- Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky, Kinder Morgan executive chairman Richard Kinder, and FedEx CEO Frederick W. Smith all served overseas.
- Here are other Fortune 500 CEOs who have served in the military.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Few institutions teach discipline, management, logistics, and efficiency like the US Armed Forces, so it’s no surprise that Ranker’s list of Fortune 500 CEOs finds many military veterans.
Below are some of the most accomplished military vets who went on to lead Fortune 500 companies.
Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky was a member of the Army’s elite Rangers and served in Europe, the US, and Panama.
- Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
West Point graduate Alex Gorsky served in the Army for six years, eventually achieving the rank of captain.
Former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert A. McDonald served in the 82nd Airborne Division, retiring with the rank of Captain.
Robert A. McDonald wanted to be in the Army so bad that he wrote his congressman for a special exemption at just 11 years old. Eventually, he came of age and got his wish.
He is a former CEO of Procter & Gamble, and also served as secretary of Veterans Affairs in the Obama administration, where he worked to improve veterans’ access to healthcare.
Robert Myers, chairman of Casey’s General Store, spent 22 years in the US Army.
Robert Myers spent 22 years in the US Army, serving in Germany, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. He retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1988.
Afterward, he began working at Casey’s General as a manager. Within a few years he worked his way to the top of the corporation, which owns hundreds of stores across America, many of which are situated in small towns with populations of 5,000 or less.
James A. Skinner of McDonald’s and the Walgreens Boots Alliance served in the US Navy for nearly 10 years.
Skinner began his career working at a McDonald’s in Iowa. He then went on to join the US Navy and serve for nearly 10 years, including two tours of the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam war.
When he returned from service, he again worked at McDonald’s, this time as a manager. From there he worked his way up to CEO. He now serves as the executive chairman of Walgreens Boots Alliance, a holding company that owns Walgreens and the UK pharmacy Boots.
Herb Vest, head of financial advisory firm H.D. Vest, served nearly four years in Vietnam.
Long before Herb Vest sold his financial advisory firm, H.D. Vest, to Wells Fargo in 2001 for $127.5 million, he’d served nearly four years in Vietnam. He was in the airborne cavalry, where he led dangerous helicopter raids as an officer.
After success in financial advising, Vest funded an online dating site, True.com, which went bankrupt in 2012.
Viacom founder Sumner Redstone intercepted and analyzed coded Japanese communications during WWII.
- Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images
Redstone is the current chairman emeritus of media empire Viacom, and is estimated to be worth $4.5 billion.
The Boston native and Harvard graduate took one of his first post-college jobs with the US Army during World War II, where he worked to intercept and analyze coded Japanese communications.
Former Foot Locker CEO Ken Hicks served in the Korean War.
Ken Hicks is the former CEO and president of the sneaker chain Foot Locker, and he has also held high-level executive roles at JC Penney and Payless ShoeSource.
His father was a World War II veteran, and Hicks served in the military as an artillery battery commander in the Korean War.
Richard Kinder, executive chairman of Kinder Morgan, was once a Captain in the US Army.
Richard Kinder is executive chairman of Kinder Morgan, Inc., one of the largest energy companies in North America, worth approximately $115 billion.
Former Lumeta chief Tom Dent was a decorated fighter pilot in the US Navy.
Tom Dent is the former CEO of a management and logistics firm called Lumeta, but before that, he was a decorated fighter pilot in the US Navy.
Dent served three tours of duty, where he learned a great deal about leadership. He’s said that he still has his 1960s copy of “Small Unit Leadership: A Commonsense Approach.”
Former Rockwell Collins CEO Clayton M. Jones was once in the US Air Force.
Jones is the former CEO of the aeronautics firm Rockwell Collins, and he’s said that he was served by his experience as a fighter pilot with the US Air Force. He is now a fellow at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Former General Motors CEO Daniel Akerson once served as a Naval officer.
Formerly a Carlyle Group exec and CEO of GM, Daniel Akerson has a reputation for getting things done, so much so, that he once removed tubes from his arm and discharged himself from a hospital after growing impatient waiting on doctors.
Akerson is the son of a World War II veteran. He served as a Naval officer aboard the destroyer DUPONT.
Former Lockheed Martin CEO Robert J. Stevens joined the US Marines straight out of high school at the age of 18.
Stevens was the CEO of Lockheed Martin from 2004 until 2012. Current CEO Marillyn Hewson took over from Stevens a year later.
Stevens joined the US Marines straight out of high school at the age of 18. He became a highly decorated serviceman, receiving several awards including the Globe and Anchor Award from the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation’s Circle of Honor Award, and the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation’s Semper Fidelis Award.
Former ConocoPhillips CEO James Mulva was stationed by the US Navy in Bahrain.
In 2012, James Mulva stepped down as CEO of energy giant ConocoPhillips, which he had led since 2002.
Mulva attended college in an ROTC program before being stationed by the US Navy in Bahrain. While in the Middle East, he learned about the energy industry and its geopolitical implications first hand.
Former Verizon chairman Lowell McAdam spent six years in the US Navy Civil Engineer Corps.
- Thomson Reuters
After serving as Verizon CEO for seven years, McAdam stepped down in 2018. Before he was the head of the America’s largest mobile network, he spent six years in the US Navy Civil Engineer Corps, where he became a licensed professional engineer.
In the Navy, he worked with the Seabees, a special construction unit. McAdam’s unit was even responsible for building sets for the hit film “Top Gun.”
FedEx CEO Frederick W. Smith served with the US Marines in Vietnam in two tours of duty.
- DePaul Law
Smith began his life as the son of a prominent businessman, but with a condition that left him confined to crutches until the age of 10. He outgrew his ailment, went on to play sports in high school, and ultimately worked as CEO of FedEx.
Smith served with the US Marines in Vietnam in two tours of duty, one as a an infantryman, and another as a pilot. He received various medals for his service long before he was hailed as “The Father of overnight delivery.”