitude not only for the priesthood but for being worthy to receive the help I required in a time of desperate need.

If we are on the Lord’s errand, we are entitled to the Lord’s help. His help has come to me on countless occasions throughout my life.

The Importance of Honesty

I was in the Navy at the end of World War II when I was a very young man. My training took place near San Diego, California. Everyone in the Navy had to know how to swim, or they wouldn’t let him out of boot camp (training camp). I had learned to swim as a boy and could do it quite well.

One day an officer said, “All of you who can swim get to go to San Diego for the day. Those who can’t must have a full day of swimming lessons. So those of you who can swim, line up over here, and we’ll put you on a bus and take you into town.” I lined up with the swimmers—there were about 30 or 40 of us. But instead of having my group get on a bus, the officer marched us into the gym, where the swimming pool was.

I thought, You’re mixed up, fellow. We’re the ones who can swim. But, of course, I said nothing. We prepared for swimming and were ordered to jump into the deep end of the pool.

Most of us obeyed, but about 10 men in our group didn’t know how to swim. They had thought that they could go to San Diego without measuring up. The officer didn’t let them just stand there—he pushed them into the water. He let them go under the water, come up gasping for air, and then go down again. When they came up for the second time, a big bamboo pole was held out to them, and they were pulled to safety. Then the officer said sternly, “Don’t you ever lie to me again!” I tell you, I was glad I hadn’t tried that! The experience taught me the value of being honest and true to yourself at all times.

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President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: German Air Force

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Dieter F. Uchtdorf, from LDS Church News.

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Dieter F. Uchtdorf while training with the U.S. Air Force, from lds.org.

We Are Not Forgotten

Many years ago I attended pilot training in the United States Air Force. I was far away from my home, a young West German soldier, born in Czechoslovakia, who had grown up in East Germany and spoke English only with great difficulty. I clearly remember my journey to our training base in Texas. I was on a plane, sitting next to a passenger who spoke with a heavy Southern accent. I could scarcely understand a word he said. I actually wondered if I had been taught the wrong language all along. I was terrified by the thought that I had to compete for the coveted top spots in pilot training against students who were native English speakers.

When I arrived on the air base in the small town of Big Spring, Texas, I looked for and found the Latter-day Saint branch, which consisted of a handful of wonderful members who were meeting in rented rooms on the air base itself. The members were in the process of building a small meetinghouse that would serve as a permanent place for the Church. Back in those days members provided much of the labor on new buildings.

Day after day I attended my pilot training and studied as hard as I could and then spent most of my spare time working on the new meetinghouse. There I learned that a two-by-four is not a dance step but a piece of wood. I also learned the important survival skill of missing my thumb when pounding a nail.

I spent so much time working on the meetinghouse that the branch president—who also happened to be one of our flight instructors—expressed concern that I perhaps should spend more time studying.

My friends and fellow student pilots engaged themselves in free-time activities as well, although I think it’s safe to say that some of those activities would not have been in alignment with today’s For the Strength of Youth pamphlet. For my part, I enjoyed being an active part of this tiny west Texas branch, practicing my newly acquired carpentry skills, and improving my English as I fulfilled my callings to teach in the elders quorum and in Sunday School.

At the time, Big Spring, despite its name, was a small, insignificant, and unknown place. And I often felt exactly the same way about myself—insignificant, unknown, and quite alone. Even so, I never once wondered if the Lord had forgotten me or if He would ever be able to find me there. I knew that it didn’t matter to Heavenly Father where I was, where I ranked with others in my pilot training class, or what my calling in the Church was. What mattered to Him was that I was doing the best I could, that my heart was inclined toward Him, and that I was willing to help those around me. I knew if I did the best I could, all would be well.

And all was well. [Editor's note: President Uchtdorf graduated first in his class.]

See the End from the Beginning

Allow me to share with you an experience from my own boyhood. When I was 11 years old, my family had to leave East Germany and begin a new life in West Germany overnight. Until my father could get back into his original profession as a government employee, my parents operated a small laundry business in our little town. I became the laundry delivery boy. To be able to do that effectively, I needed a bicycle to pull the heavy laundry cart. I had always dreamed of owning a nice, sleek, shiny, sporty red bicycle. But there had never been enough money to fulfill this dream. What I got instead was a heavy, ugly, black, sturdy workhorse of a bicycle. I delivered laundry on that bike before and after school for quite a few years. Most of the time, I was not overly excited about the bike, the cart, or my job. Sometimes the cart seemed so heavy and the work so tiring that I thought my lungs would burst, and I often had to stop to catch my breath. Nevertheless, I did my part because I knew we desperately needed the income as a family, and it was my way to contribute.

If I had only known back then what I learned many years later—if I had only been able to see the end from the beginning—I would have had a better appreciation of these experiences, and it would have made my job so much easier.

Many years later, when I was about to be drafted into the military, I decided to volunteer instead and join the Air Force to become a pilot. I loved flying and thought being a pilot would be my thing.

To be accepted for the program I had to pass a number of tests, including a strict physical exam. The doctors were slightly concerned by the results and did some additional medical tests. Then they announced, “You have scars on your lung which are an indication of a lung disease in your early teenage years, but obviously you are fine now.” The doctors wondered what kind of treatment I had gone through to heal the disease. Until the day of that examination I had never known that I had any kind of lung disease. Then it became clear to me that my regular exercise in fresh air as a laundry boy had been a key factor in my healing from this illness. Without the extra effort of pedaling that heavy bicycle day in and day out, pulling the laundry cart up and down the streets of our town, I might never have become a jet fighter pilot and later a 747 airline captain.

We don’t always know the details of our future. We do not know what lies ahead. We live in a time of uncertainty. We are surrounded by challenges on all sides. Occasionally discouragement may sneak into our day; frustration may invite itself into our thinking; doubt might enter about the value of our work. In these dark moments Satan whispers in our ears that we will never be able to succeed, that the price isn’t worth the effort, and that our small part will never make a difference. He, the father of all lies, will try to prevent us from seeing the end from the beginning.

Fortunately, you young priesthood holders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are taught by prophets, seers, and revelators of our day. The First Presidency said: “We have great confidence in you. You are choice spirits. … You are at the beginning of your journey through this mortal life. Your Heavenly Father wants your life to be joyful and to lead you back into His presence. The decisions you make now will determine much of what will follow during your life and throughout eternity” (For the Strength of Youth, 2001, 2). “You have a responsibility to learn what Heavenly Father wants you to do and then to do your best to follow His will” (Aaronic Priesthood: Fulfilling Our Duty to God, 2001, 4).

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President Boyd K. Packer: Air Force, WWII

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Boyd K. Packer, Courtesy of the Saints at War Project.

Entering the Service

I was a priest in the Aaronic Priesthood when World War II exploded upon the world. I was ordained an elder when we were all marched away to war.

I had dreams of following an older brother, Leon, who at that time was flying B-24 bombers in the Battle of Britain. I volunteered for air force pilot training.

I failed the written test by one point. Then the sergeant remembered that there were several two-point questions, and if I got half right on two of them, I could pass.

Part of the test was multiple choice. One question was “What is ethylene glycol used for?” If I had not worked in my dad’s service station, I would not have known that it is used for automobile antifreeze. And so I passed, barely.

Protection in Enemy Territory

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Things Known Brought Back to Remembrance

I had an experience from which I learned a very important lesson that I should have learned earlier. I relived this experience last week when we were in Japan and concluded that I would talk about it in conference.

During World War II, I was a pilot in the Air Force. After service in the Pacific Islands, I spent a year in Japan with the occupational forces. It was, of course, advisable to learn a few words of Japanese. We needed at least to be able to ask directions, ask for something to eat.

I learned the common greetings and a few of the numbers and the salutations, and like many other members of the Church, I spent all my off-duty hours in missionary work among the Japanese people; and I learned from them those few words of what I thought was a very difficult language.

In July of 1946 the first baptisms took place in Osaka. Brother and Sister Tatsui Sato were baptized. And while they had been taught for the most part by others, I was privileged to baptize Sister Sato.

Though we were not unhappy in Japan, there was really only one thing on our minds, and that was home! I had been away for nearly four years. The war was over, and I wanted to go home.

When that day finally arrived, I supposed never to return to Japan, and I just closed that chapter.

The next years saw me busy getting an education, raising a family. I was not around Japanese people and had no occasion to use those few words that I had learned. They were left in the dim and very distant past, erased by 26 years of forgetting—gone, as I thought, forever. Then came an assignment to Japan.

The morning after my arrival in Tokyo, I was leaving the mission home with President Abo when a Japanese elder spoke to him in Japanese. President Abo said that the matter was urgent and apologized for the delay.

He went through some papers with the elder, discussing them in Japanese. Then he held up one of the letters and, pointing to a sentence, he said, “Korewa …”

And before he could complete the sentence I had completed it in my mind. Korewa nan desuka. I knew what he was saying. I knew what he was asking the elder. Korewa nan desuka means “What is this?” After 26 years, having been back in Japan but overnight, a sentence had come back into my mind—Korewa nan desuka, “What is this?”

I had not used those words in 26 years. I had thought that I should never use them again. But they were not lost.

I have thought that a most important experience and realized finally that nothing good is ever lost. Once I got back among the people who spoke the language, all that I possessed came back and it came back very quickly. And I found it easier then to add a few more words to my vocabulary.

If you will return to the environment where spiritual truths are spoken, there will flood back into your minds the things that you thought were lost. Things smothered under many years of disuse and inactivity will emerge. Your ability to understand them will be quickened.

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Elder L. Tom Perry: Marines, WWII

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L. Tom Perry, Courtesy of the Saints at War Project.

Thy Speech Reveals Thee

Today, probably more than in any other period of history, we find more profanity and vulgarity being used. I had a particular experience in my life that showed me how using the wrong word can shock those who do not expect such an utterance to come from you. I was in boot camp in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. Of course, the language among my fellow Marines was not of the caliber that you would want to repeat. Being a recently returned missionary, I determined I should keep my language above the level they were using. I tried consistently to keep from saying even the simplest and most common of swear words.

One day we were on the rifle range firing for our final qualification scores. I had done well in the 100-, 200-, and 300-yard positions. Now we were back at the 500-yard position. All I needed was a reasonable score—just hitting the target without even having to hit the bull’s-eye—and I would make Expert Rifleman. We had been charged up with the desire to excel and be the top platoon in firing for qualifications. I tensed up at the 500-yard standing position and on my first shot threw my shoulder into the rifle. Of course, the flag waved—I had missed the target. And likewise I missed the opportunity of being named Expert Rifleman.

Out of my mouth came a little four-letter word that I had determined never to use. Much to my shock and chagrin, suddenly the whole range stopped firing and everyone turned and looked at me with their mouths open. Any other Marine firing from that position that day could have used the word I used without anyone paying attention. But because I had determined that I would carry the standards of the mission field into the Marine Corps, everyone was shocked when I forgot myself.

The Savior Himself instructed us concerning the use of our speech. He said, “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man” (Matthew 15:11).

The Sacrament: All We Held Dear

As I entered the mission field, I was blessed to be assigned to a very special senior companion. We had the privilege of laboring together for almost a year before a transfer occurred. With World War II raging, we knew at the end of our missions we would soon be called into military service. We both agreed that when we returned home we would try to enlist in the navy and hope that somehow our paths might cross as we served. Much to our surprise, on the first Sunday as marines, we ran into each other at a Church service. Both of us had volunteered for the Marine Corps!

When we completed our boot camp, we were both assigned to the Second Marine Division and were blessed to have our companionship last nearly three more years. After the battle was over on the island to which our division was assigned, we were able to obtain a tent for our Church services. We made benches, a pulpit, and a sacrament table out of any piece of lumber we could find. Under the sacrament table we placed that special green footlocker. The footlocker was carried from island to island as the Second Marine Division completed its orders. The contents included a wooden plate, a wooden sacrament tray, a card containing the sacrament prayers, and several boxes of small paper cups.

When the battle was over and the island secured, many of the veterans in our division were rotated back home, including our Church leadership. My missionary companion was sustained as our group leader, and I was called to be his first assistant.

The contents of the green footlocker represented all we held dear. As we gathered each week on the Lord’s day, opened our footlocker, and used the contents to prepare, bless, and pass the sacrament, it was a spiritual and uplifting experience that renewed our faith and gave us hope for the days ahead. That special hour together each week removed us from the trials and hardships of everyday life.

Even though the island had been secured, air raids continued. Soon our tent chapel was filled with many holes caused by shrapnel tearing through it. Because of the frequent tropical rains, it was uncomfortable to sit in a tent with so many holes in it. We determined that our meetings deserved better quarters, and through the efforts of the members of the Church from the marines, the army, the navy, and the air corps we were able to obtain enough material to construct our own chapel on the island. Now the green footlocker was placed beneath the table in a dedicated building where we could meet and worship together.

When our duties on the island were complete, we boarded a ship and moved on to another assignment. Our green footlocker remained in the chapel for others to use. I don’t know its final destination, but I will always fondly remember that green footlocker.

Our Father in Heaven understood the need for his children to be reminded of the promises He has made to us if we would obey his laws. In making such covenants, the Lord offered blessings in exchange for obedience to particular commandments. A plan was laid out for us from the very beginning. The central figure in his plan of salvation is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His atoning sacrifice for all mankind is the centerpiece of the history of our Father in Heaven’s children here on earth. Each of us who accepts the divine plan must accept the role of our Savior and covenant to keep his laws that our Father has developed for us. As we accept Christ in spirit and in deed, we may win our salvation. We read in the scriptures: “Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore” (Moses 5:8).

Don't Leave Your Decisions to Chance

I remember one time when I was in the Marine Corps, stationed at Camp Pendleton in California. I left a decision to chance and almost found myself in a most unpleasant situation.

My buddies had been after me each weekend to go with them into the dance hall in Los Angeles to have a good time. Each weekend I was encouraged to go. After several weeks of turning them down, thinking that that was no place for me, I decided just once to leave it to chance and see how it would turn out.

I started with them towards this big dance hall in Los Angeles. We were riding the streetcar, and as it progressed from stop to stop, it was filling up with many young ladies. They were not the type I had ever been around before. They were extremely forward. I felt very uncomfortable around them. As they approached me, I adopted a tactic completely unknown to a marine. I retreated.

On the back row of the streetcar I found four young ladies whose appearance was entirely different. I asked them if they were going to the dance, and their reply was, “Yes, but not to the same one you are.” Then they said, “We are going to the Adams Ward to a Mormon dance. What do you know about the Mormon Church?” I was surprised, relieved, and willingly got off the streetcar with them, and had a most delightful evening at the Adams Ward. Have more confidence in yourself than allowing your decisions to happen just by chance.

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Russell M. Nelson: Army, Korean War

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Russell M. Nelson, Courtesy of the Saints at War Project.

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Elder Dallin H. Oaks: National Guard

The Language of Prayer

When I was seventeen, I joined the Utah National Guard. There I learned that a soldier must use certain words in speaking to an officer. I saw this as another mark of respect for authority. I also observed that this special language served as a way of reminding both the soldier and the officer of the responsibilities of their positions. I later understood that same reasoning as explaining why full-time missionaries should always be called by the dignified titles of elder or sister, or the equivalent in other languages.

The words we use in speaking to someone can identify the nature of our relationship to that person. They can also remind speaker and listener of the responsibilities they owe one another in that relationship. The form of address can also serve as a mark of respect or affection.

So it is with the language of prayer. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches its members to use special language in addressing prayers to our Father in Heaven.

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Elder Richard G. Scott: Nuclear Enginner for the Navy

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Richard G. Scott, Courtesy of the Saints at War Project.

Do What Is Right--Even If It Means Being a Traitor

After I graduated from college, served a mission, and got married, my wife and I moved to the eastern United States, where I found a job. Through a series of what I now see as unusual experiences, I was interviewed to have a job as an engineer in a new and exciting activity: the design and development of nuclear power plants for submarines. As I look back, it should have been virtually impossible for me to get that job. There were more experienced people applying for it. It just worked out that the Lord helped me.

That shows us that the Lord will bless our lives if we follow His promptings and do what the prophets say. We must exercise courage and faith and choose the right, even though many around us are not.

After 11 exciting years of working at that job, I was in a meeting one night with those developing an essential part of the nuclear power plant. My secretary came in and said, “There’s a man on the phone who says if I tell you his name you’ll come to the phone.”

I said, “What’s his name?”

She said, “Harold B. Lee.”

I said, “He’s right.” I took the phone call. Elder Lee, who later became President of the Church, asked if he could see me that very night. He was in New York City, and I was in Washington, D.C. I flew up to meet him, and we had an interview that led to my call to be a mission president.

The head of the program I was working for was Admiral Hyman Rickover, a hard-working, demanding individual. I knew him well enough that I felt I needed to tell him as soon as possible that I was being called. As I explained the mission call to him and that it would mean I would have to quit my job, he became rather upset. He said some unrepeatable things, broke the paper tray on his desk, and in the comments that followed clearly established two points:

“Scott, what you are doing in this defense program is so vital that it will take a year to replace you, so you can’t go. Second, if you do go, you are a traitor to your country.”

I said, “I can train my replacement in the two remaining months, and there won’t be any risk to the country.”

There was more conversation, and he finally said, “I never will talk to you again. I don’t want to see you again. You are finished, not only here, but don’t ever plan to work in the nuclear field again.”

I responded, “Admiral, you can bar me from the office, but unless you prevent me, I am going to turn this assignment over to another individual.”

True to his word, the admiral ceased to speak to me. When critical decisions had to be made, he would send a messenger, or I would communicate through a third party. He assigned an individual to take my responsibility, and I trained him.

It wasn’t going to be hard for me to leave; I knew I had been called as a mission president by the Lord. But I knew that my decision would affect others. In the Idaho Falls, Idaho, area were many members of the Church whose jobs depended upon working in the nuclear program. I didn’t want to cause them harm. I didn’t know what to do. My heart kept saying, “Is this going to turn out all right, or will somebody be innocently hurt who depends on our program for livelihood?”

As I prayed and pondered about it, I had a feeling about the hymn “Do What Is Right.” A line from the hymn would come to mind: “Do what is right; let the consequence follow.” Other words from the hymn were reinforcing such as “God will protect you; then do what is right!” (Hymns, no. 237).

My last day in the office I asked for an appointment with the admiral. His secretary gasped. I went with a copy of the Book of Mormon in my hand. He looked at me and said, “Sit down, Scott, what do you have? I have tried every way I can to force you to change. What is it you have?” There followed a very interesting, quiet conversation. There was more listening this time.

He said he would read the Book of Mormon. Then something happened I never thought would occur. He added, “When you come back from the mission, I want you to call me. There will be a job for you.”

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Elder Robert D. Hales: Air Force, Korean War

Return With Honor

Each unit in the 31st Fighter Bomber Squadron had a motto to inspire their efforts. Our motto, “Return with Honor,” graced the side of our fighter aircraft. “Return with Honor” was a constant reminder to us of our determination to return to our home base with honor only after having expended all of our efforts to successfully complete every aspect of our mission.

We realized that this motto applied to all members of the flight. It did not just apply to us as individuals. We flew jet fighter planes in a fingertip formation. For a moment, fold your thumb under your hand and look at the back of your hand with your fingers extended. You will see a flight of four planes with a leader and three wingmen. You are protected on the left and on the right, and the leader is concentrating on his goals. If for a moment you will separate and put two fingers on either side, you will still see a leader and a wingman, one plane ahead of the other, and one plane on the wing to protect. We all knew and were taught from bitter experience that a “loner” out of formation was unprotected and would surely be destroyed.

Avoiding Spiritual Vertigo

In an airplane, the attitude indicator is a useful instrument. It gives us our continuous and accurate relationship to the horizon. Paying close attention assures us that we are flying straight and level and on course. It lets us know if we are banking or straying off course, even a degree at a time, or if we are climbing or diving toward an obstacle. It even tells us if we are completely upside down.

In life, we have to be careful to monitor our personal attitude. Are we positive, loyal, and trustworthy in all that we do? Don’t be negative. Strengthen and lift those around you. Do not let them pull you down.

I was taught about vertigo when my Air Force instructor took me up in an airplane with the cockpit covered by a canopy so I could not see outside and would have to rely on the instruments. Unknown to me, he gradually turned the airplane upside down, keeping positive G forces. My ear did not detect the slow rollover. He told me to take control of the airplane. Of course, I did what every other student did. I pulled backwards because I was losing altitude, and, of course, I started a dive toward the earth because I did not know I was upside down.

As I started to regain control of the airplane, I could see that the little marks on the landing gear were upside down. My instructor taught me the principle that you can take a human being at a two- or three-degree turn while keeping positive G forces and turn them upside down without them knowing that they have left the straight and level flight. The motion is imperceptible.

If we are not careful, we can experience spiritual vertigo. If we stray off the course of obedience by only two or three almost imperceptible degrees, we can become disoriented and lose sight of our eternal destination, not even realizing how far off course we are. We will then make poor choices. Just as my airplane left straight and level flight degree by degree, if we stray from the straight and narrow path even degree by degree, we can become confused and lose sight of our eternal goal.

Our Savior does not want us to crash. His desire is for us to choose the right course that will bring us back on the straight and narrow path to live with Him eternally. “Come, follow me,” He has told us (Luke 18:22). He provides the light that will keep us on course and bring us back into His presence. If we prepare ourselves to have preconditioned responses, we can devote all of our time to productive things and not worry about making big adjustments to place ourselves back on the straight and narrow path.

Instrument flying conditions require a complete trust in the instruments. Similarly, if we are obedient and listen to the Holy Ghost, we will recognize the warnings we receive in our own lives. If ignored, the price we pay will block our eternal progress, and we may not be able to return with honor.

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