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2 Missionary Deaths


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It is indeed an incredibly tragic story. Unfortunately, it has also served as an excuse for bigots to crawl out of the woodwork to spew hate. When questions were raised about whether it was merely an accident or if the missionaries were deliberately targeted, I commented that all the evidence suggested that the accident was not intentional. I ended with a caveat that missionaries are often the targets of items being thrown out of car windows, a practice I experienced and witnesses several times during my own service in Texas. Another poster agreed and shared his own experience, which prompted this reply from a particularly vocal fundamentalist Protestant anti-Mormon:

Missionary war stories...how positively exciting. Do you have any military stories from service to your country? Oh, that's right, the vast majority of your kind avoid that dangerous stuff and still have the stones to fly the US flag...Watch those frostys...they can hurt. Oh, I am not your friend, freeloader!

This was my response:

Unfortunately, I'm not eligible for military service. I am forever indebted to the millions of men and women of various faiths who fight to preserve the freedom of religion in this country. I never once attempted to compare what I went through as a missionary to what the men and women of our military have done in the line of combat. I simply shared a story that was relevant to the discussion - namely that riding a bicycle as a missionary can carry risks. I did not deny that those of other faiths experience similar acts of disrespect, and I certainly don't condone targeting any person on a bicycle.

As for your comment as to Latter-day Saints "avoiding" military service, I found it a rather hasty and wildly inaccurate generalization. My father-in-law graduated from West Point '77 without serving a mission and now he's a Stake President. I am aware of literally hundreds returned missionaries actively participating in ROTC programs around the country. I'm also aware of at least three LDS Medal of Honor Recipients off the top of my head. What about Brady Howell, the Sugar City native and returned missionary who died when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11? And do you remember living in eastern Idaho in June of 2005 when Marine Lance Cpl. Dustin Birch of Saint Anthony (himself a returned missionary) paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country in Iraq? What about Marine Sgt. Rocky Payne who died in March of that year? Clint Ferrin? Devin Grella? Eric Sieger? Gregson Gourley? Joseph deMoors? Nathan Barnes? Nathan Dalley? James Shull? Jacob Allcott? Stephen Bertolino? Michael Alleman? Damon LeGrand? Lex Nelson? James Moudy? William Jacobsen? James Cawley? Rowan Walter? Jesse Blamires? William Newman? Jamie Campbell? Jason Workman? Julio Vargas? Cory Jenkins? Ainsworth Dyer? Dale Griffin?

All LDS servicemen.

All paid the ultimate sacrifice in the War on Terror that still allows you to practice your First Amendment rights to say whatever you will, however ignorant it may be.

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Thank you for speaking up.

My dad and his only brother both served, I have a number of cousins and in-laws...male and female, who have chosen to serve. In the little Utah town I currently live in we have an unfortunately decent sized memorial in the city center park for those who have given their lives and I have visit taught and know many neighbors who have and have had family members in the services. Know quite a few who have chosen to serve in the law enforcement, fire and rescue and other life threatening jobs that protect others without even close to a decent financial compensation for their efforts on others' behalf.

I would find it interesting to see what the rate of enlistment is for LDS after one adjusts for economic and education factors.

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BYU has some of the largest, per capita, Army and air Force ROTC programs in the country.

Back in the 60s, when I was incarcerated in the Salt Lake City West High School (for no crime other than to have been 15 years old), Jr Army ROTC was mandatory for all Sophomores.

When I served, 1973~'95, there were consistently more than 2% of the soldiers I knew who were LDS. Two percent is the upper reach of the range for Saints as a proportion of the USmerican population. I believe, since we have more, per capita, college graduates than the rest of the USmerican populace, I recall that more of us were officers than enlisted than we should expect. I enlisted, and then went to Officer Candidate School and got my commission by that path.

It was very funny when one of the trainers in OCS was talking about our (future) obligation to accommodate various religious practices made a comment to the effect that you don't have to do much for the Mormons because they're all pacifists, and aren't in the Army. Along with me that day, there were at least two other Saints in my platoon, and six in the company. We chose not to make a scene that day, but we wrote a letter to the commandant asking him to correct the Chaplain's Assistant who taught that "lesson".


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It is only a tragedy if they went to God unprepared. Otherwise, it is a cause for rejoicing. Or do we not believe that God numbers our days anymore?

we do, but we don't know if they went to God prepared or not, but getting killed is still unpleasant

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It is only a tragedy if they went to God unprepared. Otherwise, it is a cause for rejoicing. Or do we not believe that God numbers our days anymore?

It's a tragedy for their loved ones, regardless of God being in charge. I don't know that rejoicing when their families are suffering is appropriate, though i do understnad what you are saying.

I do believe though that it's appropriate to mourn with those that mourn, even if their sorrow is only temporary.

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