SALT LAKE CITY -- Two brothers faced a hard decision between their military career and their religious convictions when they decided to serve missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints despite the possibility doing so might mean they wouldn't be able to continue at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Jonsen and Connor Crandall are brothers. Both are wrestling state champions, and they both speak Mandarin Chinese. But there's much more these two have in common.
The Crandall brothers served missions for the LDS Church, and now they're students at the U.S Air Force Academy.
But after beginning their coursework and training in Colorado Springs, both decided to leave to serve LDS missions.
Connor Crandall said: “They said, ‘It’s a risk. You have no guarantee of getting back in.’ But I just went forward with faith and knew things would get taken care of if they needed to.”
When Connor got back home from his mission in New Zealand, he reapplied to the academy and was readmitted.
For Jonsen it was a different story.
“I left with not the greatest GPA, and I was told up front, basically, ‘If you leave there's a very good chance you're not going to get back in, or at least the first time you apply to get back in’ ...and so, you know, I kind of knew the risk leaving beforehand."
But he says his decision was based on priorities in his life..
“From the time I was little, I always planned on serving an LDS mission,” he said. “We were just raised, our parents taught us well in our religion and it was something that I always wanted to do, and, you know, it's kind of God, family, country--and I put God first in that situation.”
When Jonsen got home from his mission in Taiwan, he reapplied to the Air Force Academy, but was denied. He was about to take a different career path when he decided to take some words of advice to heart.
“My dad was actually the one who talked to me into applying again to go back with Connor, and after some talking to him I decided I needed to give it one more chance,” he said.
Jonsen retook a couple of courses before reapplying the second time, and after two years of hard work, he was accepted to the academy once more.
The two brothers say it will be nice to be there together.
“Both of us went through alone the first time, he was in Taiwan when I entered in,” Connor said. “And I was still in high school when he went in, so definitely going back together and having that mutual support, I think will be a great strength, and it will, it will be really good for both of us.”
Jonsen said he would like to go into foreign areas studies, hopefully to use his language skills he learned on his mission. Connor is looking into a career in economics or finance.