Jonny Kim – A Navy SEAL, A Medical Doctor, and Now an Astronaut

Sometimes people come along that break all of the molds, individuals that go beyond the seeming limits of a single lifetime, that achieve things that are beyond the capacities of most of us. Jonny Kim is one of those people. In his relatively young life, he has accomplished things that would be considered successful achievements for at least three people. He can put on his resume that he is a Navy SEAL, a doctor of medicine, and now an astronaut.

Kim enlisted in the Navy in 2002 at age 18, and, after completing boot camp, he completed Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL/BUD/S training and was assigned to SEAL Team 3. He served as a combat medic, sniper, and navigator over two deployments to the Middle East in Ramadi and Sadr City, Iraq. He would complete 100 combat operations during that time and be awarded both a Silver Star and a Bronze Star with Combat “V”s. He would also complete the requirements for the Military Freefall Parachutist, Combat Diver, Naval Special Warfare Special Reconnaissance Sniper, and Advanced Special Operations Techniques qualification courses.

Photo: YouTube/NASA

It was during his combat time that he would be inspired to pursue a medical degree. In a Task & Purpose article, he is quoted saying, “I made a promise to a lot of the people that I lost that I would spend the rest of my life doing something good, something positive for the world, because they left a void when they died, and I know that they would have been successful, making the world a better place, had they lived.”

According to the Navy, Kim was commissioned in 2012 through the Seaman to Admiral-21 Program, graduating from the University of San Diego and then from Harvard Medical School, where he specialized in Emergency Medicine.

But Kim wasn’t done evolving yet. In 2017, he was one of 11 persons out of 18,300 who were selected by NASA for their astronaut program. He graduated with his class in 2019.

Photo: YouTube/NASA

And there was still one more thing to accomplish, something that brings some essentially valuable skills to an astronaut. On the 24th of March, 2023, he completed helicopter training and earned his wings at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Florida. Why is this important? According to Kim, “NASA rally values helicopter pilots for their perspectives and crew resource management mentality.” Astronauts in the Apollo Space Program complete helicopter training because of the similarities with lunar capsule procedures. Space flight is closely related to aviation skills.

Kim was recently placed on the “Commodore’s List” of distinguished graduates, making him one of the few people in the ranks of the U.S. Military who are both qualified naval flight surgeons and pilots as part of the Navy’s Aeromedical Dual Designator Program.

Jonny Kim, SEAL, Medical Doctor, and Pilot. Now that is a life of accomplishments, and he still has more to accomplish ahead of him. We will have to keep our eyes on him and see what he will accomplish as an Apollo astronaut in the years to come. Bravo Zulu, Lieutenant Commander Jonny Kim!

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