Which Presidents served in the military? It might surprise you......

OK, I am little early for President's Day, but this is interesting stuff.  Read down to the bottom:  I have a question for you.  Note:  I assume this information to be correct, but different sources sometimes say different dates of service.  Please let me know if you see any errors, and I will correct them.

Dave Schlemmer, a fellow American Legion member, put a chart in our Post newsletter recently, and it gave me the idea for this blog post.  I also found a page the Veterans Administration has with a lot more information about Presidents who were veterans.

By my count, 31 of our Presidents served in the military in one way, shape or form. Note: This includes those Presidents who served in state militias only. Yes, there are the obvious ones- General George Washington, Commander in Chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, General Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander during World War II, and John F. Kennedy who captained the fated PT boat 109, also during WWII.

Here are some that suprised or interested me:

Ronald Reagan- Captain, U.S. Army Reserves/U.S. Army Air Corps 1937-1945 (Had to put this on here, Reagan is my favorite President)

Andrew Jackson- General, North Carolina militia and U.S. Army.  Check out how many different conflicts he was in: Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Creek War, First Seminole War

Abraham Lincoln- Captain, Illinois state militia, Black Hawk War in 1832  (if you have heard of this war this teacher gives you an A+)

Harry S. Truman- Served in World War I, and retired as a Colonel with many years in the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserve (I tried to verify the number of years, but several sites said different dates of service).  An interesting note about Truman: His eyesight was terrible- 20/50 in the right eye, and 20/40 in his left eye.  Rumor has it he memorized the eye chart to be allowed to participate in World War I !!

George H.W. Bush- A World War II pilot who received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions.

Theodore Roosevelt- Colonel, U.S. Army, won the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Spanish American War.  Read his Medal citation here. (incidentally due to politics it was not issued to his family until 2001!)

A few more facts I found:

Four Presidents served during the Revolutionary War- Washington, Madison, Monroe, and Jackson

Four during the War of 1812- Jackson, W.H. Harrison, Tyler, and Taylor

Eight during the Civil War- Filmore, A. Johnson, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, B. Harrison, McKinley

Eight during World War II (combat or not)- Eisenhower, Kennedy, L. Johnson (Silver Star), Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush


Let's face it, America likes its Commander in Chief to have served in the military.  So my question to you is, how important to you is it that a Presidential candidate served in the military?

Comment below.






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Comment by Tina Shang on February 6, 2012 at 7:29pm

I agree with John. I think the president should have served for the same reason John mentioned and so that him/she truly understands what is being asked of those men and women who serve when the time comes to call them to action. 

Comment by John Derek Rigby on February 6, 2012 at 10:24am

Yep I knew about Lincoln and the Black Hawk war. In fact thats why the Black Hawk helicopter got it's name and happens to be the only helicopter named for an individual Indian. Also I feel that it should be a requirement for our president to have served in the military. How can you put some one in command of such a mighty force who has no experience in that field? Yes I know he has advisers but the President has the last word in the end! 

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