List of Presidents of the United States by military service


List of Presidents of the United States by military service

The United States Constitution names the President of the United States the commander in chief of the US armed forces. However, previous service in the military is not a pre-requisite for the position of president. As of the 2008 presidential election, no member of the US Marine Corps or US Coast Guard has yet been elected President. The most frequent military experience is Army/Army Reserve with 15 presidents, followed by State Militias at 9, Navy/Naval Reserve at 6 and the Continental Army with 2 presidents serving. The following list outlines the military service of each president before becoming the commander in chief.

President Service Rank Active Service
Barack Obama None None None
George W. Bush Texas Air National Guard First Lieutenant Stateside service during Vietnam War (1968–1973).
Bill Clinton None None None
George H.W. Bush United States Naval Reserve Lieutenant World War II (1942–1945) Distinguished Flying Cross
Ronald Reagan United States Army Reserve, United States Army Air Corps Captain Stateside service during World War II (1942–1945); Army Reserve (1937–1942) See also: List of United States Presidents by military rank and Ronald Reagan for more information on military service.
Jimmy Carter United States Navy Lieutenant World War II at the United States Naval Academy Sea duty and stateside service 1946-1953 during the Korean War
Gerald Ford United States Naval Reserve Lieutenant Commander World War II (1942–1945; combat on USS Monterey, discharged in 1946)
Richard Nixon United States Naval Reserve Commander World War II (1942–1945)
Lyndon B. Johnson United States Naval Reserve Commander[1] World War II received Silver Star medal after airplane he was riding in was attacked by enemy aircraft
John F. Kennedy United States Navy Lieutenant World War II received Navy and Marine Corps Medal and Purple Heart
Dwight D. Eisenhower United States Army General of the Army Stateside service during World War I. Served as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during World War II (1942–1945). Visited troops in Korea in December 1952. Entire active-duty career spanned from 1915 until 1952.
Harry S. Truman[2] United States Army, United States Army Reserve Colonel World War I (1917–1918); was then transferred to the army reserve and retired in 1953.
Franklin D. Roosevelt None None None; however Witnessed World War I while serving as Assistant Secretary of the Navy in France
Herbert Hoover None None None; however he did help guide US Marines in 1900 during the Boxer Rebellion
Calvin Coolidge None None None
Warren G. Harding None None None
Woodrow Wilson None None None
William Howard Taft None None None; United States Secretary of War 1904-1908
Theodore Roosevelt United States Army Colonel Spanish–American War – only U.S. President to receive the Medal of Honor (awarded posthumously in 2001)
William McKinley United States Army Brevet Major American Civil War
Benjamin Harrison United States Army Brigadier General American Civil War
Grover Cleveland None None None
Chester A. Arthur New York State Militia Brigadier General Served as Quartermaster General before and during the American Civil War (1858–1865).
James Garfield United States Army Major General American Civil War (1861–1863; left the army to serve in the United States House of Representatives).
Rutherford B. Hayes United States Army Major General American Civil War
Ulysses S. Grant United States Army General of the Army Mexican-American War and American Civil War; served 1843-1854 and 1861-1868.
Andrew Johnson United States Army Brigadier General American Civil War; served as Military Governor of Tennessee in 1862.
Abraham Lincoln Illinois State Militia Captain Black Hawk War (served three months in 1832); see Abraham Lincoln in the Black Hawk War.
James Buchanan Pennsylvania State Militia Private War of 1812
Franklin Pierce United States Army Brigadier General Mexican-American War
Millard Fillmore New York State Militia Major American Civil War
Zachary Taylor United States Army Major General War of 1812, Black Hawk War, Second Seminole War, Mexican-American War; entire career spanned from 1808 until 1848.
James K. Polk Tennessee State Militia Colonel Joined local militia, but never fought in any war during his service
John Tyler United States Army Captain War of 1812
William Henry Harrison United States Army Major General Northwest Indian War, War of 1812
Martin Van Buren None None None
Andrew Jackson North Carolina militia, United States Army General American Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Creek War, First Seminole War
John Quincy Adams None None None; however he was a witness to Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775 and reportedly was a non-participant in a Naval Battle between a British ship and a US ship he was on with his father during the American Revolution.
James Monroe Continental Army Major American Revolutionary War
James Madison Virginia militia Colonel American Revolutionary War, did not see action
Thomas Jefferson Virginia militia Colonel Administrative position, did not see action. As Governor of Virginia, fled during British raid to avoid capture
John Adams None None Adams served as chairman of the Continental Congress's Board of War (1776–1777), making him the simultaneous equivalent of today's Secretary of Defense and Chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee; was a semi-participant in a naval engagement between a British and US ship during the American Revolution.
George Washington Virginia militia, Virginia Regiment, Continental Army General of the Armies French and Indian War, American Revolutionary War

Notes

  1. ^ President Lyndon B. Johnson's Military Service Lyndon Baines Johnson Library & Museum
  2. ^ "Military Personnel File of Harry S. Truman". Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum. http://www.trumanlibrary.org/hstpaper/rg407.htm. Retrieved 1 January 2009. 

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