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Interesting Things About the U.S. Army

We had one before we actually had a country. Over a dozen presidents have served. They are responsible for modern guerilla warfare and the U.S. Air Force. Over a million serve in some branch, including hundreds of dogs. This week’s blog article is about the U.S. Army.

It’s older than the United States.

The first form of the U.S. Army, known as the Continental Army, was established on June 14th, 1775. This was over a year before the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the formation of the United States. They were formed in wartime, in this case the Revolutionary War, and eventually would become the Army that we know today.

They’ve had only five 5-star generals.

This rank, also known as General of the Army, has only been bestowed on a handful of men. This includes such big names as Douglas MacArthur and George C Marshall, as well as Omar Bradley and future President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower. The fifth man, Henry H. Arnold, was later appointed to the Air Force. Technically this means the Army has only had four, but he earned his rank while still serving in the Army, so we’re still counting it.

It employs over a million people.

There are over 480,000 active duty servicepeople. The National Guard adds roughly 336,000 to the totals, with another 275,000 in the reserves. This doesn’t even include the thousands of civilian employees who work for the Army. That’s a lot of people!

Around 500 dogs also serve.

There are roughly 1600 service dogs in the United States military, and of those, around 500 serve in the Army. Dogs are used as trackers, bomb sniffers, attack canines, search and rescue, and patrol duties. These dogs also hold rank like any other soldier and are buried with full honors.

Over a dozen presidents have served.

Sixteen presidents have served in some for of the Army, whether it was the Continental Army, the U.S. Army, or the Reserve. These presidents include Washington, Monroe, Jackson, both Harrisons, Taylor, Pierce, Andrew Johnson, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, and Reagan. With the exception of George W. Bush, none of our twenty-first century presidents have served in the military.

The swastika was used on certain uniforms.

For the first fifteen years of it’s existence, the 45th Infantry Division sported a yellow swastika on a red background. The swastika is a Native American object symbolizing good luck, among other things, and was used by the division to honor the numerous Native Americans who served with them. Unfortunately, the Nazis had to go and ruin the symbol and the division was forced to replace it with the current Thunderbird in 1939.

It protects the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment is also known as “the Old Guard.” They serve as the Army’s official ceremonial unit and are responsible for military ceremonies in the Washington, D.C. area. Aside from this duty, they serve as escorts to the President of the United States and protect the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Apparently those appointed to this latter task go through a complicated and rigorous training routine before they are permitted to this duty.

The first woman served in the Revolutionary War.

Her name was Deborah Sampson and she was incredible! She disguised herself as a man named Robert Shurtleff and was able to hide her true identity for over two years. In that time, she was shot in the thigh and dug the musket ball out of her own leg to escape detection. One day, however, she was hospitalized during an epidemic in Philadelphia and the gig was up. She was granted an honorable discharge and was the only woman to receive a full military pension from the Revolutionary army.

They were responsible for the first military submarine.

During the Revolutionary War! Called the Turtle, it was invented by David Bushnell and Isaac Doolittle, who both served in the Continental Army. The latter man also created sea mines and rudimentary torpedoes that were used to blast apart British ships in New England. The sub only held one person and was said to not work very well, but it was a submarine nonetheless. Hey, you gotta start somewhere!

They gave birth to the U.S. Air Force.

Before the Air Force’s creation, we had the Army Air Force or AAF. Following World War II, in 1947, the entire division was transferred from the Department of the Army to the new Department of the Air Force, where it eventually evolved into the U.S. Air Force that we know today. The Air Force is responsible for some interesting duties, including Hurricane Hunter flights that observe tropical weather off the Atlantic Coast.

Once upon a time, the Army wanted me in the worst way. To this day I don’t know why, unless it was just a random draw by the recruiters and they were particularly aggressive. I certainly didn’t sign up for anything. They called nearly once a month, sometimes twice a month, for three years and sent dozens of pieces of literature in the mail. Eventually they must’ve caught on that I wasn’t interested, because they stopped calling. Sometimes I wonder how different things would be if I had joined up, but I don’t regret my decision to stay a civilian. Grandpa once told me that if I joined the military I would be on permanent K.P. and he’s probably right.


U.S. Army-

U.S. Department of Defense-

American Kennel Club-

Presidents of the United States-

The 45th Infantry Thunderbird Museum-

Arlington National Cemetery-

National Women’s History Museum-

Revolutionary War Journal-

U.S. Air Force-

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