From Nile A. Sorenson: [Nile A. Sorenson of Chino Hills, California, was one of the very early members of the Church in Puerto Rico. He sent in this history of the early days of the Church branches in Puerto Rico. He served as a branch president when the first branches were organized in Puerto Rico.]

In the summer of 1954 I was transferred as a young Air Force officer to Ramey AFB., (Acquadilla Puerto Rico). I was pleased to find an LDS Serviceman's Group in operation. The Group Leader was Captain Melvin J. Rudd. His wife was named Pauline. There was a lot of activity among the group which consisted of officers and enlisted men and their families assigned to the base. A Sunday morning Sacrament Meeting was held and a fireside was held in the evening at one of the homes. The group met in the Quonset Hut next to the Base Chapel -- referred to as the "Chapel Annex."

In May of 1955, Captain Rudd and the Group Leader in San Juan (probably Warrant Officer Allen Petersen of the Army) were contacted and informed that President Peter Ricks of the Southern States Mission and President Robert Sorenson of the South Florida District were coming to Puerto Rico to look at the functions of the Church on the island, and explore the possibility of estabishing an 'official organization' of the church. Apparently a sister who was a member of the Church, married to a non-member man who was associated with a Sugar Processing Plant between Aguadilla and Mayaguez, had contacted President Henry D. Moyle of the First Presidency and expressed concern that there should be some organization of the church in Puerto Rico operating officially. (I do not recall her name.)

A meeting was scheduled in the Base Chapel at Ramey AFB in May (either May 22nd or May 29th, 1955). Members of the Servicemen's Group in the San Juan area were invited to come to Ramey AFB for a combined meeting under the direction of President Ricks.

In that meeting two branches of the Church were formed. (1) The Ramey Branch, and (2) the San Juan Branch. I was sustained as the first Branch President of the Ramey Branch with Captain Phil R. Young as First Counselor and John Thygerson as Second Counselor. Warrant Officer Petersen was sustained as the Branch President of the San Juan Branch. (It should be noted that at that time Captain Rudd was preparing to leave Ramey for the U. S. to a new base assignment.)

Gardner H. Russell (former member of the Quorum of Seventy) and his wife were members of the San Juan Branch.

President Petersen and I were instructed on how to proceed to work with the Southern States Mission Office so that membership records could be obtained for our members and to the extent possible, carry out the full program of the church, i.e. holding auxiliary meetings, collecting tithing, submitting church reports, etc.

We proceeded to do as instructed and got along quite well. During the time I served as the Branch President we were visited by members of the South Florida District Presidency. Elder Clifford E. Young of the Council of Seventy also paid a visit to us. When President Berkley Bunker replaced President Ricks as the Mission President, he and Sister Bunker visited Puerto Rico. As I recall, they were accompanied by President Robert Sorenson of the South Florida District. President and Sister Bunker visited the branches at least one other time.

We were visited at least every six months by the Mission President, members of the South Florida District and/or others. On those occasions, we rotated meeting locations between Ramey and San Juan.

During the time I was the Branch President we had several converts from among the military. (Baptisms were held either at Crash Boart beach or in the Officers Club swimming pool on base.) Army personnel from Ponce came to our meetings as did Lyman and Vivian Willardson. Lyman was an Irrigation Specialist working for the Insular government. We carried on a full program of the church -- Sunday School, followed by Sacrament Meeting, and firesides on Sunday evening. Primary, Relief Society and MIA were held during the week. We received a lot of cooperation from the Base Chaplain and had a good relationship with his office.

We had many social activities including firesides, beach parties, barbecues, etc. All in all, we had a wonderful time with strong bonds of friendships between the members and a lot of reactivation efforts. Friendships established at that time still exist today.

When I was transferred back to the U.S. in June 1957, Captain Ralph Kimball, a military dentist, was installed as the President of the Ramey Branch. Ralph now lives with his wife Nedra in the Walnut Stake, Walnut, California.