As a boy growing up in Provo, Utah, Robert C. Oaks read of Captain Moroni and other heroes of the Book of Mormon and might have dreamed of donning sword and buckler to fight his country's enemies. But he could hardly have known that his sword would be a sabre... a super saber... an F-100 Super Saber and it would fly at supersonic speeds.
Robert C. Oaks was born February 14, 1936 in Los Angeles, California to Charles E. Oaks and his wife, Ann Bennett. Robert was raised in Provo, Utah in a strong Gospel tradition. He was baptized as a child and received the Aaronic Priesthood as a youth. "I can't ever remember not believing," he recounted to a reporter from the Church News "I went to Primary and Sunday School and I can tell you what chair I was sitting in when I first heard the story about David and Goliath. I grew up in the total surrounding environment of the Mormon community, and the testimony emerged."
Robert attended Brigham Young High School where he lettered in four sports. He had considered going on to Brigham Young University and study law. He even considered going into politics but instead opted for the the new Air Force Academy so that he might continue his athletic career and receive flight training. He was in the first class to graduate from the Air Force Academy and earned a Bachelor's degree in Military Science. Later, he went on to earn a Master of Business Administration from Ohio State University. He also attended the Naval War College.
Robert met Gloria Mae Unger as a youth, when she came forward to compliment him on a two and a half minute talk he had given. The two became fast friends and starting dating in High School. After his graduation from the Academy, he took her to the Salt Lake Temple, there to be married for time and all eternity. They have since had six children.
Robert pursued a career in the United States Air Force, a career that was almost cut short in Viet Nam. On a mission over the Mekong Delta, Robert's plane was hit. He tried to guide the stricken aircraft back to base even after his wing man reported he was streaming flames, but when the controls went mushy, he was forced to eject. He suffered a hard landing when his chute had dificulty opening, and was knocked unconscious. Upon awakening, he found he was surrounded... by water bufalo on the ground and F-100s in the air. His friends flew cover for him until a helicopter arrived to pick him up.
Robert stayed in the Air Force after the conflict and climbed the ranks rapidly, eventually being promoted to the rank of General. His assignments, in addition to Viet nam, included Florida, Nevada, Korea, back to the Air Force Academy, this time as a faculty member, Germany, Italy, Texas, and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. After thirty-five years in the Air Force, he retired in 1994, wearing four stars on each shoulder. Following his retirement he was employed at U.S. Airways as Senior Vice President.
Many career military men find difficulty finding the proper balance between the demands of the military and service to the Lord. Robert overcame any such difficulty he might have faced. He served as Gospel Doctrine teacher eleven times during his military career. He also found time to serve as a counselor to a branch president, counselor to a district president, counselor to a mission president, counselor to a bishop, Stake Missionary, and Stake High Councilor. After leaving the service he was called as Stake President of the Pittsburgh Pennsylvania North Stake.
It was while serving a Stake President that he was called into full-time service to the Lord. He was ordained a Seventy and called into the Second Quorum of the Seventy in April of 2000. In the October, 2004 session of General Conference Elder Oaks was called to the Presidency of the Seventy. The call was unique in that he was not first called to the First Quorum.
Thus when he was released from the Presidency on August 1, 2007, he returned not to
the First, but to the Second Quorum of the Seventy where he continued to serve with honor and distinction
until a grateful Church in General Conference assembled released him with a vote of thanks in October 2009.