Military Trivia Facts

Dwight D. Eisenhower earned rank of five-star general
Dwight D. Eisenhower, left, was one of only two presidents who earned the rank of 5-star general. (Courtesy of Dwight D. Eisenhower Library)

Although some military experts have an incredibly in-depth knowledge of the military, no one person can know everything there is to know. I have searched books and the internet and have come up with 15 military facts I bet you didn't know. These facts make great dinner conversation and could help you win on any one of our trivia games.

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1. Thirty of the 45 presidents served in the Army, 24 during time of war, two earned the rank of five-star general (Washington -- who was promoted posthumously to a six-star general in 1976 -- and Eisenhower) and one earned the Medal of Honor (Theodore Roosevelt)

2. Less than 28% of Americans between the ages of 17-23 are qualified for military service, that's only about 1-in-4.

3. The U.S. Air Force was part of the Army until 1946. It was called the Army Air Corps.

4. Only one president (James Buchanan) served as an enlisted man in the military and did not go on to become an officer.

5. The Defense Department employs about 1.8 million people on active duty. It is the largest employer in the United States, with more employees than Exxon, Mobil, Ford, General Motors and GE combined.

6. The Defense Department owns 29,819,492 acres of land worldwide.

7. The United States has 737 military installations overseas alone.

8. The Navy's bell-bottom trousers are commonly believed to be introduced in 1817 to permit men to roll them above the knee when washing down the decks and to make it easier to remove them in a hurry when forced to abandon ship or when washed overboard. In addition, the trousers may be used as a life preserver by knotting the legs and swinging them over your head to fill the legs with air.

9. The Coast Guard seizes 169 pounds of marijuana and 306 pounds of cocaine worth $9,589,000.00 every day.

10. The Coast Guard is smaller than the New York City Police Department.

11. The Marine Corps adopted "Semper Fidelis" as its official motto in 1883. It is Latin for Always Faithful.

12. The nickname "Leatherneck" originates from the stiff leather stock that early Marines wore around their necks, probably to protect their jugular vein against saber blows.

13. The English Bulldog, also known as "Teufel-hunden" or "Devil Dogs," is the unofficial mascot that symbolizes the ethos of the warrior culture of the U.S. Marines. The Marine Corps earned this unofficial mascot during World War I, when many German reports called the attacking Marines "teufel-hunden," meaning devil dogs. "Teufel-hunden" were the vicious, wild and ferocious mountain dogs of German Bavarian folklore.

14. The U.S. Army was in charge of exploring and mapping America. The Lewis and Clark Expedition was an all-Army affair. Army officers were the first Americans to see such landmarks as Pike's Peak and the Grand Canyon.

15. The Air Force's F-117 fighter uses aerodynamics discovered during research into how bumblebees fly.

So there they are, 15 facts you didn't know, but now you do. Now you can amaze your friends and family with your knowledge of military trivia.

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