29 American presidents who served in the military

The majority of presidents have served in the military in some capacity. John F. Kennedy (right) with crew during World War II.

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The majority of presidents have served in the military in some capacity. John F. Kennedy (right) with crew during World War II.
source
Wikpedia

• The president is considered the commander-in-chief of the US military.

• A total of 29 US presidents have served in the American military in some capacity.

• The last president to see combat was George H. W. Bush.

Serving in the military isn’t a prerequisite for becoming president. Nonetheless, out of the 44 presidents of the United States, 29 had some military experience in their background, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs. This seems fitting, given that the president is the commander-in-chief of America’s military.

Military service also came up as a political issue over time. The military service of both George W. Bush and John Kerry received heavily scrutiny during the 2004 presidential campaign.

And, while observers have pointed out that US President Donald Trump has a fondness for military trappings and parades – even sparking anger by referring to his staff as “my generals,” Business Insider’s Mark Abadi reportedthe medical deferment that kept him out of the Vietnam War is a source of controversy.

These are the presidents who served in the armed forces in some capacity, from the modern day to the American Revolution:


George W. Bush

source
Wikimedia Commons

Service: Texas Air National Guard

Rank: First Lieutenant

Conflict: Stateside during the Vietnam War


George H. W. Bush

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U.S. Navy

Service: United States Naval Reserve

Rank: Lieutenant (junior grade)

Conflict: World War II

Awards: Distinguished Flying Cross


Ronald Reagan

source
Wikimedia Commons

Service: United States Army Reserve, United States Army Air Corps

Rank: Captain

Conflict: Stateside during World War II


Jimmy Carter

source
Wikimedia Commons

Service: United States Navy

Rank: Lieutenant

Conflict: World War II and Korea


Gerald Ford

source
Wikimedia Commons

Service: United States Naval Reserve

Rank: Lieutenant Commander

Conflict: World War II


Richard Nixon

source
Wikimedia Commons

Service: United States Naval Reserve

Rank: Commander

Conflict: World War II

Awards: Two Service Stars


Lyndon B. Johnson

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Wikimedia Commons

Service: United States Naval Reserve

Rank: Commander

Conflict: World War II

Awards: Silver Star


John F. Kennedy

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Wikimedia Commons

Service: United States Navy

Rank: Lieutenant

Conflict: World War II

Awards: Navy and Marine Corps Medal and a Purple Heart


Dwight D. Eisenhower

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Wikimedia Commons

Service: United States Army

Rank: Army General during World War I, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during World War II

Conflict: World War I and World War II


Harry S. Truman

source
Wikimedia Commons

Service: Army Officer Reserve Corps

Rank: Colonel

Conflict: World War I


Theodore Roosevelt

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Wikimedia Commons

Service: United States Army

Rank: Colonel

Conflict: Spanish-American War

Awards: Medal of Honor (Roosevelt is the only US president to have received this award)


William McKinley

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Wikimedia Commons

Service: United States Army

Rank: Brevet Major

Conflict: American Civil War


Benjamin Harrison

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Wikimedia Commons

Service: United States Army

Rank: Brigadier General

Conflict: American Civil War


Chester A. Arthur

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Wikimedia Commons

Service: New York State Militia

Rank: Brigadier General

Conflict: American Civil War


James Garfield

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Wikimedia Commons

Service: United States Army

Rank: Major General

Conflict: American Civil War


Rutherford B. Hayes

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Wikimedia Commons

Service: United States Army

Rank: Major General

Conflict:American Civil War


Ulysses S. Grant

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Wikimedia Commons

Service: United States Army

Rank: General of the Army

Conflict: Mexican-American War and American Civil War


Andrew Johnson

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Wikimedia Commons

Service: United States Army

Rank: Brigadier General

Conflict: American Civil War


Abraham Lincoln

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Wikimedia Commons

Service: Illinois State Militia

Rank: Captain

Conflict: Black Hawk War


James Buchanan

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Wikimedia Commons

Service: Pennsylvania State Militia

Rank: Private

Conflict: War of 1812


Franklin Pierce

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Wikimedia Commons

Service: United States Army

Rank: Brigadier General

Conflict: Mexican-American War


Millard Fillmore

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Wikimedia Commons

Service: New York State Militia

Rank: Major

Conflict: American Civil War


Zachary Taylor

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Wikimedia Commons

Service: United States Army

Rank: Major General

Conflict: War of 1812, Black Hawk War, Second Seminole War, Mexican-American War


James K. Polk

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Wikimedia Commons

Service: Tennessee State Militia

Rank: Colonel

Conflict: Did not see war service


John Tyler

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Wikimedia Commons

Service: Virginia Militia

Rank: Captain

Conflict: War of 1812


William Henry Harrison

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Wikimedia Commons

Service: United States Army

Rank: Major General

Conflict: Northwest Indian War and the War of 1812


Andrew Jackson

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Wikimedia Commons

Service: United States Army

Rank: Major General

Conflict: American Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Creek War, and the First Seminole War


James Monroe

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Wikimedia Commons

Service: Continental Army

Rank: Major

Conflict: American Revolutionary War


George Washington

source
Wikimedia Commons

Service: Virginia militia, Continental Army, United States Army

Rank: General

Conflict: French and Indian War and American Revolutionary War