"The good news is that we have a volunteer Army and that's the way we're going to keep it," Romney told some 200 people gathered in an abbey near the Mississippi River that had been converted into a hotel. "My sons are all adults and they've made decisions about their careers and they've chosen not to serve in the military and active duty and I respect their decision in that regard."
He added: "One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected because they think I'd be a great president."
Now we learn this is an inherited trait.
[E]xactly 150 years ago, an ancestor of Mitt Romney deserted from U.S. Army troops sent to put down a purported Mormon rebellion in Utah.
Carl Heinrich (Charles Henry) Wilcken, Romney's great-great-grandfather, would give Mormons information about approaching troops, eventually joined the LDS Church and ultimately became a bodyguard and confidant of two church presidents.
The middle name of Romney's father, former Michigan Gov. George W. Romney (also once a presidential candidate), is Wilcken, after that soldier-ancestor.
The little-known soldier in the little-known "Utah War" was a topic Friday at the annual Utah State History Conference.
Wilcken saw poor protection by U.S. troops, which allowed Mormon militia to burn forage in front of the approaching army. LDS soldiers also burned many of the federal supply wagons and ran off the army's livestock. Soldiers had little to eat. Their winter camp in Wyoming would be one of the hardest in the history of the U.S. Army.
Wilcken decided to desert and head for Salt Lake City. But, Richardson said, Wilcken reported a spiritual experience that delayed that action for a day and possibly saved him from being jailed or shot.
As he was about to desert, he said he "heard a voice calling his name" — his real name, not the assumed name he used to enlist. Two other times as he was to leave, he heard his name called and stopped. Wilcken later learned that the cavalry had been on patrol all night watching Mormon camps and likely would have caught him.
Wilcken was baptized into the LDS Church only two months after he deserted the Army and later had plural wives. In later years, he became a messenger and bodyguard for LDS President John Taylor, who was, at times, in hiding during federal anti-polygamy crusades. He also was a bodyguard for President Wilford Woodruff, who succeeded John Taylor and ultimately led the church away from the practice of polygamy.