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    Happy 243rd Birthday! 19 Facts You Didn’t Know About the U.S. Army

    After a couple of decades of active duty Army spouse life, I feel like I know a few things. Most of those things are survival skills learned by sinking or swimming, like when someone messes with your BAH, and you have to learn to fix that ASAP, because all you know is that you’re missing a lot of money from this month’s LES.

    Notice all of those acronyms?

    I’ve learned those along the way either by osmosis or repetition; I’m not sure. Although I now grasp that the idea that PX has been renamed the Exchange, there is so much more about the Army and its 243 years of history that I don’t know. 

    The Army celebrates its 243rd birthday today, June 14, 2018, and in recognition of the institution and the heart and soul of the soldiers who serve diligently, I’d like to share a few facts about the Army you probably didn’t know!

    Happy 243rd Birthday, U.S. Army!


    1) The Army is more than a year older than the United States.

    Any school book says we recognize the birth of our nation as July 4, 1776, but Major General George Washington needed official troops many months before. He had hardy but rag-tag militias, so he asked the Continental Congress to provide him with an organization plan to start the first Army. The resolution occurred on June 14, 1775.

    AT-4 training grenade launcher

    Paratroopers with 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, carry a AT-4 training grenade launcher during a platoon level live-fire exercise at the 7th Army Training Command's Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, March 21, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Gertrud Zach)

    2) Several branches of the Army share the same birth year as the overall Army.

    The Continental Congress deemed them necessary for the time: Infantry, Adjutant General’s Corps, Corps of Engineers, Finance Corps, Quartermaster Corps, Air Defense Artillery, Field Artillery. Armor’s birthday is close, but in 1776.

    3) Twenty-four presidents served in the Army or predated the official Army and served in militias.

    Did you know there was a Captain Abraham Lincoln? Yep, in the Black Hawk War.

    Combined arms live fire exerciseAn M1 Abrams tank from 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, fires a round during a combined arms live fire exercise at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, Mar 26, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Hubert D. Delany III )

    4) Within the presidential Army ranks, several received outstanding military awards.

    President Theodore Roosevelt earned the Medal of Honor (posthumously), and President George H.W. Bush earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. President George Washington was promoted to General of the Armies of the United States in 1976, coinciding with the country’s bicentennial celebration.

    5) Speaking of President Washington, he was responsible for what the uniform of the Continental Army was to look like.

    The uniforms famously originated with Washington’s order of blue coats with differing facings for the various state troops, artillery, artillery artificers, and light dragoons. Although the uniform evolved through many colors and designs since, an intentional return to the blue coats was reestablished in 2010.


    Soldiers assigned to the Army's 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, "The Old Guard," march to the Tomb of the Unknowns as part of the Army's 233rd birthday tribute in Arlington National Cemetery, VA D. Myles Cullen [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 

    6) There have only been five 5 Star Generals in the Army’s history.

    General George C. Marshall, General Douglas MacArthur, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, General Henry H. Arnold, and General Omar N. Bradley.

    7) The Army as a whole encompasses the efforts of the Army National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserve.

    8) The official motto of the Army is “This We’ll Defend.”

    Chinook flight engineerA U.S. Army Task Force Brawler CH-47F Chinook flight engineer sits on the ramp while conducting a training exercise with a Guardian Angel team assigned to the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 26, 2018. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook)

    9) Flag Day shares the Army’s birthday; it’s also celebrated on June 14.

    The Second Continental Congress passed a resolution adopting the flag of the United States in 1777.

    10) The Army flag was not officially designated and unfurled until June 14, 1956, in 




    11) Officially an artillery tune, "The Caisson Song" music was used, but the lyrics were changed to create "The Army Goes Rolling Along."

    It was finally recognized as the official Army song on Veterans Day 1956.

    12) “The Old Guard,” formally known as the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, is the oldest active duty infantry unit in the Army.

    You’ll recognize these soldiers because they maintain the tradition of the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Arlington National Cemetery.

    13) Ubiquitous in the Army is the beloved call or shout, “Hooah!”

    Its origins are contentious, but most believe it evolved from the acronym (also beloved in the Army) HUA. Heard. Understood. Acknowledge. The famous 82nd Airborne Division takes credit for the term in World War II.

    Arctic DeploymentSoldiers assigned to the 21st Infantry Regiment participate in a combined arms live-fire exercise during an arctic deployment of Stryker armored vehicles as part of the U.S. Army-led Joint Force Land Component Command in support of Alaskan command's exercise Arctic Edge 18 conducted under the authority of U.S. Northern Command at Fort Greely, Alaska, March 15, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Efren Lopez)

    14) The Army owns about 15 million acres of land throughout the U.S.

    This land mass is larger than each of these states: New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island.  

    15 ) In 2016 and 2017, the Army held recruitment goals of 62,000 soldiers annually.

    Camp Commando medical clinic
    Chief Warrant Officer 3 Kaylan Harrington, Afghan National Army Special Operations Advisory Group mentor, assists with the Afghan Commandos' routine essential items distribution at the Camp Commando medical clinic, Kabul, Nov. 6, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sean Carnes) 

    16) The Army is pretty famous for its tag lines and catch phrases.

    • Army Strong 2006-2015
    • Army of One 2001-2006
    • Be All You Can Be 1980-2001
    • Today’s Army Wants to Join You 1971-1980
    • Look Sharp, Be Sharp, Go Army! 1950s-1971
    • I Want YOU for US Army World War I

    Wreath laying ceremonyThe U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own), supports a full honors wreath laying ceremony hosted by Gen. François Lecointre, chief of defence staff, French Armed Forces, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., Feb. 12, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser)

    17) The U.S. Army probably doesn’t first come to mind as a major humanitarian relief provider.

    But it certainly has contributed in immeasurable ways to the rescue and rebuilding of many nations and throughout the U.S. Hurricanes, flood disasters, and forest fire recovery have all been executed by the Army.

    18) The Army currently has an Astronaut Program, but the Army’s involvement with space exploration dates back to 1958, when it launched America’s first satellite, Explorer I.

    Later, in 1976, the first Army astronaut into space was Maj. Robert L. Stewart. Between 1976 and 2016, 18 soldiers completed astronaut candidate training.

    Airborne operationA Soldier preparing his equipment for combat after landing on Juliet Drop Zone in northern Italy. (U.S. Army photo by Lt. Col. John Hall)

    19) The theme of the 2018 Army Birthday Ball is, “Over There! From WWI to Present Day.”

    The official Army Birthday Ball takes place in Washington, D.C., on June 16, 2018.

    When my husband started his career in the Army, I knew there was much to learn, and in a hurry. I focused on logistics like how to register my car, how to power through an on-base housing waiting list, and the cumbersome Tricare rigmarole that has tried my patience extensively.

    14521741637_f65d409bf1_zJulius Brown, 6, patiently waits to embrace his father, Staff Sgt. Julian A. Brown, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 4th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain (Light Infantry) Division, on July 15, 2014 during a welcome home ceremony at Magrath Sports Complex in Fort Drum, N.Y.  (U.S. Army Photo By Spc. Osama Ayyad).

    What I didn’t anticipate was how important the relationships with the people we met along the way were going to be. The loyalty of steadfast friends and mentors we’ve met are exceptionally special and truly only found amongst the ranks of United States service members and their families.

     These people are, and continue to be, the best things we didn’t know about the Army.

    41773331155_2e48de13a8_zSome family members couldn’t wait to welcome nearly 400 paratroopers from the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division home June 2 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson's Hangar 1 after their return from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel. (Army photo/John Pennell)

    Unless otherwise noted, all photos courtesy U.S. Army and U.S. Army Flickr account

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    Dawn M. Smith


    Dawn M. Smith

    Dawn is a real estate and military life writer who has a serious HGTV habit. When she is not writing, her teen daughter, Army husband, and golden retriever keep her busy through chauffeur duties, travel planning, and long dog walks. Dawn is pleased to share her experiences with MilitaryByOwner readers who are hoping to simplify military family journeys of all kinds. Follow Dawn on Pinterest for more ideas and resources and visit her site at Dawn M. Smith Custom Content Creation.

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