Which US Presidents Served in the Military?

Updated on June 30, 2019
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Thelma Raker Coffone is an award winning non-fiction writer. She enjoys sharing information about America's presidents and their families.

Army General Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of United States
Army General Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of United States | Source

31 US Presidents Are Military Veterans

Currently, the United States has had a total of 44 people serve as president of the country. There are 31 presidents who are veterans and 13 who never served in the military.

Who are the 31 veterans, which branch of service were they in, and which war, if any, did they fight in?

List of Veteran Presidents

President
Military Branch
Rank
War
George Washington
Continental Army
General
Revolutionary War, French & Indian War
Thomas Jefferson
Virginia Militia
Colonel
 
James Madison
Virginia Militia
Colonel
 
James Monroe
Continental Army
Major
Revolutionary War
Andrew Jackson
Army
Major General
Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Creek War, First Seminole War
William Henry Harrison
Army
Major General
NW Indian War, War of 1812
John Tyler
Virginia Militia
Captain
War of 1812
James K. Polk
Tennessee State Militia
Colonel
No War Service
Zachary Taylor
Army
Major General
War of 1812, Black Hawk War, 2nd Seminole War, Mexico American War
Millard Fillmore
NY State Militia
Major
Civil War
Franklin Pierce
Army
Brigadier General
Mexican American War
James Buchanan
Pennsylvania State Militia
Private
War of 1812
Abraham Lincoln
Illinois Militia
Captain
Black Hawk War
Andrew Johnson
Army
Brigadier General
Civil War
Ulysses S. Grant
Army
General
Mexican American War, Civil War
Rutherford B. Hayes
Army
Major General
Civil War
James A. Garfield
Army
Major General
Civil War
Chester A. Arthur
New York State Militia
Brigadier General
Civil War
Benjamin Harrison
Army
Brigadier General
Civil War
William McKinley
Army
Brevet Major
Civil War
Theodore Roosevelt
Army
Colonel
Spanish American War,
Harry S. Truman
Army Officer Reserve Corps
Colonel
World War I
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Army
General, Supreme Allied Commander
World War I, World War II
John F. Kennedy
Navy
Lieutenant
World War II
Lyndon B. Johnson
Naval Reserve
Commander
World War II
Richard M. Nixon
Naval Reserve
Commander
World War II
Gerald R. Ford
Naval Reserve
Lieutenant Commander
World War II
Jimmy Carter
Navy
Lieutenant
World War II, Korea
Ronald Reagan
Army
Captain
Stateside during World War II
George H. W. Bush
Navy
Lieutenant jg
World War II
George W. Bush
Texas Air National Guard
First Lieutenant
Stateside during Vietnam War

13 Presidents did not Serve in the Military

Of the 44 presidents, the following 13 are not veterans:

  1. John Adams
  2. John Quincy Adams
  3. Martin Van Buren
  4. Grover Cleveland
  5. William Taft
  6. Woodrow Wilson
  7. Warren Harding
  8. Calvin Coolidge
  9. Herbert Hoover
  10. Franklin D. Roosevelt
  11. William Clinton
  12. Barack Obama
  13. Donald Trump

Why Not 45 Presidents?

You may be wondering if President Trump is referred to as president #45 why is the list of presidents above showing 44 presidents? Grover Cleveland served two terms but not consecutively. He is known as president #22 and #24. Consequently, there are 44 people who are presidents.

Test Your Knowledge of Little Known Facts of Veteran Presidents

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Do you Recognize These Presidents in Uniform?

Photo 1
Photo 1
Photo 2
Photo 2
Photo 3
Photo 3
Photo 4
Photo 4
Photo 5
Photo 5

Answers:

  1. Harry S. Truman
  2. Gerald R. Ford
  3. Lyndon B. Johnson
  4. John F. Kennedy
  5. George W. Bush

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Thelma Raker Coffone

    Comments

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      • N.E. Wright profile image

        N E Wright 

        5 months ago from Dover, Delaware

        Thank you for this article. Now let me just say I shamed myself in front of my teenage son taking your quiz that I failed miserably. 33% bad. Someone needs to refresh herself on Presidential history. Lol. I did not cheat. I could have cheated when my son offered to look the info up for me. I did not need him to see how much I did not know about our presidents, but I did not need him to see me cheat either. I should have know these things. This is part of being American. My total bad. Thanks again for the article. Nice my son read with me. Lol.

      • MizBejabbers profile image

        Doris James MizBejabbers 

        5 months ago from Beautiful South

        Gee, Thelma, I don't know much although I have a minor in history. I scored 33% on your quiz, and I didn't recognize the young Harry Truman in the photos. But then history in my day didn't teach much about our presidents' military service, except for Washington, Jackson and Roosevelt. I love history, and this is a very informative well-written article. I enjoyed it very much.

      • Larry Slawson profile image

        Larry Slawson 

        5 months ago from North Carolina

        Very informative article. Thank you for sharing!

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        5 months ago from USA

        This was wonderful to know and I did terrible on your quiz. I’d love to know if there have been any academic studies about military service and leadership and how well they performed as President.

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