17 wild facts about the Vietnam War - We Are The Mighty
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17 wild facts about the Vietnam War

The American experience in Vietnam was a long and painful one for the nation. For those against the war, it appeared to be a meat grinder for draftees, unfairly targeting the poor, the uneducated, and minorities. For those in favor of the war and those who served in the military at the time, the American public and media were (and still are) misled about what happened during the war and so feel betrayed by many at home (Jane Fonda is the enduring symbol of the cultural schism).


 

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War

Jane Fonda (via Dutch National Archives)

The facts not in dispute by either side are just as harrowing: Over 20 years, more than 58,000 Americans were killed in Vietnam and more than 150,000 wounded, not to mention the emotional toll the war took on American culture. The war ended the Presidency of Lyndon Johnson and left a lasting impression on Richard Nixon’s. It was the backbone to the most tumultuous period in American history since before the Civil War one century prior.

The other facts are not so clear. We are at the fifty year mark for the start of the war, so soon more and more government documents from the period will be declassified. We will learn a great deal about this time in American history. Right now, however, the misinformation, cover-ups, and confusion about Vietnam still pervade our national consciousness. Right now, we can only look back at the war and take stock of what we know was real and what was B.S. from day one.

1. The U.S. first got involved in Vietnam in 1954

Sort of. The official line is the United States sent only supplies and advisors before 1965. Looking back before the fall of French Indochina, Vietnam’s colonial name, the end of World War II saw a briefly independent Democratic Republic of Vietnam under President Ho Chi Minh. Minh even gave a nod to the visiting American OSS agents by paraphrasing the Declaration of Independence in his own Independence speech: “All men are created equal. The Creator has given us certain inviolable rights, the right to life, the right to be free, and the right to achieve happiness.”

Almost as soon as Minh realized the Western allies were going to restore French rule, Chinese advisors and Soviet equipment began to flow to North Vietnamese guerillas. After the Vietnamese Gen. Võ Nguyên Giáp handed the French their asses at Dien Bien Phu, the French left and Vietnam would be split in two. In 1954, an insurgency sprang up, but was quelled by the government of the new South Vietnam, led by Ngô Dình Diem. Unfortunately Diem was as dictatorial as Ho Chi Minh and as Catholic as the Spanish Inquisition.

2. U.S. and South Vietnamese Presidents were shot in 1963, and this would be significant

They were also both Catholic, but that’s where the similarities end. This also may be the death of coherent containment strategy in the country. Diem was shot in an armored personnel carrier on November 2, 1963. At the time, there were 16,000 U.S. advisors in Vietnam. President Kennedy was said to be shocked at the news. Then-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara said he “had never seen the President more upset.” Both men knew the U.S. government was responsible “to some degree.”

The Pentagon Papers leak explicitly stated the U.S. clandestinely maintained contact with Diem over-throwers and the U.S. government gave the generals in Vietnam the green light to start planning a coup. Twenty days later, Kennedy would himself be shot in the back of a vehicle.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War

3. Kennedy wanted to get the U.S. military out of Vietnam but couldn’t figure out how

President Kennedy was a fervent believer in the policy of containment and believed in the Domino Theory, but not so much as to wage unending war with the Communists in Vietnam. During his Presidency, he and McNamara actively pursued a way to leave Vietnam, while still maintaining their commitment to a free South through financial support and training. Kennedy wanted all U.S. personnel out by the end of 1965.

Many people refute this theory using a quote Kennedy gave Walter Cronkite: “These people who say we ought to withdraw from Vietnam are totally wrong, because if we withdrew from Vietnam, the communists would control… all of Southeast Asia… then India, Burma would be next.” The only problem with this quote is while Kennedy was in office, there was no open warfare in Vietnam and U.S. involvement was limited. Their strategy was to bring the North to heel using strategic bombing and limited ground attacks. Recordings between Kennedy and McNamara were since released to attest to their efforts in getting out of Vietnam.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
Library of Congress photo

4. The Gulf of Tonkin Incident only sort of happened.

The Gulf of Tonkin Incident is the catalyst for the escalation of American action in Vietnam. It refers to two incidents in August 1964. On August 2, the destroyer USS Maddox was shelled by NVA torpedo boats. The Maddox responded by firing over 280 rounds in return. There was no official response from the Johnson Administration.

The pressure mounted however, with members of the military, both in and out of uniform, implying Johnson was a coward. On August 4th the second incident was said to have happened, but Secretary McNamara admitted in Errol Morris’ 2003 documentary The Fog of War the second attack never occurred. The Pentagon Papers even implied the Maddox fired first in an effort to keep the Communists a certain distance away.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War

The resulting Gulf of Tonkin resolution passed by the U.S. Congress allowed Johnson to deploy conventional (ground) U.S. troops and operate in a state of open but undeclared war against North Vietnam.

5. The U.S. didn’t lose the war on the ground

But we didn’t win every battle, either. The North Vietnamese Army (NVA) can’t be faulted for lack of dedication, patriotism, or leadership. NVA Gen. Võ Nguyên Giáp orchestrated successive defeats of the Japanese and the French. Even Death had a hard time finishing off Giáp – he lived to 102. It also can’t be faulted for a lack of organization. The NVA was a professional fighting force, organized under Soviet guidance. The VC were forced to use inferior equipment because the Chinese would swipe the good weapons and replace them with cheap Chinese knockoffs.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
NVA Troops with Chinese SAM launcher (USAF Photo)

Outmanned and outgunned, the NVA was beaten by U.S. troops in nearly every major battle. The myth of the U.S. never losing a single battle inexplicably persists (unless you were stationed at Fire Support Base Ripcord, outnumbered 10-to-1 for 23 days in 1970). Not as improbable, no U.S. unit ever surrendered in Vietnam.

Despite initial victories, the infamous Tet Offensive was a major defeat for the Communists. It resulted in the death of some 45,000 NVA troops and the decimation of Viet Cong elements in South Vietnam. The Tet Offensive succeeded on only one front: the media (more on that later). Saigon fell on April 30, 1975, two years after the Paris Peace Accords and after the American military left Vietnam. The last American troops departed in their entirety on March 29, 1973.

6. The M-16 sucked so hard, U.S. troops preferred the AK-47

Gen. William Westmoreland, Commander of U.S. Forces in Vietnam, replaced the M-14 rifle with the new M-16 as the standard issue infantry rifle in the middle of 1966. There was no fanfare. The first generation of the M-16 rifle was an awful mess with a tendency to experience a “failure to extract” jam in the middle of a firefight. They sucked so hard, the Army was hammered by Congress in 1967 for delivering such a terrible rifle system and then failing to properly train troops to use it.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
Photo from Anonymous Former Officer

So what to do? Pick up the enemy’s weapon. We already talked about why the AK-47 is so widely used. It’s better than dying for lack of shooting back. In Vietnam, an underground market developed among troops who didn’t trust their M-16. “Q: Why are you carrying that rifle, Gunny?” “A: Because it works.”

7. The Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) — aka South Vietnam — wasn’t all bad

The ARVN troops get mixed reviews from the Americans who fought with them. Most judge ARVN units on their leadership, which was definitely mixed. In the end, the South Vietnamese ran out of fuel, ammunition and other supplies because of a lack of support from the U.S. Congress in 1975, while the North Vietnamese were very well supplied by China and the Soviet Union.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
ARVN Rangers defend Saigon during the Tet Offensive (DOD Photo)

8. The North Vietnamese Air Force was actually a pretty worthy adversary

Vietnam-era pilot and Hanoi Hilton POW was once asked on a Reddit AMA how good the NVAF fighter pilots were. His response: “The got me, didn’t they?” This is anecdotal evidence, but more exists. The Navy’s Top Gun strike fighter tactics school was founded to respond to the loss rate of 1 aircraft for every thousand sorties during Operation Rolling Thunder, a lot considering the combined 1.8 million sorties flown over Vietnam.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
The NVAF’s top ace, Nguyen Van Coc

At war’s end, the top ace in North Vietnam had nine kills, compared to the U.S.’ top ace, who had six. The U.S. could only boast three aces (ace status requires at least five air-to-air kills), while the NVAF boasted 17.

9. It wasn’t only the U.S. and South Vietnam

Australia and New Zealand also fought in Vietnam, but the largest contingent of anti-Communist forces came from South Korea. Korean President Syngman Rhee wanted to send troops to help the Vietnamese as early as 1954. More than 300,000 Korean troops would fight in Vietnam, inflicting more than 41,000 casualties, while massacring almost 5,000 Vietnamese civilians.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
Soldiers of the ROK 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam. Photo by Phillip Kemp.

10. The draft didn’t unfairly target the working class or minorities

The demographics of troops deployed to Vietnam were close to a reflection of the demographics of the U.S. at the time. 88.4% of troops deployed to Vietnam were Caucasian, 10.6% were African-American and 1% were of other races. The 1970 census estimated the African-American population of the U.S. at 11%.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War

A wounded soldier is helped to a waiting helicopter by two of his comrades  near Near Tay Ninh, South Vietnam,  November 1966 (Stars Stripes)

76% of those who served did come from working-class backgrounds but this was a time when most troops had at least a high school education, compared with enlisted men of wars past, among whom only half held a high school diploma. Wealthier families could enroll in college for a draft deferement, but even so …

11. A majority of the men who fought in Vietnam weren’t drafted — they volunteered

More than three-quarters of the men who fought in Vietnam volunteered to join the military. Of the roughly 8.7 million troops who served in the military between 1965 and 1973, only 1.8 million were drafted. 2.7 million of those in the military fought in Vietnam at this time. Only 25% of that 2.7 million were drafted and only 30% of the combat deaths in the war were draftees.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
Indiana University Archives

12. The war was not exclusively a jungle war

At the start, the South and allied forces were fighting Viet Cong insurgents in the jungle, but as time wore on, the battles became more set piece, complete with tanks and artillery. For example in 1972, the NVA Eastertide Offensive was the largest land movement since the Chinese entered the Korean War, crossing the Yalu river. The Eastertide Offensive was a planned, coordinated three-pronged invasion of the South, consisting of 12 divisions.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
USMC Photo

13. The Vietnam War was only sort of lost in the American media

The most famous quote attributed to President Johnson (aside from “Frank, are you trying to F–k me?” and “I do not seek and will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as President”) is “If I’ve lost Walter Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.” Whether or not he actually said this is only important to fans of Walter Cronkite, who was then considered the most trusted man in America.

Until 1968, much of the American media was widely a mouthpiece for American policy and not one newspaper suggested disengagement from Vietnam. But things would get worse. A 1965 Gallup poll showed only 28% of Americans were against the war, 37% in 1967, 50% in 1968, 58% in 1969, In 1971, Gallup stopped asking. The 1968 Tet Offensive is what led Cronkite to see the war as “unwinnable.” Veterans of Vietnam widely attribute the success of the Tet Offensive as a success only in the media. The media they’re referring to is Walter Cronkite.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War

Yet, it’s not that cut and dry. A 1986 analysis of the media and Vietnam found the reporting of the Tet Offensive actually rallied American media to the Vietnam War effort. The Tet Offensive was a defining moment in public trust of the government reports on the progress of the war. Americans had no idea the VC were capable of infiltrating allied installations the way they did and many were unaware of the extent of the brutality and tactics of the war, but the Tet Offensive allowed American television cameras to record the bombing of cities and the execution of prisoners of war.

The tide of public opinion turned “for complex social and political reasons” and the media began to reflect that, according to the Los Angeles Times. “In short, the media did not lead the swing in public opinion; they followed it.”

New York Times White House correspondent Tom Wicker remarked: “We had not yet been taught to question the President.” Maybe the turn in public opinion had more to do with fatigue surrounding almost a decade of body counts and draft lotteries.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
Cronkite with Marines in Vietnam (USMC Photo)

14. Richard Nixon ended the war — but invaded Cambodia first

President Nixon’s “Vietnamization” strategy involved a gradual drawdown of U.S. troops, and a bolstering of ARVN forces with modern equipment, technology, and the training to use it. It also involved plans to help garner support for the Saigon government in the provinces and strengthen the government’s political positions.

In 1970, he authorized incursions into Cambodia and massive bombings of Cambodia and Laos to keep pressure on the North while Vietnamization began. This prompted massive public protests in the United States. As U.S. troop numbers dwindled (69,000 in 1972), NVA attacks like the 1972 Eastertide Offensive showed the overall weakness of ARVN troops.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War

15. Vietnam Veterans are not mostly crazy, homeless, drug users

There is no difference in drug usage between Vietnam Veterans and non-Vietnam Veterans of the same age group. 97% of Vietnam vets hold honorable discharges and 85% of Vietnam Veterans made successful transitions to civilian life. The unemployment rate for Vietnam vets was only 4.8% in 1987, compared to the 6.2% rate for the rest of America.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
The truth is less like Lt. Dan, more like Gary Sinise

16. The Communists do not still hold POW/MIAs

Many cite “evader signals’ on satellite imagery of Vietnam as evidence of the continued imprisonment of American prisoners of war (POW). If POWs were still held in 1973, it is very likely they are long since dead. Those hypothetical withheld POWs who did not die of old age would never be repatriated to the U.S.

More than 600 MIA suddenly found in Hanoi would be very difficult to explain. The fact is, North Vietnam had no reason to continue to hold American captives. The Americans would not return and the North violated the Paris Accords anyway.

17. Today, most Vietnamese people see the U.S. very favorably

It’s true.

NOW: The Real Story of Jane Fonda and the Vietnam Vets Who Hate Her

OR: This Marine Was the ‘American Sniper’ of the Vietnam War

Lists

21 Pulitzer Prize-winning photos that capture the essence of war

These 21 images (shared with WATM courtesy of Lou Reda Productions) vividly capture the nature of war from a variety of angles. Each of them was awarded the Pulitzer prize for photography in the year indicated in the caption:


1944 – Aftermath of a flamethrower attack on Tarawa

 

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
(Photo: Frank Filan, Associated Press)

1944 – Lt. Col. Robert Moore, USA, returns to his family after fighting the Germans in North Africa

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
(Photo: Earle Bunker, The Omaha World-Herald)

1945 – The flag raising at Iwo Jima

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
(Photo: Joe Rosenthal, Associated Press)

1951 – Refugees fleeing across the Taedong River during the Chinese invasion of North Korea

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
(Photo: Max Desfor, Associated Press)

1965 – South Vietnamese casualties after a firefight with the Vietcong

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
(Photo: Horst Faas, Associated Press)

1966 – Vietnamese refugees fleeing an attack

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
(Photo: Kyoichi Sawada, United Press International)

1969 – Lt. Col. Nguyen Loan summarily executes a VC prisoner on the streets of Saigon

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
(Photo: Eddie Adams, Associated Press)

1972 – Marine on top of a war-torn hill after battle with NVA

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
(Photo: David Hume, United Press International)

1973 – Vietnamese children fleeing after napalm attack on Vietcong-held village

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
(Photo: Nick Ut, Associated Press)

1974 – Lt. Col Robert Stirm, USAF, returns to his family after 5 years as a POW in North Vietnam

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
(Photo: Sal Veder, Associated Press)

1977 – Vietnam veteran and wounded warrior Eddie Robinson at Chattanooga Veterans Day parade

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
(Photo: Robin Hood, The Chattanooga News Free Press)

1978 – American mercenary, member of “Grey’s Scouts,” holds gun to the head of a Rhodesian prisoner

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
(Photo: J. Ross Baughman, Associated Press)

1980 – Iranian Republican Guardsmen executing Kurdish rebels

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
(Photo, UPI)

1995 – American Marine trying to keep Haitian rioters at bay during unrest

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
(Photo: Carol Guzy, The Washington Post)

2002 – B-52 contrails during bombing mission over Afghanistan

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
(Photo: The New York Times)

2004 – Soldiers jumping into ditch in Iraq

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
(Photo – Cheryl Diaz Meyer and David Leeson, Dallas Morning News)

2004 – Soldiers taking Iraqi prisoner

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
(Photo: Cheryl Diaz Meyer and David Leeson, Dallas Morning News)

2004 – Iraqi schoolboy proclaims his freedom

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
(Photo: Cheryl Diaz Meyer and David Leeson, Dallas Morning News)

2005 – Marine taking an Iraqi insurgent prisoner in Fallujah

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
(Photo: Associated Press)

2005 – Marines huddle over wounded comrade during fighting in Anbar Province

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
(Photo: Associated Press)

2006 – Katherine Cathey spends the night next to the casket of her fallen husband, 2nd Lt. James Cathey, USMC

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
(Photo: Todd Heisler, Rocky Mountain News)

 

These images and many other iconic shots can be found in Moments, The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photographs, A Visual Chronicle of Our Time (Hal Buell, Tess Press).

Humor

4 types of recruiters you’ll meet at the mall

Recruiters are well-practiced in convincing young adults that military service is the best option to propel them into a happy, successful future. We’ve all seen the recruiting posters that show off a mighty lookin’ Marine or a tough soldier and we’ve all seen the highly polished ads on TV, but nothing beats the personal touch of a skilled recruiter.

Some recruiters will travel miles to find young prospects and get them interested in military service. However, there’s one place where you’ll find almost always youngsters in nearly any town — the freakin’ mall.

Shopping malls are the ultimate grounds for recruiters to swoop in and scoop up their next contract. Every recruiter is different, but we’re willing to bet that if you enlisted at a mall, you ran into one of these four archetypes:


17 wild facts about the Vietnam War

That’s right, you better stand at modified parade rest.

(Photo by Andrea Stone)

The one who expects you to have some military bearing

Some recruiters are laid back, but others take a more aggressive approach and instruct potential recruits on the proper way to speak as an active service member.

You might think that being stern and strict would turn the younger crowd away, but, to our surprise, that rigid military bearing is exactly what some want.

He’s good at his

The one who is good with parents

Joining the military is a big decision. The fact is that many youngsters aren’t accustomed to making such important choices.

A smart recruiter knows that nothing is more reassuring than a parent’s good word. So, you’ll likely find a recruiter whose best work is done schmoozing with mom and dad.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War

If you join today, you might get to drive a government car, just like me.

The parking lot patroller

Mall recruiters aren’t just on the hunt for window shoppers. Nope! They’re out searching for you before you even step foot inside the shopping center. They pretend like they’ve met you before to strike up a conversation. It’s all a tactic to get you into their office.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War

Sure you could join the Air Force, but you won’t look as cool in their uniform.

The reverse psychologist

Recruiters are up against monthly quotas. In order to make their numbers, they need to use every tool in their kit. This means finding a way to beat out the other branches in the event that two are scoping the same potential recruit. Some recruiters will use reverse psychology on you, making sly like, “you probably couldn’t handle the Marines anyway.”

Some will see right through it, but others feel compelled to prove people wrong.

Lists

The 6 ways troops tried to counter tanks when they first appeared

The very first tanks in combat rolled across the plains of Europe on Sep. 15, 1916, at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. Allied tank power only grew from there. Since the Germans most commonly found themselves on the receiving end of tank warfare, they were the ones who improvised the first responses. Here’s what they came up with:


1. Flame throwers

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
Flamethrowers at an Army show in New Orleans in 1942. Photo: National Archives

Flamethrowers were typically used after a tank suffered a mobility kill. A soldier with a flamethrower would approach the tank and order the crew to surrender before killing them if they didn’t. In some cases, soldiers would approach operational tanks and attempt to burn out the crew.

2. Reversed bullets

While standard rounds were nearly useless against tanks, Germans found that modifying their ammunition would let them kill tank crews at short ranges. First, the projectile was removed from the cartridge. Then, more powder was added and the projectile was put back on the cartridge backwards, with the point to the rear and the blunt side of the projectile forward.

When the rounds struck a tank at close range, they could dent in the armor with enough force that the armor would spit shrapnel into the crew area, killing and injuring the soldiers. Frequent misfires were reported though, so the Germans eventually invented armor piercing rounds.

3. Targeted artillery and mortar attacks

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
Photo: German Imperial War Museum

Artillery in World War could engage tanks with either howitzers, field guns, or mortars. Howitzers and mortars are traditionally fired “high-angle,” where they fire a shell into the air so that it falls on enemy targets, piercing the top armor when they hit tanks. In some cases, especially with mortars, desperate crews would “direct fire” their weapons at tanks.

Field guns were typically shot in direct fire mode, pointing the weapon at the enemy and attempting to punch through its hull with the force of the round. At first the German field guns only had high explosive rounds that could score mobility kills, but they eventually got armor piercing rounds that could destroy the target entirely.

4. Grenades

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Daderot

Because they were already handy, grenades were some of the first weapons pressed into anti-tank warfare. While a single grenade was unlikely to destroy a tank, it could achieve a mobility kill by breaking the treads.

Later, stick grenades would be bundled together and tossed at oncoming enemy tanks. When everything went well, the combined explosive force of the grenades would break through the hull.

5. Tank obstacles

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
A British tank straddles a trench in 1916. Significantly wider trenches could stop tanks. Photo: Imperial War Museums

While tanks are the ultimate all-terrain vehicle, it’s still possible to carve the land so that tanks can’t roll over it. While thin trenches could be crossed with ease, very wide trenches were impassable for tanks and the Germans began digging accordingly.

6. Anti-tank rifles

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
Photo: Imperial War Museums

The German Mauser 1918 T-Gewehr fired a large, 13.2 mm round with a steel core at 785 meters per second, easily piercing the tank armor of the day. Unfortunately, they were developed too late and in too few numbers to stem the Allied tank advance.

NOW: Here’s what life is like for US Army tankers

Lists

5 insane things about North Korea’s legal system

Here in America, land of the free, when we hear news about North Korea, it further reinforces our desire to never step foot in the reclusive nation. All the negative press that comes from within the DPRK has us sure that it’s the worst place to live — ever.

It has been run by Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un since 2012 and, under his rule and the regimes of his father and grandfather, many rules and regulations have been put in place to control the people that call the country home. Many countries around the world have laws that must be enforced — usually for good reason — but some of North Korea’s laws seem to defy both reason and ethics.

To give you a little taste of the hermit kingdom’s skewed sense of justice, we’ve compiled a list of some the most insane legal aspects of North Korea.


17 wild facts about the Vietnam War

Pyongyang, North Korea.

You need legal approval to live in the city

If you’re rich and powerful, chances are you’ve already been approved to live in Pyongyang — the largest city in the country. If you’re poor as f*ck, then good luck ever getting a taste of your nation’s capital city. The government must approve of all the citizens seeking to call Pyongyang home.

Weed is legal

We came across this shocker while doing our research. According to a few North Korean defectors, marijuana can be purchased at local markets and you can watch it grow in nearby fields. Who would’ve thought a country ruled by an authoritarian would permit such a thing?

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War

Their hair cuts are regulated

North Korea isn’t known for being fashion-forward. In fact, the people who reside in the strict country may only select from a number of predetermined hairstyles when it comes time to get a cut. It’s said that the government only allows people to sport one of 28 different styles.

If you don’t comply, you face serious penalties. That’s right, people. North Korea has actual fashion police.

You must vote

In most countries, voting is a right. In North Korea, voting is mandatory. If you don’t, you face severe punishment. Elections are held every five years and the same family always seems to win.

Seems legit…

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War

Commit a crime, you and your family could do the time

In most countries, only those that commit the crime are punished. North Korea, however, goes a few steps further. To send the message that the country won’t tolerate any lawbreakers, the government can imprison an offender’s entire family for their actions.

In fact, they can send up to three generations of a family to the big house for a single crime.

Articles

5 movies to avoid before deployment (especially if you’re infantry)

Hollywood loves to make old fashion bloody war movies that have plenty of entertaining explosions and dramatic death scenes. While entertaining, these can hit pretty close to home for someone who’s been in the fight.


Related: 5 crazy Hollywood hazing scenes that probably happened

The graphic ones can be particularly realistic, but no matter what, they all represent the sucktitude of war.

Here are five you may want to stay away from before deploying to a combat zone.

1. Saving Private Ryan

Known as one of the most authentic and gruesome openings to a film ever, this Steven Spielberg-directed classic put audiences inside the minds of war-hardened characters as they storm the beaches of Normandy.

I think that guy had eggs for breakfast. (Image by Giphy)

2. Casualties of War

Marty McFly, I mean Michael J. Fox, plays an Army soldier who is coerced by Sgt. Tony Meserve (Sean Penn) to take advantage of a Vietnamese hostage-turned-sex-slave. When he refuses, the whole squad turns against him.

We guess they missed those team building exercises stateside. (Image via Giphy)

3. Hamburger Hill

John Irvin’s 1987 war epic depicts one of the most disastrous friendly fire accidents in the military in the Vietnam war.

Could you imagine that sh*t. (Image via Giphy)

4. The Deer Hunter

Because no one wants to think about the dangers of being a prisoner of war and playing Russian roulette at the same time.

Ballsy. (Image via Giphy)

Also Read: 5 military myths that Hollywood has taught us to believe are true

5. Platoon

No one wants to get left behind and eventually gunned down by the bad guys.

WHY ME?! (Image via Giphy)

Bonus: Pearl Harbor

This is a good one if you join the service with a buddy. In Micheal Bay’s “Pearl Harbor,” two childhood friends join the military as pilots. As one is off fighting in an aerial dogfight, the other stays back keeping his girlfriend company — eventually knocking her up.

Spoiler alert — he takes about a half dozen bullets for his buddy to buy himself some redemption. That is all.

It’s actually a good way to make things even. (Image via Giphy)

Articles

11 reactions to seeing your relief show up after a long watch

Standing watch is important but could feel like a complete time suck for sailors. Here are 11 reactions sailors have when standing duty:


1. When you see your name twice on the watch bill back-to-back.

2. Not all watches are bad. Sometimes they feel like a break.

3. Watch turns into “relief lookout” 30 minutes away from your scheduled end time.

4. When you confirm the approaching sailor is your relief.

5. Calm down gung ho sailor. He didn’t get to his watch early by choice.

6. Standing an easy “balls to eight” watch (midnight to 8:00 AM) on a Friday morning feels like a three-day weekend for sailors that are not deployed.

*Sailors who work before having a watch during this time slot typically have the rest of the day off to recover.

7.  Here’s the typical reaction to the end of a balls to eight watch during the week.

8. When everything goes according to schedule.

9. When your relief doesn’t show up on time.

10. How you feel when your relief finally shows up after being late.

11. When you fly under the radar.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War

NOW: 5 differences between the Navy and the Coast Guard

OR: The 11 stages of leaving the Navy

Lists

6 things CIF wants back that make no sense

When you first enlist and are given loads of new gear, it’s a pretty great feeling — until you realize that you’ll have to return most of it eventually. Not all of it, but most. Obviously, you keep your well-worn and dirty uniforms and plenty of small, inconsequential things, like IR beacons.

Although each Central Issuing Facility of each branch at each duty station as their own standard operating procedures, in general, they all follow a guideline of “if it’s touched a troop’s skin or it’s basically worthless, then the troop keeps it.” But if you stop and think about it, what doesn’t get dirty and worn just from regular use?


With that in mind, here’s a rundown of things that would be better off left in a troop’s hands as they head into the civilian world — or to their next duty station.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War

I mean, you guys really want it THAT bad…

(Photo by Spc. Kristina Truluck)

Sleeping bag sets

Here’s a fact: The only way to get comfortable in one of these sleeping systems is to strip butt-naked so your body heat is evenly distributed. Still want it back?

These things get nasty after they’ve soaked in so much body odor and sweat that it’s like CIF asking for your field socks back.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War

No one wants to put their mouth on the Camelback that some nervous private was chewing on…

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Michel Sauret)

Camelback, canteens, and water systems

As you can imagine, these directly touch your mouth. If you’re required to return it, that means others returned it before you. Now, we’re sure it’s been cleaned time and time again, but we still can’t help but wonder about what kind of nasty germs have lived on it.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War

“Those would look so great as civilian attire!” said no veteran ever.

(Photo by Rob Schuette)

Outdated uniforms

It seems like every branch swaps out their service uniform faster than you can blink. Generally speaking, the military wants their old uniforms back before you can get a new set.

Just to toss salt on the already pointless wound, they’ll raise hell if the old uniform you’re turning in isn’t perfectly clean.. you know, for the next troop who definitely won’t be wearing it.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War

Even if you don’t spray paint it, it’ll still get worn the hell out.

(Photo by Spc. Brianna Saville)

Duffel bags with your name stenciled on

Duffel bags are cheap. They’re just a bit of canvas made into a bag. Everyone in the military has the exact same O.D. green bag, so units ask troops to spray paint their name, last 4, and unit onto the bottom.

Here’s the problem: that paint isn’t coming off any time soon. Good luck trying to find another “Milzarski” in that that exact same unit after I leave.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War

What’s worse is when the CIF clerk gets hostile with you and questions you why parts are missing. Because, you know, we needed to save a life?

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Ciara Wymbs)

First-aid kits

Instead of asking troops to turn in a partly-used first-aid kit, why not let them keep it and stash it in their vehicle in case of emergencies? Sure, it puts the military out a whole (according to Amazon), but wouldn’t it be nice to have a bunch of medical supplies out there in the hands of people trained to use them?

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War

It’s really not uncommon for troops to just buy a cheapo woobie off-post at some surplus store…

(Photo by Spc. Kristina Truluck)

The poncho liner

There’s one item that every troop holds dear above the rest — their poncho liner, affectionately called a “woobie.”

Troops sleep with it, it’s fairly cheap, the camo pattern is quickly outdated, and they’re perfect for emergency situations. Long after troops get out, if they managed to sneak one past supply, they’ll cuddle up with it on the couch and fondly recall their service.

Articles

The 7 weirdest nuclear weapons ever developed

Nuclear weapons are in their own class, completely separate from every other kind of weapon in the arsenal. But, not all nuclear weapons are created equal. Here are the weirdest ones that saw service in the U.S. military.


1. Jeep-mounted recoilless rifle: the Davy-Crockett (1956)

The Davy Crockett had a 10 or 20-ton yield, depending on the type. There were two launchers for the Crockett, one of which would be mounted on Jeeps. Crocketts would be deployed with mortar platoons who would aim the weapons into Soviet troop and tank concentrations, poisoning the Russians with extreme levels of radiation within a quarter-mile radius of the point of impact.

2. Air-to-Air Missiles: AIR-2 Genie (1957) and AIM-26 Falcon (1961)

Before effective surface-to-air missiles or guided air-to-air missiles, America was looking for a way to shoot down large formations of enemy planes.

One idea was to fire an unguided air-to-air nuclear missile. Enter the AIR-2 Genie. Fielded in 1957, it was capable of being fired from an American fighter and the 1.5-kiloton blast was lethal to 300 meters. To prove to the American public that the missile could be safely detonated over American cities, a single Genie missile was detonated as five Air Force officers stood below it.

Four years later, a guided missile entered service. The AIM-26 was capable of a 250-ton nuclear explosion and chased its target using semi-active radar.

3. Nuclear torpedo: Mark 45 anti-submarine torpedo (1963)

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
Photo: Cliff, Wikimedia Commons

Designed to kill enemy subs, the Mark 45 was guided by wire. Triggering the 11-kiloton detonation required a command from the firing sub. The nearly 19-foot torpedo had a range of 5 to 8 miles.

4. Rockets: UUM-44 SUBROC (1963)

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The UUM-44 was a submarine-launched rocket that would exit a sub, ignite its rocket engine, leave the water and fly to a predetermined point. There, the rocket would separate and the warhead would fall into the water as a depth charge, detonating at a programmed depth and killing enemy subs. With its 5-kiloton nuclear warhead, the SUBROC wasn’t really worried with direct hits.

5. Land mine: atomic demolition munitions (1964)

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
Photo: DoD

Though commonly referred to as nuclear land mines, ADMs were really designed as area denial weapons where the bombs would be detonated ahead of advancing troops, triggering rockslides and poisoning the environment. Special versions could also be dropped behind enemy lines with two-man teams who would use the bombs to destroy ports, power plants, or communications hubs. Since they could be remotely detonated, the ADMs could be used as mines as long as a human stayed within the remote’s range and waited for the advancing enemy. They had a nuclear yield between .5 and 15 kilotons.

6. Artillery: M65 Atomic Cannon (1953) and M198 (1963)

There were a variety of nuclear artillery shells in the U.S. arsenal (China, India, and Pakistan still have them), most of them arrived in the field between 1953 and 1963. Initial models were like the M65 in the video, large-caliber rounds with large warheads delivering 15-20 kilotons of boom. The nuclear punch got smaller as smaller rounds were developed, ending with a 155mm round that delivered 72-ton yield.

7. Cryogenically-cooled bombs: Mark 16 (1954)

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Mark 16 only served in an emergency capacity from January 1954 to April 1954. Based on the designs of the first thermonuclear bomb ever fired, the Ivy Mike, the bombs contained deuterium that had to be constantly cooled to below -238 Fahrenheit. They delivered 6-8 megatons (a megaton is 1,000 kilotons) of destruction, but were rendered obsolete by the successful testing of solid fuel thermonuclear bombs that didn’t require cooling.

NOW: 16 celebs who grew up as military brats

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Lists

8 tips and tricks to get better at ruck marching

The one exercise that will never leave the military is also the one exercise that requires the most thought. Push-ups? Just find a good form and knock them out. Runs? Just get a good pair of shoes and be fast.


But ruck marching, especially if you’re going over 12 miles, takes more brains than brawn.

If you’re still in or looking forward to Bataan Memorial Death March, this helpful guide will help get you through a ruck march.

Preparation:

1. Carry heavier weights higher in the pack.

The problem most people have with ruck marching is the weight of their pack dragging them down after the first mile. The lower the weight hangs, the more effort it requires. It also causes more knee and back pain, which means more visits to the doc and, eventually, the VA if done incorrectly.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
Bring the weight up to your shoulders, not your hips (Photo by Sgt. Patrick Eakin)

2. Always use your best boots, but not the fancy boots.

The best boots are the ones that will give your feet and ankles the best support. The standard-issue boots are actually very good in this respect. Funnily enough, the “high-speed tacticool” boots that everyone seems to buy are actually far worse for your feet on longer ruck marches.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
And don’t be that fool who wears the nice boots they regularly wear in uniform. They’ll get dirty fast. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Molly Hampton)

3. Anti-chafing powder and good underwear.

Common sense says that your feet will chafe, but what some people don’t get is that there are also other parts of the body that will rub against itself.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
I mean, unless you’re comfortable with that rash and awkward conversations with medics… (Photo by Capt. Michael Merrill)

4. Wear a good pair of socks and keep more on standby.

When it comes to socks, you’ll want to spend a little extra money to get some good pairs. Make sure you bring plenty durable, moisture-wicking socks, because you’ll need to change them constantly.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
Every stop. No exceptions. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Danny Gonzalez)

During the Ruck:

5. Don’t run.

If you do find yourself slowing down or getting left behind, take longer strides instead of running.

If you run, you’ll smack the weight of your pack against your spine and exhaust way too much energy to get somewhere slightly faster. Practice that “range walk” that your drill sergeant/instructor got on your ass to learn.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
Just find a good pace and stick with the unit. (Photo by Spc. Jonathan Wallace)

6. Daydream.

Pretend you’re somewhere else. Think about literally anything other than the weight on your back or your feet hitting the ground. The hardest part of a ruck march should only be the first quarter mile — everything after that just flies by.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War

7. Plenty of water, protein and fruits.

There is nothing more important on a ruck march than water. Keep drinking, even if you’re not thirsty. Drink plenty of water before the march, plenty of water during, and plenty of water after the march.

You’ll also lose tons of electrolytes along the way, so stock up on POG-gie bait (junk food) to help keep that water in your system.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War

After the Ruck:

8. Take care of your blisters.

Even if you follow all of this advice, you may still end up with blisters by the march’s end. Use some moleskin to help take care of them, crack open a cold one, and relax. You earned it.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War
We decided not to end this on a picture of blisters, so, you’re welcome, everyone-who-isn’t-a-medic-or-grunt. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Sgt. Audrey Hayes)

Lists

5 surprising advantages the infantry has over other fields

The infantry is an enigma. There are legitimate advantages to have the 03 or 11B military occupational specialty. There are also no-so-legit advantages for trigger pullers as well. Soldiers and Marines can put aside their branch rivalries and bond over their experiences in theater. The differences in conduct and promotions vary among the other jobs in the military. The advantages continue after their service if they choose to continue to work for the government.

1. The job has an element of prestige

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War

When a civilian asks what one does in the military and the response is infantry, they have a general idea of what we do. Grunts do not have to feel with the condescending, disappointed ‘oh’ when personnel other than grunts say they do a non-combat job. Sometimes civilians are just ignorant, they want immediate gratification. Forgive the civilian, they simply do not know what they do not know. When they meet a troop they want to hear you have a high speed, low drag occupation. Infantrymen do not have that problem.

When infantrymen retire as staff NCOs or officers there are jobs in the Department of Defense that are unofficially reserved just for them. Uncle Sam has a seat for those willing to continue their service to their country after their contracts have ended.

2. They shine brighter on promotion boards

When infantrymen switch military occupational specialties into other fields, they quickly climb the ranks. Their service records are more impressive, they’ve earned more awards, and they’ve lead troops in battle. Its hard to have a meritorious board not take any of that into consideration. When a former infantryman switches to a new field there is an expectation they will succeed – and they do. A both a non-infantry and grunt can check all the boxes, but the POG can’t deploy back in time to a time of war.

3. The way infantry junior troops respect seniors

When I was in the Marine Corps I joined with several friends during the surge. Together we covered different MOS: Infantry, engineer, airwin and cook. When we became noncomissioned officers it was night and day whose troop are whose. The cook’s behavior was borderline disrespectful compared to grunt juniors. It was far too casual for the likes of anyone in a line company. The engineers didn’t fair too much better but they at least took hierarchy a little more seriously. The air wingers are just weird.

In the end your juniors are a reflection of yourself. Some NCOs prefer a more relaxed environment while other prefer tact and instant obedience to orders. There is something missing from the way other fields react when being issued an order that just rubs grunts the wrong way.

4. Infantry Drill Instructors have a secret mafia

infantry

Similar to the advantage of switching to another MOS, infantrymen who go drill instructor have a whole other advantage to POGs. Becoming a drill instructor is a fraternity within a fraternity. When one observes the chain of command’s staff non commissioned officers, I will bet my last dollar most are former drill hats. The drill field is one bridge between grunts and others.

However, that same experience gives one an edge on promotion boards. So, while two E5s stationed at boot camp fulfill their billet commitment, infantrymen will be more bias to award the grunt. When that, now E6, returns to their MOS they will have that same favorable bias for becoming drill instructors. Think of it as the universe balancing itself out for years of slow promotions as a lower enlisted. Drill Instructors do a lot of work, so, it isn’t free chevrons by any means.

5. The MPs don’t roll by the barracks

An infantry barracks is a no man’s land for military police. They may show up occasionally but they will not patrol certain areas as if it was downtown Detroit. I vividly remember seeing a patrol car showing up to a non infantry barracks during weekend parties to establish a presence. Those MPs are absent during the debauchery unfolding at our barracks.

My first experience in the fleet was a battalion formation with a livid colonel chewing out everybody. Apparently, alpha company and charlie company’s rivalry escaladed into a unit wide brawl with reinforcements from bravo and weapons company. When the MPs showed up half naked Marines disarmed the MPs and beat them with their own batons. The commander’s main point was that just because the unit returned from Iraq doesn’t mean they can do whatever they want. There were no arrests because they could not get a single witness statement or detainees.

That was my second week in the fleet. I rarely saw MPs show up around our area throughout my career in the Corps. In the infantry there is a code of silence. It is true what they say, the infantry is the biggest gang in the world and the cops know it.

Lists

10 military spouses you should unfriend on Facebook immediately

Often, there comes a point when people decide to give their Facebook friends list an overhaul.

They completely change their social landscape online by avoiding accepting friend requests from certain types of people, and they give their current friends list a good, hard scrub.

Everyone has their reasons. Maybe they’re doing it for security purposes, or because a handful of people’s posts drive them crazy or they want to keep a more professional profile. Military spouses in particular might do so because they want to focus on positive, stress-free relationships – that is, the ones that bring wine, wear sweat pants, and check judgment at the door.


If you’re a military spouse considering an overhaul, these 10 characters are some of the folks who might not make the cut…

1. The Gossip

At first, reading The Gossip’s witty quips about annoying moms at Starbucks or fashion faux pas might be hilarious. Scrolling through The Gossip’s posts could be an easy way to burn an hour outside baseball practice… until you find yourself the subject of one of The Gossip’s posts.

For The Gossip, everything is fair game. When people listen to The Gossip, or “like” or comment on The Gossip’s posts, the rumor mill churns. And every milspouse knows that the rumor mill is pretty damaging – especially if you live on base. So, if you receive a friend request from The Gossip, think twice before clicking “Accept.”

2. The Negative Nancy

Sometimes we might like seeing The Negative Nancy in our feed. If we’re already down, her critical gaze on life’s horizon validates our own low feelings. But this is dangerous – beware! The more you read her negative posts, the more you’ll feel negative, depressed and weary. In fact, research shows that negative thoughts and emotions can reduce your brain’s ability to function effectively and even weaken your immune system.

That is the LAST thing you need when you’re holding down the home front during a deployment or a long TDY! Do yourself a favor: if The Negative Nancy’s posts are breeding the blues in your life, make the call: hit “Unfriend,” lift your chin up, and notice the sun rising on the horizon.

3. The Stranger

The Stranger piques your interest. Coming out of nowhere, The Stranger has something in common with you and might need help. Maybe The Stranger claims to be stationed at the same installation and needs help finding counseling for marital troubles. Since your profile says you work at Family Advocacy, The Stranger thinks you can help…

At this point, revert to every OPSEC (Operational Security) commercial you’ve ever seen and don’t respond (and tighten up your profile privacy). The Stranger is up to nothing but finding out military-related information or stealing money; you don’t want to take part in either one of those nightmares!

And, don’t be so sure that this scenario is far-fetched. A woman in Pensacola impersonated a military wife to trick service members and spouses into giving her money for supposedly sick children. It could happen on Facebook, too, and if it does, tuck your sympathy away and save it for a real friend who truly needs it.

4. The Selfie Addict

The Selfie Addict manages to capture herself (okay, or himself) in the most attractive poses, accentuating her most beautiful features, against the most impressive landscapes. And remarkably, she captures said images ALL. THE. TIME.

Looking through her series of carefully crafted selfies, you might start to believe (erroneously) that her whole life is perfect; worse, you might make comparisons to your own life and decide it’s pretty dull. Research shows that these comparisons can chisel away at your self-esteem and it’s all for nothing! Perfection is an illusion, after all. Hit “Unfriend,” and focus on relationships that are real and meaningful instead.

5. The Soapboxer

The Soapboxer can’t stop ranting. Whether it’s something going on in the local community, the government, the war or the nation, The Soapboxer has an opinion and feels compelled to share the details. What’s worse, if you post a comment that disagrees just a bit, The Soapboxer will drill into it and make you feel like complete mush for sharing your voice. There’s no room for respectful debate here!

Much like Negative Nancy, The Soapboxer has a way of creating unnecessary stress and frustration. If that’s what The Soapboxer is doing in your life, it’s a signal to end your virtual relationship. After all, you’ve got a PCS to plan for, a deployment on the horizon, and a surprise visit from Murphy – there’s no time to waste stressing over The Soapboxer.

6. The Ex

Friending The Ex might be tempting. Perhaps Facebook recommended The Ex in “People You May Know,” so, out of curiosity, you skimmed unsecured photos and posts. And now you’re inclined to send a friend request. We’re all adults, so it couldn’t hurt, right? Wrong!

Distance has a way of magnifying worries. If your service member is deployed or TDY for a long time, he or she doesn’t need the added worry or stress of seeing The Ex’s comments on your posts or photos. Even if you think the connection is totally harmless, think of your service member and nix the virtual friendship.

7. The Acquaintance

It’s become common practice to meet someone briefly at a party or barbeque, only to find a friend request hours later. Regardless of whether or not The Acquaintance knows a friend of yours, pause before accepting the friend request.

Honestly, what do you really know about The Acquaintance? How will a Facebook relationship deepen your relationship? Odds are, it’s only going to invite snooping – snooping from a person you barely know. Would you invite a mere acquaintance to come into your home and dig through your photo albums and drawers containing other personal information while you’re not home? No? Didn’t think so. Friending The Acquaintance on Facebook isn’t much different. So, wait till you meet The Acquaintance a few more times before you are comfortable enough to leave him or her in your “home” unsupervised.

8. The Judge

If there’s one thing military spouses know, it’s that time is important. When our service members are about to deploy, all of our focus is directed at spending meaningful time with them. That usually comes at the expense of time spent with others, and it can mean declining invitations from close friends.

Most friends understand this, but The Judge does not. If you decline an invitation and later post a selfie of your family relaxing at home, The Judge might comment, “Looks like you weren’t so busy after all.” Or, if you opt out of a lunch date so that you can FaceTime with your deployed service member, only to post later that you’re “feeling sad” because you never got to talk to him, The Judge will comment, “You should have just come to lunch!”

Military spouses are under enough pressure to hold down the home front, keep day-to-day operations running smoothly and support our service members who endure high-stakes careers; we don’t need the added stress of feeling the need to please The Judge. Unfriend!

9. The Drama Queen

When you think of The Drama Queen, think of one word: Perception. Virtual relationships with The Drama Queen could reflect poorly on you, too, because her personal drama might end up appearing on your Facebook page. The Drama Queen might comment on your posts with inappropriate gifs or memes, tag you in photos that depict you in an unfavorable light, or write posts on your wall that are better suited for a private message or phone call.

Everyone else can see these posts, and they associate them with you and possibly your service member, as well. If that’s not how you want to be perceived, then keep your Facebook feed Drama Queen-free.

10. The Boss

When you arrive at a new assignment, your service member’s commander and commander’s spouse might offer a genuinely warm welcome. In some situations, their commander and commander’s spouse might welcome you, too.

This is all well and good, and it’s appropriate to accept their welcome kindly, but be sure to respect the professional line that exists between your service member and The Boss… and The Boss’ Boss. Friending The Boss can cross the line of professionalism, inviting The Boss into your personal world and asking if you can enter his or hers. Generally, people need to maintain their personal space, so while it’s perfectly fine to enjoy friendly conversation at unit barbeques, allow everyone some breathing room on Facebook.

Who would you add to this list?

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

Lists

The complete list of US military ranks (in order)

Before you get to basic training, most people don’t have a very thorough understanding of military ranks, let alone the ability to put them in order. Everybody recognizes the ones that commonly show up in movies like sergeant, captain, or admiral, but where they fall on the pecking order of different branches isn’t all that clear. And as those of us that have spent time in uniform can attest, having a good understanding of military ranks in the order of authority for our own branch doesn’t necessarily mean you know how the rank structure looks in the sister branches.

Confusion about the order of military ranks can be made even worse from branch to branch by the common use of some easily-recognizable rank names (like sergeant or captain) for entirely different pay grades. A captain in the Marine Corps’s pay grade is O-3, whereas a captain in the Navy is an O-6, as one shining example.

So whether you don’t know any of the military ranks, or you’re just confused about how to put them in order, here’s a breakdown of the rank structure in each branch, starting at the most junior enlisted pay grade, and ascending up to the senior most commissioned officer. This list includes the military ranks in order for the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard. Currently, the Space Force is largely made up of Air Force personnel utilizing the Air Force rank structure.

Army Ranks in order

Pay GradeRank
Enlisted Personnel
E-1Private (Recruit)
E-2Private
E-3Private First Class
E-4Specialist
Non-Commissioned Officers
E-4Corporal
E-5Sergeant
E-6Staff Sergeant
E-7Sergeant First Class
E-8First Sergeant
Master Sergeant
E-9Command Sergeant Major
Sergeant Major
E-9Sergeant Major of the Army
Warrant Officers
W-1Warrant Officer 1
W-2Warrant Officer 2
W-3Warrant Officer 3
W-4Warrant Officer 4
W-5Master Warrant Officer 5
Commissioned Officers
O-12nd Lieutenant
O-21st Lieutenant
O-3Captain
O-4Major
O-5Lieutenant Colonel
O-6Colonel
O-7Brigadier General
O-8Major General
O-9Lieutenant General
O-10Army Chief of Staff
General

Air Force Ranks in order

Pay GradeRank
Enlisted Personnel
E-1Airman Basic
E-2Airman
E-3Airman First Class
E-4Senior Airman
Non-Commissioned Officers
E-5Staff Sergeant
E-6Technical Sergeant
E-7First Sergeant (Master Sergeant)
Master Sergeant
E-8First Sergeant (Senior Master Sergeant)
Senior Master Sergeant
E-9First Sergeant (Chief Master Sergeant)
Chief Master Sergeant
SpecialChief Master Sergeant of the Air Force
Warrant Officers
W-1N/A
W-2N/A
W-3N/A
W-4N/A
W-5N/A
Commissioned Officers
O-12nd Lieutenant
O-21st Lieutenant
O-3Captain
O-4Major
O-5Lieutenant Colonel
O-6Colonel
O-7Brigadier General
O-8Major General
O-9Lieutenant General
O-10Air Force Chief of Staff General
**General of the Air Force

Marine Corps ranks in order

Pay GradeRank
Enlisted Personnel
E-1Private
E-2Private First Class
E-3Lance Corporal
Non-Commissioned Officers
E-4Corporal
E-5Sergeant
E-6Staff Sergeant
E-7Gunnery Sergeant
E-8First Sergeant
Master Sergeant
E-9Sergeant Major
Master Gunnery Sergeant
SpecialSergeant Major of the Marine Corps
Warrant Officers
W-1Warrant Officer
W-2Chief Warrant Officer 2
W-3Chief Warrant Officer 3
W-4Chief Warrant Officer 4
W-5Chief Warrant Officer 5
Commissioned Officers
O-12nd Lieutenant
O-21st Lieutenant
O-3Captain
O-4Major
O-5Lieutenant Colonel
O-6Colonel
O-7Brigadier General
O-8Major General
O-9Lieutenant General
O-10Commandant of the Marine Corps
General

Navy ranks in order

Pay GradeRank
Enlisted Personnel
E-1Seaman Recruit
E-2Seaman Apprentice
E-3Seaman
Non-Commissioned Officers
E-4Petty Officer Third Class
E-5Petty Officer Second Class
E-6Petty Officer First Class
E-7Chief Petty Officer
E-8Senior Chief Petty Officer
E-9Master Chief Petty Officer
SpecialMaster Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
Warrant Officers
W-1Warrant Officer 1
W-2Warrant Officer 2
W-3Warrant Officer 3
W-4Warrant Officer 4
W-5Master Warrant Officer
Commissioned Officers
O-1Ensign
O-2Lieutenant, Junior Grade
O-3Lieutenant
O-4Lieutenant Commander
O-5Commander
O-6Captain
O-7Rear Admiral (Commodore)
O-8Rear Admiral (Upper Half)
O-9Vice Admiral
O-10Chief of Naval Operations
Commandant of the Coast Guard
Admiral
**Fleet Admiral

Coast Guard ranks in order

Pay GradeCoast Guard
Enlisted Personnel
E-1Seaman Recruit
E-2Seaman Apprentice
E-3Seaman
Non-Commissioned Officers
E-4Petty Officer Third Class
E-5Petty Officer Second Class
E-6Petty Officer First Class
E-7Chief Petty Officer
E-8Senior Chief Petty Officer
E-9Master Chief Petty Officer
SpecialMaster Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
Warrant Officers
W-1Warrant Officer 1
W-2Warrant Officer 2
W-3Warrant Officer 3
W-4Warrant Officer 4
W-5Master Warrant Officer
Commissioned Officers
O-1Ensign
O-2Lieutenant, Junior Grade
O-3Lieutenant
O-4Lieutenant Commander
O-5Commander
O-6Captain
O-7Rear Admiral (Commodore)
O-8Rear Admiral (Upper Half)
O-9Vice Admiral
O-10Chief of Naval Operations
Commandant of the Coast Guard
Admiral
**Fleet Admiral
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