The U.S is home to 724 billionaires, many of whom have taken on immense risks in the financial world. 16 of these wealthy individuals have also taken on the risks that come with serving in the U.S. military.
These veteran billionaires are worth a collective $81.4 billion and have served in posts ranging from Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) to infantrymen in the Second World War. This visual, using data from Forbes, ranks the richest living American veterans.
This visual categorizes the individuals by either the military branch or war served in depending on what was applicable or determinable.
I Want You for the U.S. Army
According to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, there are around 18 million veterans in the U.S. Of these 18 million, less than 0.01% can claim the title of billionaire.
|Name||Net Worth (Billions, USD)||Industry||War / Unit Served|
|Donald Bren||$15.3||Real Estate||Marine Corps|
|Edward Johnson III||$10.3||Finance & Investments||Army|
|Ralph Lauren||$7.1||Fashion & Retail||Army|
|Richard Kinder||$7.0||Energy||Vietnam War|
|Charles Dolan & family||$6.1||Media & Entertainment||WWII, Airforce|
|Fred Smith||$5.7||Logistics||Vietnam War, Marine Corps|
|Charles B. Johnson||$4.9||Finance & Investments||Army|
|Ted Lerner & family||$4.8||Real Estate||WWII|
|Julian Robertson Jr.||$4.5||Finance & Investments||Navy|
|John Paul DeJoria||$2.7||Fashion & Retail||Navy|
|H. Ross Perot Jr.||$2.7||Real Estate||Airforce|
|Bob Parsons||$2.2||Technology||Vietnam War, Marine Corps|
|David H. Murdock||$2.1||Food & Beverage||WWII|
|S. Daniel Abraham||$2.0||Food & Beverage||WWII, Army|
|Charlie Munger||$2.0||Finance & Investments||WWII, Army Air Corps|
|George Joseph||$2.0||Finance & Investments||WWII|
Six of the above veteran billionaires served in WWII. They are some of the last surviving veterans of the historic war which was fought by 16 million Americans—today, only around 325,000 WWII veterans are still alive.
George Joseph, of Mercury Insurance Group, piloted a B17 Bomber plane in WWII, and completed around 50 missions. Warren Buffett’s business partner at Berkshire Hathaway, Charlie Munger, served in the Army Air Corps in the early 1940s.
Richard Kinder (Kinder Morgan Inc.), Fred Smith (FedEx), and H. Ross Perot Jr. (Hillwood Investment Properties) each served in the Vietnam war.
One notable figure, Ralph Lauren, whose name is synonymous with his clothing products, served in the Army branch for two years in the early 1960s.
Taking on Financial Risk
Billionaire wealth continues to grow in America. Most of these veteran billionaires saw their net worths increase from 2020 to 2021, as, typically, wealth begets wealth. Here’s a look at the changes in net worth of the top five richest veterans who experienced increases:
- Edward Johnson III: +$4.9 Billion
- Ralph Lauren: +$1.4 Billion
- Richard Kinder: +$1.8 Billion
- Charles Dolan & Family: +$1.5 Billion
- Fred Smith: +$3.0 Billion
The majority of these veteran billionaires are in the finance industry and some are tied to well-known companies, but they didn’t always have billions on hand to help them exponentially grow their fortunes.
David Murdock was a high school dropout, and after serving in WWII, had no money to his name. He took over a failing company called Dole, and eventually gained the moniker of ‘pineapple king’ after reviving the business.
S. Daniel Abraham, who was an infantryman in WWII, went on to found Thompson Medical. Their main product was Slimfast, which he later sold to Unilever for $2.3 billion in cash in the early 2000s.
Bob Parsons, who received a Purple Heart for his service in Vietnam, started out his professional career as a CPA. He later founded the enormous domain giant, Go Daddy. He has claimed that his time in the military helped him succeed in business.
Peace and Prosperity
We currently live in one of the most peaceful and prosperous times in history, with wars like WWII feeling to many like a story from the past — but for others these conflicts were defining moments for their generation.
While many veterans struggle to readjust to civilian life, on average pre-9/11 veterans have reported fewer difficulties compared to post-9/11 veterans, and some have even managed to reach the highest levels of financial success.