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Omni Military Loans Blog:

Presidents Who Were Veterans

By - Posted on January 2, 2018

Every American president is known as the “Commander-in-Chief.” While the presidency is a civilian position, most U.S. presidents have a military background. Out of 44 presidents, 31 were in the military, and many served during wartime. The following lists the presidents who were veterans, along with their ranks, years in the service, and any wars in which they served.

 

Presidents Who Served in the Military

George Washington

General and Commander in Chief, Continental Army
1775-1783

Served during the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. At the time of his death, President Washington was still a member of the army.

Thomas Jefferson

Colonel, Virginia Militia
1770-1779

James Madison

Colonel, Virginia Militia
1775-1781

James Monroe

Major, Continental Army
1775-1778

Served during the American Revolution.

Andrew Jackson

Major General, U.S. Army
1814-1821

Served during the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Creek War and the First Seminole War.

William Henry Harrison

Major General, Kentucky Militia
1812-1814

Served during the Northwest Indian War and the War of 1812. Presidents Andrew Jackson and Henry Harrison are considered to be two major heroes of the War of 1812.

John Tyler 

Captain, Virginia Militia
1812 Served during the War of 1812 

James K. Polk 

Colonel, Tennessee Militia
1821 

Zachary Taylor 

Major General, U.S. Army
1805-1815, 1816-1849  

Served during the War of 1812, the Black Hawk War, the Second Seminole War and the Mexican-American War. 

Millard Fillmore 

Major, Union Continentals (home guard)
1861  

Served during the American Civil War.   

Franklin Pierce 

Brigadier General, New Hampshire Militia
1846-1848 

Served during the Mexican-American War.  

James Buchanan 

Private, Pennsylvania Militia
1814  

Served during the War of 1812 

Abraham Lincoln 

Captain, Illinois Militia
1832  

Served in the Black Hawk War.  

Andrew Johnson 

Brigadier General, U.S. Army (Volunteers)
1862-1865  

Served in the American Civil War. 

Ulysses S. Grant 

General, U.S. Army
1866-1869  

Served in the Mexican-American War and the American Civil War. 

Rutherford B. Hayes 

Major General, U.S. Army (Volunteers)
1861-1865  

Served in the American Civil War. 

James A. Garfield 

Major General, U.S. Army (Volunteers)
1861-1863  

Served in the American Civil War. 

Chester A. Arthur 

Brigadier General, New York Militia
1858-1863  

Served in the American Civil War. 

Benjamin Harrison 

Brevet Brigadier General, U.S. Army (Volunteers)
1862-1865  

Served in the American Civil War. 

William McKinley 

Brevet Major, U.S. Army (Volunteers)
1861-1865  

Served in the American Civil War. 

Theodore Roosevelt 

Colonel, U.S. Army (Volunteers)
1898  

Served during the Spanish-American War and is the only United States President to receive the Medal of Honor, the most prestigious personal U.S. military decoration. 

Harry S. Truman 

Colonel, Army Officer Reserve Corps
1919-1945  

Served in the National Guard and also in combat during World War I. While President Eisenhower also served during World War I, President Truman was the only president to fight during the war.   

Dwight D. Eisenhower 

General of the Army, U.S. Army
1915-1948, 1951-1952  

Served in World War I and World War II. 

John F. Kennedy 

Lieutenant, U.S. Naval Reserve
1941-1945  

Served in World War II and was awarded a Purple Heart and a Navy and Marine Corps Medal. 

Lyndon B. Johnson 

Commander, U.S. Naval Reserve
1940-1964  

Served during World War II and was awarded a Silver Star by General Douglas MacArthur. 

Richard M. Nixon 

Commander, U.S. Naval Reserve
1942-1966  

Served during World War II. He was honored with a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and two service stars. 

Gerald R. Ford, Jr. 

Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Naval Reserve
1942-1946  

Served during World War II, in combat on the USS Monterey. 

Jimmy Carter 

Lieutenant, U.S. Navy
1946-1953  

Served during World War II and the Korean War. 

Ronald Reagan 

Captain, U.S. Army
1942-1945  

Served during World War II. 

George Bush 

Lieutenant (junior grade), U.S. Navy
1942-1945  

Served during World War II and was shot down. Received Distinguished Flying Cross medal which, according to the Distinguished Flying Cross Society, honors ”heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight.” 

George W. Bush 

First Lieutenant, Texas Air National Guard
1968-1973  

Served as a pilot during the Vietnam War. 

 

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