President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve was one of eight outstanding Utahns honored June 11 by the Utah National Guard with its Bronze Minuteman Award.
The awards were bestowed in ceremonies at a dinner sponsored by the Honorary Colonels Corps of Utah at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City. They were presented by Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert; E. J. “Jake” Garn, a former U.S. senator from Utah who serves as the commander of the corps; and Major Gen. Jeff Burton, the adjutant general of Utah.
In recognizing President Packer, Lt. Col. Hank McIntire, program narrator, said: “No stranger to adversity, he was stricken with polio as a young boy and had to learn to walk again. With the lasting effects of that disease, his physical limitations led him to develop his creative ability and his powers of observation. He calls himself an amateur artist, but the paintings, drawings, sculptures and carvings he has created over his lifetime would rival the work of any professional.”
Lt. Col. McIntire said President Packer enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1943 and completed pilot training the following year, flying missions in the Pacific.
“He was assigned to Japan in the critical months following World War II, helping to rebuild that nation.”
He devoted his vocational life to the “noble calling of teacher,” the narrator said, “obtaining master’s and doctoral degrees while he worked full-time as an instructor and later as an administrator in the seminaries and institutes of religion” for the Church.
While serving as a General Authority in the 1960s, President Packer was assigned as an official representative of the Church to meet with U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson to request credentials for LDS military members to serve as authorized chaplains, Lt. Col. McIntire said. He added that the request was granted and President Packer considers this accomplishment among the most significant of his Church service.
“In his ministry, he has traveled throughout the world, bearing witness of Jesus Christ, lifting others with his teachings and encouraging them to love and serve one another,” the narrator said.
“The Utah National Guard is pleased to present President Boyd K. Packer the Bronze Minuteman for his spiritual guidance and leadership to the people of Utah and for his lifetime of service and support to those who wear the uniform of this great nation.”
Other award recipients at the dinner were Salt Lake Chamber president Lane Beattie; Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank; Mark and Sally Dietlein of the Hale Center Theater in West Valley City, Utah; Master Sgt. (Ret.) Mark B. Harrison; Gail Miller, who built a Utah business empire with her late husband, Larry; and, in a surprise announcement, Patti Griffith, who as executive assistant to the adjutant general organized the program but was unaware of her award before her name was announced.