Presidents Who Were Veterans

Presidents Who Were Veterans

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 45 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.