Alumnus Credits Mines for Providing the Foundation for His Military Career

Jerry Logan climbed the Navy ranks; now he helps others climb mountains.

When Jerry Logan (MinE 83) was a student at South Dakota Mines, it never crossed his mind to talk to the Navy submarine recruiters when they were on campus. He had never really considered going into the military, and current events at that time didn’t necessarily turn him on to the idea. Plus, the Belle Fourche native had a keen interest in engineering and saw himself entering the mining field after graduation. 

However, several role models, a book, and a recession aided in his decision to consider the military. One of the first people to plant that seed was one of his football coaches at Mines who happened to be a captain stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base. 

“He was a very sharp and caring person who challenged you to do well, and that was one of my closest interactions with someone in the military,” says Logan. 

Additionally, one of his seven sisters was in ROTC in college, and another had been appointed to the Air Force Academy. But perhaps the most pivotal connection was another sister’s brother-in-law who was in the Navy. He told Logan about the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. 

“That caught my attention, and at the time I was also reading a book about John F. Kennedy which talked about his time in WWII. I thought, maybe I’ll give this a try. I’ll go see a little bit of the world and then I’ll come back and go to work in a mine in Wyoming.”  

Logan figured he would stay in the Navy for just one, five-year commitment. However, 30 years later he retired as a Navy Captain. When asked why he didn’t stick to his five-year plan, he recalls his commanding officer as a shift engineer at a reactor plant in Idaho.

“That was where I really saw an officer who clearly enjoyed having that responsibility and just did it well. He held you to a high standard, but you could also have some fun. Seeing someone like that got me thinking about what more I could do.”

Logan credits Mines with his ability to climb the Navy ranks and make the most out of his Navy career. 

“There is a very technical aspect of nuclear submarining. Without an engineering or strong science background, I wouldn’t have even had a shot at being accepted into the nuclear propulsion program. Having that Mines education was certainly the reason they accepted me to interview, and it also provided a very strong foundation for the training I underwent once accepted.” 

Aside from his Mines background, Logan said another key to his success was his ability to be kind and open when working with other people - something he learned a lot about as a football player at Mines.

“It’s a lot about how you process and accept news that you don’t want to hear and also how you deal with people on the front lines.”

Since retiring from the Navy in 2014, Logan has been very active with two groups in his current city of Bremerton, WA, the Mountaineers and Olympic Mountain Rescue. He has completed specialized training to help other people reach their goals of climbing some of the highest peaks, and he also provides emergency support when climbers are in danger. 

Despite now living in the Pacific Northwest, Logan gets back to the Black Hills often, as he has many family members in the area. The Black Hills have a special spot in his heart, and so does South Dakota Mines.

“I think about my Mines education all the time,” he says. “It’s a key reason why I got to where I wanted to go.” 

Thank you to Jerry Logan and all of the others who have served.