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MILITARY SERVICE


The United States gained its independence after a titanic eight-year battle against the British Empire in the last quarter of the 18th century. In the 236 years since, we have fought in 12 major wars (excluding the Civil War) and 18 armed conflicts (trivia: the United States have only lost one war during the time - the Vietnam War). Our first president and Commander of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, George Washington, was a legendary surveyor-turned soldier-turned statesman.

With such a deep role in the psyche and history of our nation, it should come as no surprise that, for many Americans, the military remains as one of the most important considerations in the choice of their presidents. After all, these men have proven their bravery, valor and leadership ability under the most demanding of situations.

Thirty-one of our former presidents were part of the country's military at some stage of their career. With the exception of the Marine and Coast Guard, every other branch of the nation's armed forces has contributed at least one president for the country.

The trend has somewhat been reversed in the 20th century since the election of Howard Taft in 1909, as economy, health care and foreign relations, which demand completely different skill sets, took a more central role in the public's consciousness. It certainly did not help that the perceived righteousness and sense of honor often associated with our military campaigns have been sorely lacking in the several conflicts we've had in the last fifty years.

Presidents In Combat


George Washington
Colonel with the Virginian Colonial troops during the French and Indian War
General and Commander in Chief of Continental Army during the American Revolution
Lieutenant General of the United States Army

James Monroe
Major in the Continental Army during the American Revolution

Andrew Jackson
Major General of Continental Army during the American Revolution
Also fought in the War of 1812, Creek War and the First Seminole War

William Henry Harrison
Major General, U.S. Army
Fought in the War of 1812 and the Indian Wars in the Northwest territories

John Tyler
Captain, U.S. Army
Fought in the War of 1812

Zachary Taylor
Major General, U.S. Army
Fought in the War of 1812, the Indian Wars (Black Hawk War and Florida War), and the Mexican wars

Franklin Pierce
Brigadier General, U.S. Army
Fought in the Mexican-American War

James Buchanan
A member of the Pennsylvania State Militia that fought the invading British forces in the War of 1812

Andrew Johnson
Brigadier General, U.S. Army
Appointed military governor of occupied Tennessee during the Civil War

Ulysses Grant
General, U.S. Army
Led the Union to defeat the Confederates in the Civil War

Rutherford Hayes
Major General, U.S. Army
Fought in the Civil War

James Garfield
Major General, U.S. Army
Fought in the Civil War

Benjamin Harrison
Colonel, 70th Indiana Infantry
Brigadier General, U.S. Army
Fought in the Civil War

William McKinley
Commissary Sergeant, 23rd Ohio Infantry
First Lieutenant, U.S. Army
Fought in the Civil War

Theodore Roosevelt
Colonel, U.S. Army
Fought in the Spanish-American War
The only President to be awarded the Medal of Honor (posthumously, 2001)

Harry Truman
Private, Missouri Army National Guard
Colonel, U.S. Navy Reserve (U.S. Army Coast Artillery Corps)
Captain, National Guard
Served as Battery Commander for Battery D of the 35th Infantry Division in France during World War I. Truman did not lose a single man under his command during the campaign.

Dwight Eisenhower
General, U.S. Army
Supreme Commander of Allied Command, during World War II
Army Chief of Staff (1945)
Commander in Chief of NATO (1950)

John Kennedy
Lieutenant, United States Navy
World War II veteran

Lyndon Johnson
Commander, U.S Navy Reserve
An appointee of President Roosevelt, Johnson was controversially awarded a Silver Star after a single, 13-minute combat experience during World War II. The military transport aircraft that he was on during a spying mission to Australia reportedly came under fire from Japanese fighters.

Richard Nixon
Commander, U.S. Navy Reserve
World War II veteran

Gerald Ford
Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Navy Reserve
Served on the legendary USS Monterey in the Pacific Theater with the Third and Fifth Fleets during World War II

George H.W. Bush
Lieutenant, US Navy Reserve
Flew the Grumman TBM Avenger in World War II
Shot down during a bombing mission near Chichi-jima, Japan. Was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (for “heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight”)

Presidents In Uniform


Thomas Jefferson
Non-commissioned officer of the Virginia militia (rank of Colonel)

James Madison
Colonel of Continental Army during the American Revolution

James Polk
Colonel, Tennessee State Militia

Millard Fillmore
Major, New York Guard
Served during the Mexican–American War

Abraham Lincoln
Captain, Illinois State Militia
Served during the Black Hawk War, but did not engage in combat

Chester Arthur
Brigadier General, New York Guard
Colonel, 9th New York Volunteer Infantry Regimen

Jimmy Carter
Lieutenant, U.S. Naval Academy
Was a specialist on nuclear reactors

Ronald Reagan
Second Lieutenant, U.S Army (Officers Reserve Corps of the Cavalry)
Captain, Army Air Force (First Motion Picture Unit)
Responsible for producing over 400 training films for the Army

George W. Bush
First Lieutenant, Texas Air National Guard

Civilian Presidents


John Adams (Chairman, Board of War in the Revolutionary War; equivalent to Secretary of Defense )
John Quincy Adams
Martin Van Buren
Grover Cleveland
William Taft
Woodrow Wilson
Warren Harding
Calvin Coolidge
Herbert Hoover
Franklin Roosevelt
Bill Clinton
Barack Obama






 

 

2012 Republican Presidential Nominee
Former Governor of Massachusetts

Mitt Romney

Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney

Romney Military Service

Mitt Romney has never served in the military.

• Before joining college, Romney had received a deferment from the draft as a Mormon 'minister of religion' for the duration of his missionary work in France, which lasted two and a half years. At the time, there was an agreement of sorts between the church and the Selective Service allowing exemptions from the draft for missionaries. Before and after his missionary deferment, Romney also received nearly three years of deferments for his academic studies.

• In April 1965, Romney registered with the Selective Service but was not considered readily available for military service until December 1970. When he became eligible for military service in 1970, he drew a high number in the annual draft lottery and at that time no one drawing higher than 195 was drafted.

More on Romney  



 
2012 Republican Vice-Presidential Nominee
U.S. Representative from Wisconsin

Paul Ryan

Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan

Ryan Military Service

Ryan has never served in the military.

More on Ryan  



 


 

 

Declared 2012 Republican Presidential Candidate


Kathyern Lane

Presidential Candidate Kathyern Lane

Lane Military Service

Ex-military spouse

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Declared 2012 Republican Presidential Candidate
U.S. Representative from the State of Texas

Ron Paul

Presidential Candidate Ron Paul

Paul Military Service

• Ron Paul believes that military service helps the country and is personally rewarding.

• He served as a USAF flight surgeon in the 60’s.

• Following his Air Force service, Paul enlisted in the Air National Guard from 1965 to 1968.

More on Paul  



 
Declared 2012 Republican Presidential Candidate


Matt Snyder

Presidential Candidate Matt Snyder

Snyder Military Service

Regretfully, none

More on Snyder  



 
Declared 2012 Republican Presidential Candidate
Businessman

Vern Wuensche

Presidential Candidate Vern Wuensche

Wuensche Military Service

• Joined United States Army Reserve in 1968 and was trained as an enlisted man in Fort Jackson, South Carolina and Fort Gordon, Georgia. He became Specialist Forth Class. His training was as a radio teletype operator and in Morse Code.

More on Wuensche  



 
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