Several of the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have at one time in their life answered the call to honorably serve their country in the Armed Forces. Of the current First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church, 10 have served on active duty or in a reserve duty status. Among those who have served is President Thomas S. Monson, whom Latter-day Saints (commonly referred to as Mormons) love and revere as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator.

thomas-monson-navy-mormonPresident Monson served in the United States Navy during World War II. Of that experience he recalls:

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. [1]

President Monson also recalls some of the important life lessons that he learned while serving in the Navy. One of those lessons was the courage to stand alone. In a Mormon Message video appropriately titled “Dare to Stand Alone” he recounts an incident that really helped him to fully understand the importance of this principle.

Of that incident President Monson has said:

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. [1]

He was ordained an elder in The LDS Church one week prior to leaving for active duty. He would soon learn another important life lesson that would involve using the Priesthood authority which he now had. That lesson was to always be willing to help to heal. He recalls:

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. [1]

Of the experience President Monson commented, “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.” [1]

Another important life lesson that he learned while serving in the Navy was the importance of being honest.He tells of a particular day where an officer had made the announcement that everyone who knew how to swim would be put on a bus and taken to San Diego for the day. Those who did not know how to swim were to stay behind for a full day of swimming lessons. He had learned how to swim as a boy and could do so quite well, so he got in line to go on the bus to San Diego. Instead of going to their destination they were taken to a gym and were ordered to jump in the deep end of the pool. He and most of his fellow shipmates did as ordered, but there were about 10 who did not know how to swim that were pushed into the water and allowed to go under twice before being pulled out. President Monson remarked, “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.” [1]

By Keith Brown

About Keith L. Brown
Keith L. Brown is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having been born and raised Baptist. He was studying to be a Baptist minister at the time of his conversion to the LDS faith. He was baptized on 10 March 1998 in Reykjavik, Iceland while serving on active duty in the United States Navy in Keflavic, Iceland. He currently serves as the First Assistant to the High Priest Group for the Annapolis, Maryland Ward. He is a 30-year honorably retired United States Navy Veteran.

Copyright © 2024 Thomas Monson. All Rights Reserved.
This website is not owned by or affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called the Mormon or LDS Church). The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the position of the Church. The views expressed by individual users are the responsibility of those users and do not necessarily represent the position of the Church. For the official Church websites, please visit or

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share This

Share this post with your friends!