John R. Lasater

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Lasater delivering "Shepherds of Israel" at April 1988 General Conference

John R. Lasater was a retired brigadier general and F-4 fighter pilot in the United States Air Force and a former general authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which he was a member. He was the first retired Air Force general to serve as a general authority.

Lasater was born on December 8, 1931, in Farmington, Utah. He was reared in the Ogden, Utah, area and attended Brigham Young University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Omaha, Nebraska, and his master’s degree from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

He enlisted in the U. S. Air Force in March 1952, and in March 1957, he received his commission as a second lieutenant through the Air Force Officers’ Candidate School at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. His first operational flying assignment was with the 93rd Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. In July 1960 he joined the 751st Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron at Mount Laguna Air Force Station, California, where he remained until December 1961. Lasater began service in Southeast Asia in May 1967 where he flew RF-4C’s with the 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Republic of Vietnam. In 1966, he completed Squadron Officer School and then graduated in 1974 from Fort Lesley J. McNair, the National War College in Washington, D.C.

Lasater also served as a special assistant for joint matters and chairman of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Initiatives and Action Group in the Directorate of Plans and Policy in Washington, D.C. He also served as chief of the Europe/North Atlantic Treaty Organization Division within the directorate. In April 1976, he was assigned as executive assistant to the deputy commander in chief, U.S. European Command, Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany.

From June 1978 to June 1979, he served as commander of the Strategic Air Command’s 4th Air Division at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming. In addition to the 90th Strategic Missile Wing at Warren, the division included the 44th Strategic Missile Wing, the 28th Bombardment Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, and the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. Lasater returned to Washington, D.C., as the senior military adviser to the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency of the State Department. He was also the acting U.S. Commissioner to the 19th and 20th U.S. and Union of Soviet Socialists Republics Standing Consultative commissions. In November 1981, he became deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and North Atlantic Treaty Organization policy, and the principal director for European and North Atlantic Treaty Organization policy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy. He was responsible for the development of defense policy pertaining to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance and European nations, and he advised the secretary on matters of arms cooperation and arms control negotiations in Europe. He was promoted to brigadier general November 1, 1978, and retired with the rank of brigadier general in 1983. During his career, he received many awards, including the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross, and fifteen Air Medals.

In an interview with the Church News, Lasater said, "I enjoyed my military career, but I felt there was something else I should be doing so I voluntarily retired."[1] After he retired from the Air Force, he served as president of the New Zealand Auckland Mission. He was called to serve in the First Quorum of the Seventy on April 4, 1987, and was moved to the Second Quorum of the Seventy on April 1, 1989. He was released on October 3, 1992.

Lasater and his wife, Marilyn, were the parents of four daughters and one son. He died on June 14, 2017.