Military Service - Big Tech Takes, but Doesn't Serve

The Internet's first incarnation was as a military project, and US technological prowess and the military are two intertwined cords – or they used to be. Northern Virginia was filled with offices where geeks worked side by side with uniformed officers to develop the latest missiles and high tech weaponry. This still happens, but now that big tech is based near San Francisco and Seattle, it's assumed much more of the character of a big pacifist love in. In fact, virtually none of the top executives in any of the biggest tech companies have any military service record at all.

Sergey Brin and Larry Page have taken Big Tech pacifism to a whole new level. Recently, Google took a back seat with its bid for the $10 billion dollar cloud-computing contract for the Department of Defense. Admittedly, this move was due to immense pressure from Google employees' and their conscientious objections to the project.

Ironically, Jeff Bezos slammed Google for its position on refusing to work with the government. Bezos warned, if Big Tech turns its back on the government, “ this country is going to be in trouble .” Bezos has portrayed his decision to stay in the race as patriotism. But no one can deny the appeal of a $10 billion paycheck – and no one can deny that there's a lack of Big Tech CEOs with service records.

Name Company Position Service Record
Jeff Bezos Amazon Founder/Chairman/President/CEO None Found
Brian Olsavsky Amazon CFO None Found
Jeff Wilke Amazon CEO, Worldwide Consumer None Found
Andy Jassy Amazon CEO, Web Services None Found
Tim Cook Apple CEO None Found
Luca Maestri Apple CFO None Found
Jeff Williams Apple COO None Found
Steve Jobs Apple Co-founder/CEO None Found
Larry Page Alphabet Inc. Co-founder/CEO None Found
Sergey Brin Alphabet Inc. Co-founder/President None Found
Eric E. Schmidt Alphabet Inc. Executive Chairman None Found
Ruth M. Porat Alphabet Inc. CFO, SVP None Found
Sundar Pichai Alphabet Inc. Director/CEO of Google None Found
Susan Wojcicki Alphabet Inc. CEO of YouTube None Found
Meir Brand Alphabet Inc. CEO/Director None Found
Mark Zuckerberg Facebook Founder/Chairman/CEO None Found
Sheryl Sandberg Facebook COO None Found
David Wehner Facebook CFO None Found
Mike Schroepfer Facebook CTO None Found
Chris Cox Facebook CPO None Found
Bill Gates Microsoft Founder/Chairman None Found
Satya Nadella Microsoft CEO None Found
Amy Hood Microsoft CFO None Found
Chris Capossela Microsoft CMO None Found
Elon Musk Tessla Chairman/Product Architect/CEO None Found
JB Straubel Tessla Co-founder/CTO None Found
Deepak Ahuja Tessla CFO None Found
There are some exceptions. Bob Parsons, 67, is of an older generation. One thing we know for sure; his service record would probably bar him getting a job at Google.
Bob Parsons GoDaddy.com Founder/Executive Chairman After coming close to flunking out of school, Parson's joined the 26th U.S. Marine Regiment (1969). Served as a rifleman during one tour of the Vietnam War, eventually being wounded while on duty. Awarded the Combat Ribbon of Action, Vietnam Gallantry Cross, and Purple Heart.
The lack of service record of big tech is not typical of corporate leaders overall; many CEOs have honorably served their country. We provide the list below just for the sake of contrast.
Kenneth H. Dhalberg Dhalberg Electronics Founder/CEO Drafted in 1941, served in the U.S. Army Airforces in WWII. Shot from the sky three different times, he earned 14 aerial victories, and was at one point a POW. Military awards include: Distinguished Service Cross; Silver Star; Distinguished Flying Cross; Purple Heart; Air Medal; Prisoner of War Medal; American Defense Service Medal; WWII Victory Medal; Air Force Longevity Service Award.
Robert F. McDermott USAA CEO Graduated U.S. Military Academy at West Point (1943), served as a Combat Pilot & Operations Officer during WWII. Completed a 25-year military career, retired with the rank of Brigadier General Awarded the Broze Star, Air Medal, Distinguished Service Medal (Army & Air Force), and Legion of Merit.
Ken Hicks Footlocker JC Penny Payless Shoe Source Inc. CEO President/COO/CMO President Graduated U.S. Military Academy at West Point (1974). Served as a U.S. Army Captain and Artillery Battery Commander. Completed a tour in the Korean War.
Steve Mumm GE Oil & Gas Project Manager Graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point (2002). Served in the U.S. Army as a Platoon Leader and Task Force Engineer in Tikrit (2002-2007). Retired with the rank of Captain.
Richard Kinder Kinder Morgan Executive Chairman Served as a Captain in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
Robert McDonald Proctor & Gamble President/CEO Graduated in the top 2% of his class at U.S. Military Academy at West Point. During his service with Army Infantry, completed warfare qualifications for Airborne, Jungle, Arctic, and Desert terrains, as well as Jumpmaster, Expert Infantry and Senior Parachutist qualifications.
Douglas Dayton Target President Enlisted in the U.S. Army (1942). Served in the Infantry Division under General Patton's Army in WWII. Awarded a purple heart for his injuries in Europe, and a French Legion Award.
Herb Vest True.com Founder/CEO Served in the U.S. Army (1967-1970). Completed 2 tours in Vietnam, retired with the rank of Infantry Company Commander. Awarded the Purple Heart for a shrapnel wound.
Alan B. Miller Universal Health Services Founder/CEO Enlisted in ROTC during college. Upon graduated, was commissioned as a U.S. Army Captain for the 77th Infantry Division.
Sam Walton Walmart Co-founder Served in the U.S. Army during WWII as an Intelligence Officer (1942-1945). Stationed stateside due to a heart condition. Retired with the rank of Captain.
Scott Rowe Cameron International CEO Graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, served in the U.S. Army.
Alex Gorsky Johnson & Johnson CEO Graduated from U.S. Military Academy at West Point (1982). Served as a U.S. Army Ranger for 6 years, retiring with rank of Captain. Received his Ranger Tab and Airborne Wings while serving in Europe.
Nicholas J. Bouras Bouras Industries Founder Enlisted in U.S. Army Air Corps (1942), deployed in Europe during WWII. Successfully flew 44 combat missions as a lead bombardier/navigator, retiring with the rank of Major. Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, and a total of 8 Air Medals and 5 Battle Stars.
Richard Smucker J.M. Smucker CEO Served in the U.S. Army Reserves (1970-1976).
George Joseph Mercury Insurance Group Founder Volunteered for service in the U.S. Airforce prior to WWII. Assigned as a North African B-12 Bomber Pilot (1942) during the war. Navigated over 50 missions from Tunisia to Italy.
George Sherman Advance Auto Parts CEO Served in the U.S. Air Force for 7 years
Dave Liniger RE/MAX Co-founder Served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War (1965-1971). Stationed in Texas, Arizona, Vietnam, and Thailand.
Fred Smith FedEx President/CEO While attending Yale University, decided to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. Served two tours in Vietnam (1967-1969). Retired with the rank of Company Commander. Awarded the Silver Star and two Purple Hearts for his service and injuries.
Robert S. Morrison Quaker Oats Company Kraft Foods Pepsi Cola Company CEO President/CEO Vice Chairman After finishing at Colombia University, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. Served in the Vietnam War (1963-1967), retired with rank of Captain. Received the Silver Star for his valor in combat, and the Purple Heart.
Jack C. Taylor Enterprise Rent-a-Car Executive Chairman Enlisted in the U.S. Navy in WWII, served as a F6F Hellcat Fighter Pilot U.S.S. Essex and U.S.S. Enterprise. Awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses and The Navy Air Medal.
William V. Hickey Sealed Air Corporation President/CEO Served in the U.S. Navy as an Officer in the Vietnam War. Awarded the Navy Cross for rescuing Marines trapped and facing enemy fire.
Kevin W. Sharer Fifth Third Bank General Electric CEO Various Exec Positions Graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1971. Chief Engineer U.S.S. Memphis, served on two U.S. Naval submarines. Retired with the rank of Lieutenant after serving for 7 years (1971-1978).
Daniel Akerson General Motors CEO Served as an Officer on a U.S. Naval Destroyer (1970-1975).
James A. Skinner McDonald's Walgreens CEO CEO Graduated from U.S. Military Academy at West Point (1962). Served for almost 10 years in the U.S. Navy. Completed two tours in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War.
Anthony Earley Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) Chairman/President/CEO Served as an officer in the United States Navy. Qualified as a Chief Engineer Officer during a tour on a nuclear submarine program.
Bill Simon Walmart COO 25 years dedicated to service in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Navy Reserve Retired with the rank of Leiutenant Commander (2005).
Bud Walton Walmart Co-founder Served for the U.S. Navy during WWII as a Bomber Pilot in the Pacific.
Kirk Kerkorian Tracinda Corp. President/CEO Served in the British RAF Air Transport Command. Completed 33 successful flights with de Havilland Mosquito airplanes from the ATL to Scotland taking an unbelievably dangerous route known to loose one out of every 40 flights.

Sources for Military Service Record information:

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