We know that one thing always remains consistent about USO supporters: You love army trivia. So, we decided to compile a list of 33 of the greatest (and most surprising) army trivia facts, taken from our branches of the military birthday posts (plus a few new ones). If you want to see the full lists of facts by military branch, take your time exploring Marine Corps facts, Navy facts, Air Force facts and Coast Guard facts.
1. 31 of the 45 men who’ve served as President of the United States have served in the military
One U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt, even received the Medal of Honor. And only one - James Buchanan - never became an officer.
2. From 1942-1944, the Coast Guard had a championship hockey team, the Cutters
The Cutters played in the Eastern Amateur Hockey League, considered to be one of the most competitive leagues of its time.
So, can we come in? A “roof stomp” (which is nowdays often a “porch stomp”) at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. Air Force photo[/caption]
3. A “roof stomp” is an Air Force tradition where airmen welcome new commanders or celebrate special occasions by banging on the commander’s roof, windows, and doors
The commander then opens the door to welcome in the group for refreshments. In recent years, some airmen have modified the tradition to a “porch stomp.”
4. Johnny Cash, Morgan Freeman, and James Stewart are just a handful of the celebrities who have served as airmen
Jimmy Stewart – who won an Oscar for “Philadelphia Story” in 1940 before flying on missions in World War II and Vietnam – rose to the rank of brigadier general in the Air Force Reserve.
5. Every March airmen participate in Mustache March, growing mustaches to honor Air Force legend and triple ace Brig. Gen. Robin Olds
6. Fewer than 100 people have received the title of honorary Marine
The title of honorary Marine can only be bestowed by the Commandant of the Marine Corps. In order of seniority, the list of honorary Marines includes:
- Chuck Norris (rank unknown but also unneeded)
- [Brig. Gen. Bob Hope](uso.org/stories/154-bob-hope-the-uso-s-one-man-morale-machine)
- Master Sgt. Bugs Bunny
- Cpl. Jim Nabors, star of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
- [Gary Sinise](uso.org/stories/2024-gary-sinise-lt-dan-band-performance-marks-actor-s-97th-uso-tour)
7. Only female Marines are authorized to carry umbrellas in uniform
8. “Tossing a Dixie Cover under the Bridge”
For many a short-timer, crossing under the Coronado Bridge (or any other bridge near home port) marks a moment of reflection. Should the sailor stay in or get out? Because sailors are often superstitious, many leave the decision up to the sea, tossing their cover into the deep. If it floats, the sea is asking them to stay. If it sinks, it’s time to move on.
9. Marines often pin their next promotable rank onto their uniforms as a motivator
They usually hide these pinned reminders in their cover, or under a pocket flap.
They changed it to a thunderbird in the late 1930s.
11. Anthony Christy was the oldest active serving Coast Guard member
The keeper of the Christiana Lighthouse in Delaware, Christy died on duty in September,1862 at the age of 105.
12. The Legend of Bill the Goat
Bill the Goat has been the Naval Academy mascot since the early 1900s. Legend has it that a Navy ship once kept a goat as a pet, but on the way back to port the goat died. Two ensigns were entrusted to have the goat stuffed, but were distracted by a Naval Academy football game. One of the ensigns allegedly dressed up in the goatskin and pranced around at halftime. The crowd loved it, and the Navy won the game.
13.Marines who attend MCRD San Diego are often called “Hollywood Marines”
Parris Island Marines call San Diego Marines “Hollywood Marines” because MCRD Parris Island was the first of the two depots. Hollywood Marines don’t have a name for Parris Island Marines, because they feel bad about the sand fleas.
14. Before the Air Force became its own branch of the military, it was a part of the Army
On Aug. 1, 1907, the U.S. Army Signal Corps formed the Aeronautical Division, which later evolved into the Air Force.
15. Two U.S. presidents — Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush — served as airmen
Reagan’s served when the branch was still known as the Army Air Forces. George W. Bush served in the Texas Air National Guard, before transferring to the Air Force Reserve.
16. The Marines have won four out of five Warrior Games competitions
2014 marked their first loss to the Army.
17. The Army was tasked with mapping America The scope of this exploration and mapping task included the Lewis and Clark expedition. Army officers were some of the first American citizens to see Pike’s Peak and the Grand Canyon.
18. The license plate of the Commandant of the Marine Corps reads “1775”
19. Marines in uniform are not authorized to put their hands in their pockets
20. Walt Disney created a special logo for the Coast Guard’s Corsair Fleet during World War II, featuring Donald Duck
21. The Marine Corps mascot is an English bulldog named Chesty
The mascot is named after after Marine Lt. Gen. Louis B. “Chesty” Puller, the only Marine to earn five Navy Crosses.
22. Marine Corps Col. John Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth
23. In the Navy there are no windows, walls, or bathrooms
The Navy has rich diction, but don’t get it mixed up. Ships don’t have walls, they have bulkheads. They don’t have windows, they have portholes. Your left side is your port side, and your right side is starboard. The mess deck is where you eat, and the deck is where you walk. Above your head is an overhead, not a ceiling or a roof. If you need a toilet, you will find that in the head —the rack is where you sleep.
24. Ever since Vietnam, Marine Amtrac crews will not eat apricots which are considered bad luck
25. While many animals have served as mascots aboard Coast Guard vessels, Sinbad, a dog, is one of the service’s most famous
Sinbad served on board the cutter Campbell during World War II, keeping troops company during their voyages.
On Veterans Day 1956, “The Army Goes Rolling Along” was declared as the branch’s official tune.
27. Marines also think it’s unlucky to eat the CHARMS that used to come in packs of meals ready to eat
28. The oldest Coast Guard boat station is in Sandy Hook, New Jersey
29. The Marines’ first land battle on foreign soil was in Libya
During this battle, 600 Marines stormed the city of Derna to rescue the crew of the USS Philadelphia from pirates.
30. In 1967, the Coast Guard icebreaker Eastwind became the first cutter to ever sail around Antarctica
Eastwind was also the first ship to circumnavigate Antarctica since 1843.
31. In 1947, then-Air Force Capt. Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in his Bell X-1 rocket-powered aircraft
This feat marked a new era of aeronautics in America.
32. The Coast Guard refers to a vessel as a “cutter” if it’s over 65-feet long
33. Though tattoos are discouraged in today’s Navy, they weren’t always
For hundreds of years, sailors tattooed themselves as souvenirs to communicate their travels and their trials. Find a short (and non-comprehensive) list below of imagery you may encounter among saltier sailors, including the meaning of each tattoo:
- Swallows: Home (each denotes 5,000 miles at sea)
- Compass/Nautical Star: Never losing one’s way (each denotes 10,000 miles at sea)
- Trident: Special warfare
- Rose: A significant other left at home
- Twin screws or props on one’s backside: Propels one forward through life
- Rope: Deckhand
- Octopus: Navy diver
- Dolphin: Wards off sharks
- Sharks: Rescue swimmer
- Polar bear: Sailed the Arctic Circle
- Dragon: Sailed the Pacific
- Fouled anchor: Sailed the Atlantic
- Turtle: Crossed the equator
- Gold dragon: Crossed the International Dateline
- Gold turtle: Crossed the International Dateline and the Equator where they intersect
- Emerald fouled anchor: Crossed the Prime Meridian
- Emerald turtle: Crossed the Prime Meridian and the Equator where they intersect
- Full-rigged ship: Sailed around Cape Horn
- Helm: Quartermaster
- Pin-up girls: Company at sea/port call
- Hula girls: Sailed to or ported in Hawaii
- Dagger through a swallow: Signifies a lost comrade
- Pig and chicken: Superstition to keep from drowning
- The words “HOLD FAST”: Signifies a deckhand’s tight grip on the lines
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