Common Military Myths Debunked

Armed Forces Day: 14 facts you may not know about the U.S. military

On Aug. 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson had an announcement to make.

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Following World War II, the U.S. military hierarchy was being reorganized, and redundancies, at least some of them, were being eliminated. The departments of War and of the Navy had been combined in 1947 and called the National Military Establishment. In 1949, the name was changed to the Department of Defense.

To build morale and put a new focus on the combined forces, Johnson would announce the creation of a single-day celebration to honor all the members of the military no matter the branch. It was known as Armed Forces Day.

On Saturday we'll celebrate Armed Forces Day, 66 years and one day after the first one was celebrated in 1950. In honor of and to celebrate U.S. service members today, here are a few things you may not know about the American military.

1. Thirty American presidents served in the U.S. Army, 24 during time of war. Of the 30, two became five-star generals – George Washington and Dwight Eisenhower. Teddy Roosevelt was awarded the Medal of Honor. --

2. 1,760 PlayStation 3s were used to build a supercomputer for the Department of Defense. --

3. There are 1.8 million people on active duty, according to the Department of Defense. -- DOD

4. The Department of Defense owns 29,819,492 acres of land worldwide. -- DOD

5. The United States has 737 military installations overseas. -- DOD

6. According to, the Navy’s bell-bottom trousers are believed to have been introduced in 1817 to permit men to roll them above the knee when washing down the decks. In addition, the trousers can be used as a life preserver if you knot the legs.

7. The Marine Corps motto is "Semper Fidelis,” Latin for “Always Faithful.”

8. The last time the United States "declared war" was in 1942. -- Wikipedia

9. The U.S. Department of Defense is the world's largest employer. -- DOD

10. The Department of Defense uses 4.6 billion US gallons of fuel annually. -- DOD

11. Stores on U.S. military bases outside of America will not accept pennies as currency. It’s too expensive to ship them there and back. -- Los Angeles Times

12. The U.S. military uses a nearly silent type of Velcro that reduces the ripping noise by over 95 percent. -- Reddit

13. A service member in a designated combat zone or hazardous duty area generally does not have to pay federal income tax on the military pay and reimbursements during his or her service there. -- Internal Revenue Service

14. In 1949, a U.S. Army private first class – known to the payroll department as an E-3 -- took home a monthly check of $99.55 in “basic pay.” That $99.55 came after he had been in the service for two  years and had no dependents.

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