Mazel Tov and Military Secrets

Playing the part of butcher Chris Miasnik in Fiddler on the Roof came naturally to 1983 MPA alum Chris Miasnik: his last name is made up of the Russian occupational suffix and the word for meat. But there were a few other factors involved in landing the role of rejected suitor in the Bluffdale Arts Council production. “I was the oldest guy there, and I had the whitest beard,” he admits.

As far as the singing and dancing goes, Miasnik jokes that his age got him out of a lot. Yet the show had two sell-out nights, and his classic scene with Tevye—in which Lazar Wolf asks to marry Tevye’s daughter while Tevye believes they are negotiating the sale of a dairy cow—got a good laugh from the crowd. This was Miasnik’s first time in a play.

“It’s not really easy for me to memorize stuff, but I went back to my missionary days and just crammed it in there, saying my lines in the shower and every other place,” he says.

Miasnik has many stories to tell about his hobbies, but as far as his career goes, most of those tales remain a mystery, even to those closest to him.

Miasnik served in the US military for a total of thirty-four years, logging time in the marines and the Air and Army National Guards, with the bulk of his work in military intelligence. In 2004 he led an intelligence team in Iraq, where they searched for missing soldiers from what was at the time the biggest ambush of allied personnel. By staying on the trail they eventually collected information that helped lead to the discovery of a missing soldier’s body.

“One of our mottos was that we were there to make a difference, and I hope we did,” he says of the experience.

By the time he retired from the Utah Army National Guard in 2012, he was a chief warrant officer. This role required him to complete warrant officer basic school at fifty years old.

“It was like being back in boot camp,” he says. “They treat you like a recruit again—strip you of all your pride and self-worth. It was kind of neat.”

Though he was the second-oldest guy there, he came out with the second-highest physical fitness score in the class—thanks to a descending scoring system based on age. Miasnik is legitimately tough, though; since retirement he’s been putting his strength to the test working on his house and yard.

“I haul compost and roll boulders,” he says. “The neighbors call me ‘The Ox’ because they can’t believe that I’m this sixty-two-year-old guy rolling big boulders that people half my age wouldn’t even touch.”

In addition to his military service, Miasnik has worked for NASA, Thiokol, and USRobotics, all in contracts and budgeting work.

Even in retirement, his days still have an air of secrecy about them. He does physical security part-time for the NSA data center at Camp Williams. “My wife always asks me, ‘How was your day at work?’”

Miasnik’s reply is simple: “Dear, it was the same as yesterday—really boring.”

Miasnik received both his MPA in 1983 and his BA in public policy in 1981 at BYU. He and his wife, Angie, have a blended family of twelve children, making a total of forty-one grandchildren between them. They live in Bluffdale, Utah.

This article was originally published in the Winter 2015 issue of Marriott Alumni MagazineRead more class notes in Alumni News.