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Meet Jonny Kim: A Harvard doctor, Navy Seal Sniper, and A NASA Astronaut

When you were a kid, do you remember all the fun things you wanted to do and the adventures you wanted to go on? Jonny Kim achieved his aspirations of becoming a doctor, NASA astronaut, and sniper for Navy. And he finished it all by the time he was 37.

We can hear you wondering, “But… how?” Kim enlisted at the age of 16 and eventually became a Navy Seal rather than enrolling in college. In an interview with NBC San Diego, Kim claimed that his decision to enlist caused his mother to sob in disappointment. She didn’t like it very much, he continued. At least 20 years ago, when I was going through this process, I believe that many Asian Americans weren’t really comfortable with it.

History of Jonny Kim:

Jonny Kim, a Lieutenant Commander (LCDR), has been chosen by NASA to be a member of the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class. In August 2017, he reported for service; in 2021 he was the Increment Lead for Expedition 65 of the International Space Station.

The Silver Star and Bronze Star with Combat “V” have been awarded to Kim, a U.S. Navy SEAL who has completed over 100 combat missions. Kim graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in mathematics and the Harvard Medical School with a doctorate in medicine before being commissioned as a naval officer through an enlisted-to-officer program.

Personal information:

Jonny Kim is a Korean American immigrant who was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Enjoys spending time with his family, being outdoors, mentoring students and professionals, lifting weights, and continuing his education. Holds Advanced SCUBA certifications.

Santa Monica High School, Santa Monica, California, 2002; education 2012:

Jonny Kim and his mother at Harvard Medical School graduation./ Source:

The University of San Diego, summa cum laud, mathematics bachelor’s degree. Harvard Medical School awarded me a doctorate in medicine in 2016. 2017 Boston, Massachusetts, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital medical internship, Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency.


After graduating high school in 2002, Kim joined the Navy as a Seaman recruit. He reported to Coronado, California’s Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training after finishing Hospital Corpsman “A” school training. Kim reported to the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School in Fort Bragg, North Carolina for the Special Operations Combat Medic Course after finishing his training at Naval Special Warfare.

Jonny Kim obtained various certifications, including those for Combatant Diver (closed circuit rebreather), Naval Special Warfare Special Reconnaissance Scout and Sniper, and Advanced Special Operations Techniques before being assigned as a Special Warfare Operator to SEAL Team Three Charlie Platoon in San Diego, California.


Over the course of two deployments to the Middle East, including Ramadi and Sadr City, Iraq, Kim participated in more than 100 combat missions as a Special Operations Combat Medic, sniper, navigator, and point person. After graduating from the University of San Diego in 2012, he was appointed as a naval officer through the Navy’s Seaman to Admiral-21 enlisted-to-officer commissioning program.

Kim did his internship with the Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital before earning his medical degree from Harvard Medical School.

He stated, in an interview with Harvard Gazette:

 “He got a pretty nasty wound to the face,” One of the worst helplessness’s I’ve ever experienced. I could only focus on positioning him correctly and ensuring that his blood wasn’t impeding his airway. He required a doctor. I eventually managed to get him to a doctor, but that feeling of powerlessness was intense for me.

He went on to say,

“The loss of many excellent friends inspired me, and many of my surviving colleagues made sure we lived lives that were meaningful. I continue to reflect on all the decent people who didn’t get the chance to return home every day, even today. I make an effort to make up for the lives and worthwhile effects they may have had if they had lived.”

Experience with NASA:

Kim completed two years of training as an astronaut candidate before reporting for duty in August 2017. Physiological training, expeditionary training, field geology, robotics, technical and operational education in International Space Station systems, water and wilderness survival training, and Russian language competence training were all included in the program.

Kim started working as a Capsule Communicator (Capcom) in Mission Control Center Houston in 2020 to assist the operations of the International Space Station. Kim was chosen to lead Expedition 65’s increment on the International Space Station in April 2021.


Combat “V” on the Bronze Star Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Silver Star Medal, and several campaign and service awards. HM “A” School, Navy Hospital Corpsman, Distinguished Honor Graduate. Commandant’s List, Joint Special Operations Medical Training Center, Special Operations Combat Medic Course (JSOMTC). Special Operations Medical Association’s Naval Special Warfare Medic of the Year award.

Pat Tillman Foundation Tillman Scholar Scholarship from the University of San Diego’s trustees. The University of San Diego’s Summa cum laude (Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps). the honor society Phi Beta Kappa. the honor society Kappa Gamma Pi. Society of Mortar Board Honor.

A successful and unconventional professional path:

After finishing his training at Naval Special Warfare at Coronado, Kim joined the elite Navy SEAL unit and was subsequently assigned to SEAL Team 3. Kim served as a Special Operation Combat Medic, a navigator, and a sniper during his two deployments, and throughout his military career, he performed over 100 combat operations.

As if that weren’t enough, he was also given the Silver and Bronze Stars for bravery. Kim enlisted after high school, delaying his plans for college, but in 2012, Later, Kim understood that his time spent in combat had inspired him to pursue a career in medicine.

He pursued his desire, attended Harvard Medical School, and earned his medical degree in 2016. Despite all his achievements, his desire to help humanity was not met. That is when he made the decision to aim high. Kim applied for astronaut candidacy in 2017 and was chosen by NASA to become the first Korean American astronaut. after an already distinguished military career, he returned to complete his bachelor’s degree in mathematics at the University of San Diego.

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