The United States Army had 17 ranks at the beginning of the war and 21 at the end of the war.

Enlisted Rank History[edit | edit source]

In August 5, 1920 as per War Department Circular Number 303, the United States Army reduced their enlisted ranks down to 7 pay grades, 8 enlisted rank titles and only 7 different rank insignias. The previous specialty ranks were converted to the nearest equivalent enlisted pay grade. Previously there were bands of pay from General (grade 1) to Private (grade 21). The Enlisted pay grades were now made separate and numbered from Grade 7 (Private, the lowest) to Grade 1 (Master Sergeant, the highest). The Military would not adopt the "E" prefix for the enlisted pay grades until 1949 and would not use the current lowest-to-highest numbering system until 1951.

Private Second Class had no insignia. It would not get one until 1968, when it inherited the former single chevron insignia of Private First Class to distinguish them from recruits attending boot camp. Private First Class received one chevron as its insignia; this replaced the trade badge or single "rocker" stripe previously assigned it. It received its current chevron and "rocker" stripes in 1968. First Sergeant was considered an appointment rather than a rank. It was first considered a superior form of Technical Sergeant (with 2 curved "rocker" stripes) and later re-classed in 1942 as a subordinate form of Master Sergeant (with 3 "rocker" stripes). The rank and appointment of Sergeant Major was eliminated and wouldn't be restored until 1958. Its functions were absorbed by the rank of Master Sergeant (Grade 1).

Stripes had previously been shrunk to 3.125-inches wide in 1902 and were wool on a wool backing. They were Khaki on Olive Drab backing on the Olive Drab Service uniform, Olive-Drab on Khaki backing on the Khaki Field uniform, and Branch-colored (like sky-blue for Infantry or yellow for Cavalry) worn on a Blue backing on the Dress Blue uniform. In 1920 the Branch-colored enlisted stripes and the senior "staff" NCO rank stripes (with flat "bars" instead of curved "rockers") were abolished. They were now replaced with standardized "Summer" light olive drab (OD-3) or "Winter" buff-colored (OD-2) wool stripes on a dark blue felt backing for all branches. The "Winter" stripes were worn on the Olive Drab Service (or Class "A" and "B") uniforms and the "Summer" stripes were worn on the Khaki Field (or Class "C") and denim fatigue (or Class "D") uniforms.

Stripes were also commercially available from manufacturers or sold in base PXs. They sometimes could be ordered embroidered with trade badges - like the Army Air Forces' "winged propeller" insignia. Khaki stripes on Olive Drab twill backing were designed for wear on the Class "B" uniform. They were also made in "Low Visibility" Olive Drab or Sage Green stripes on Khaki twill backing for wear on the Class "C" uniform. The non-standard insignia were set as limited standard in January 8, 1942 and allowed to be worn until worn out.

Technician Rank History[edit | edit source]

Before 1920 the US Army had a wide variety of specialty and trade ranks. They covered everything from bakers, cooks, and musicians to farriers, medical orderlies, telegraph or radio operators, and electricians. They had a bewildering array of insignia with an equally-confusing system of pay groups, with senior specialists getting more pay than senior NCOs. Seniority was also difficult to figure out, for example between a Chief Electrical Engineer and a Coast Artillery Corps Gunner or between an Infantry Staff Sergeant and a Medical Department Staff Sergeant. There were 76 trades before World War One and the number was expanded to 134 during and afterwards. Not even the head of the Quartermaster Department, which designed and issued the insignia, knew them all.

Specialist (1920-1942)[edit | edit source]

In 1920 the wide variety of specialty and trade ranks and their insignia were abolished and replaced with the rank of Private-Specialist. The rank of Private-Specialist received the same pay as a Private (Grade 7) or Private First Class (Grade 6) but received a bonus from $3 (Specialist Sixth Class) through $30 (Specialist First Class) per month.

Specialists had the same single chevron of a Private First Class but were considered between the ranks of Private First Class and Corporal in authority. This was very confusing, as you couldn't tell the difference between a PFC and a Specialist and couldn't tell what their specialty was because trade badges had been eliminated.

Unofficial commercially-made insignia authorized by post commands granted Specialists one to six arcs under their chevron (ranging from one for Specialist Sixth Class to six for Specialist First Class) to indicate their grade. Some even had trade badges embroidered between their stripes to indicate their specialty.

The rank of Private-Specialist was abolished in January, 1942 and replaced with the rank of Technician.

Technician (1942-1948)[edit | edit source]

Technician ranks were added during the rank changes in January 8, 1942. They received the same pay as an NCO of the same grade but were considered a half step in authority subordinate to NCOs of the same grade and superior to all lesser grades. For instance, a Technician Third Grade was equal to a Staff Sergeant [G-3] in pay ($96 a month) but was considered between a Sergeant [G-4] and Staff Sergeant [G-3] in authority. They had the same rank insignia as NCOs of the same pay grade, but were differenced with a "T" insignia of stripe color between the chevrons and rockers. The Technician ranks were abolished on August 1, 1948. The Specialist ranks that replaced them were not introduced until 1955.

Warrant Officer Rank History[edit | edit source]

Warrant Officers are specialist personnel with a narrow authority called a warrant rather than the broad authority of an officer's commission. In the world's militaries they are either considered a senior grade of Non-Commissioned Officer (like in European armies) or a layer of command between Non-Commissioned and Commissioned Officers (like in the United States' Army). They differ from commissioned officers in that they have a specialized area of expertise rather than a general familiarity with a variety of subjects.

Field Clerks [1896 - 1926][edit | edit source]

Originally, civilian employees of the Department of War did administrative and clerical tasks in headquarters units and staffs. In 1896 they were given the Army ranks of Headquarters Clerk and Pay Clerk. The Judge Advocate General's Corps ruled in 1916 that all military staff positions should be filled by Army personnel. The ranks of Army Field Clerk (the former Headquarters Clerk) and Quarter-Master Corps Field Clerk (the former Pay Clerk) were authorized by an Act of Congress (Public Law 64-242) on August 29, 1916. Army Field Clerks worked as headquarters staff or for the Adjutant General’s Department. Quarter-Master Corps Field Clerks worked as administrative and pay clerks for their eponymous Branch of service. Starting pay for a Field Clerk was $1,000 a year - working out to $83.33 a month.

On July 1917 Field Clerks were assigned to wear enlisted uniform. For branch insignia they wore two crossed quill pens on a disk on their left collar and a larger freework Branch insignia cap badge of two crossed quill pens worn on the M1902 visored cap.

In December 19, 1917 Special Regulation 41 stated that the Army Field Clerk and Quarter-Master Corps Field Clerk ranks were authorized the same uniform as an officer. Field Clerks were not permitted the brown mohair cuff braid band of an Army officer but were authorized a silver-and-black braid hatcord for wear with the M1911 Campaign Hat and the officer's "G.I. Eagle" for wear with the M1902 peaked cap. Their rank insignia was two crossed quill pens. To tell them apart their branch insignia was pendant underneath it. Army Field Clerks had the Adjutant General’s Department shield. Quarter-Master Corps Field Clerks used the Quarter-Master Corps wheel (paired so the eagle perched atop its wheel faced forward).

Warrant-Officer branch-insignia (1921-2004).jpg

Section 4a (Warrant Officers) of the National Defense Act of 1920 (Public Law 66-242; passed June 4, 1920) authorized 1,120 warrant officers to serve in clerical or administrative posts allowed to enlisted ranks. Warrant Officers were excluded from the posts of summary court officer, legal counsel, officer of the day, or assistant adjutant - as they were reserved for officers. Warrant Officer candidates had to be either enlisted personnel with appropriate skills who had at least ten years of service or who had been temporarily breveted to commissioned rank during World War One and had at least five years of service.

Army Field Clerks, Quarter-Master Corps Field Clerks, and Army Bandmasters could apply to be appointed as warrant officers if there were less than the authorized number. No further appointments were to be made to the Field Clerk ranks.

Army Warrant Officer pay was set at $1320 a year (or $110 a month) and they were granted the same benefits and longevity pay as an Army Second Lieutenant. Warrant Officers were defined as junior in rank to Second Lieutenants and senior in rank to all enlisted ranks.

The rank of Warrant Officer was originally earmarked for specially-educated personnel to serve in the place of officers, but it was also used to reward or retain experienced long-service personnel who were not officer material. It was given to either former commissioned officers who no longer met the educational or other requirements of rank or outstanding enlisted personnel who were too old to be commissioned and who otherwise could look to no further advancement.

On June 9, 1920 War Department Bulletin 25 authorized Army Warrant Officers to wear the same uniform as Warrant Officers in the Mine Planter Service, except they were not permitted to wear its brown cord rank braid on the sleeves. On May 12, 1921 a combination Warrant Officer rank and Branch insignia was authorized - a Gold Rising Eagle perched on two arrows set in a "W"-shaped laurel wreath. Warrant Officers, regardless of branch of assignment, were expected to wear it to difference them from non-commissioned and commissioned officers. Tank Corps Warrant Officers were the first to wear the new insignia.

In 1922 the number of Army Warrant Officers, excluding the classes of Band Masters and Army Mine Planter Service Warrant Officers, was reduced to 600. The 1922 Warrant Officer examinations list was used for all later appointments and no new appointments were made until it was depleted in 1936. In 1936 new examinations were held and this candidate list was used until depleted in 1942.

On April 27, 1926 the discontinued rank of Field Clerk was abolished and all Field Clerks were converted to Warrant Officers in the Regular Army. They were a class excluded from the Warrant Officer limit set in 1922.

Army Mine Planter Service, Coast Artillery Corps [1904-1954][edit | edit source]

The Army's Coastal Artillery Corps was an organization created in 1901 as a sub-division of the Artillery Corps to man the Army's coastal forts and harbor defenses. It controlled the batteries of anti-ship artillery that protected the United States from attack or invasion by sea and coastal anti-aircraft artillery defenses to prevent attack by air. One of its duties was supervision of the sea mine fields that screened these fortifications.

In 1904 an Army Mine Planter Service was set up by the Coast Artillery Corps to run a fleet of Mine Planter ships that were under direct Army control. They used retrofitted civilian craft until purpose-built Army mine-planters could replace them. The original crews were civilian sailors and enlisted Army mine handlers under the command of an Army Coastal Artillery Corps officer. There was a lot of friction between the mariners, who bristled under Army discipline, and the Army personnel, who disliked how unreliable the sailors were. Sometimes ships had to stay in port due to crewmen quitting or not showing up for duty. On July 9, 1918 Congress passed the Appropriations Act of 1918, which organized the crews as military personnel and created the rank of Warrant Officer. A school to train the mariners was set up at Fort Monroe, Virginia. The first 40 Warrant Officers to graduate were appointed in 1922.

On July 22, 1918 War Department Bulletin 43 classed the ships' Masters, Mates, and Engineers as Warrant Officers. Each ship had to have one of each rank onboard to staff the three duty watches in pairs of a deck officer and an engineer. The Deck officers outranked the Engineering officers.

On January 17, 1920, War Department Circular 15 authorized a set of rank insignia using brown embroidered trade badges over brown cord cuff braid. A Fouled Anchor badge indicated a Deck Officer and a Propeller badge indicated a Engineering Officer. The brown cord bands represented the burlap sack strands originally used as informal cuff insignia by the crew's officers.

Army Mine Planter Service Warrant Officer Insignia (1920-1954)
Deck Officers
Rank Monthly
Master $185 An embroidered 1-inch fouled anchor
over 4 Bands of 1/2-inch brown braid.
First Mate $141 An embroidered 1-inch fouled anchor
over 3 Bands of 1/2-inch brown braid.
Second Mate $109 An embroidered 1-inch fouled anchor
over 2 Bands of 1/2-inch brown braid.
Engineering Officers
Rank Monthly
Chief Engineer $175 An embroidered 1-inch three-vaned propeller
over 4 Bands of 1/2-inch brown braid.
Assistant Engineer $120 An embroidered 1-inch three-vaned propeller
over 3 Bands of 1/2-inch brown braid.
Second Assistant Engineer $120 An embroidered 1-inch three-vaned propeller
over 2 Bands of 1/2-inch brown braid.

On August 21, 1941 Public Law 77–230, Section 4 declared that Masters and Chief Engineers were to be classed as Chief Warrant Officers. The Mates and Assistant Engineers were to be classed as Warrant Officers (Junior Grade).

The Mine Planter Service ranks and their insignia were officially discontinued in 1954, although the Coastal Artillery Corps was disestablished in 1950 and its Mine Planter Service had been disestablished on June 30, 1947.

Warrant Officer [1941 - 1956][edit | edit source]

US-Army-Ranks WW2 Warrant-Officer (1941-1954).jpg

On August 21, 1941 Public Law 77–230 was passed by Congress, authorizing the two ranks of Warrant Officer (Junior Grade) and Chief Warrant Officer. The number of warrant officers in service had to be less than or equal to 1% of the total force and Chief Warrant Officers could not number more than 40% of the total number of warrant officers.

The Secretary of War could make temporary appointments to the rank of warrant officer less or equal to 1/2% of the total force (i.e., 50% of the total authorized number of warrant officers). Temporary warrant officers served at the pleasure of the Department of War during wartime or a period of national emergency for its duration plus an additional six months. Enlisted personnel who served as temporary warrant officers would revert to their former rank and got credit for their service time towards benefits and pension.

The rank of Warrant Officer (Junior Grade) would receive the same pay and allowances as an Army Field Clerk ($148 / month). Insignia was a gold bar 3/8 inch [0.95 cm] wide and 1 inch [2.54 cm] long, rounded at the ends inlaid with brown enamel on top and a latitudinal strip of gold in the center 1/8 inch [0.32 cm] wide. Warrant Officer (Junior Grade) candidates had to have at least one year in active service.

The Chief Warrant Officer would receive the same pay and allowances as an Army Mine Planter Service Chief Engineer ($175 / month). The insignia was a gold bar 3/8 inch [0.95 cm] in width and 1 inch [2.54 cm] in length with rounded ends, brown enamel on top with a longitudinal rounded center stripe of gold 1/8 inch [0.32 cm] wide. Chief Warrant Officer candidates had to have at least ten years of active service as either a Warrant Officer Junior Grade, a staff Warrant Officer, or a Master or Chief Engineer warrant officer of the Army Mine Planter Service.

Gold was chosen as the insignia's metal because it was used for subordinate officer ranks. Brown enamel was chosen as it was the color of the cuff braid for the Army Mine Planter Service.

Post-War Reforms[edit | edit source]

In 1949, the Career Compensation Act (Public Law 81–351) expanded the pay grades for warrant officer to four: 1 grade for Warrant Officer (Junior Grade) (W-1) and 3 grades for Chief Warrant Officer (W-2, W-3 and W-4). In 1954 the Warrant Officer Act (Public Law 83–379) changed the pay grades of warrant officer into four distinct ranks: Warrant Officer 1 (WO/1), Chief Warrant Officer 2 (CWO/2), Chief Warrant Officer 3 (CWO/3), and Chief Warrant Officer 4 (CWO/4).

The old warrant officer insignia was abolished and replaced with new designs in 1956. They consisted of a vertical gold or silver frame around a brown enamel rectangle. A Warrant Officer 1 had a gold frame with 1 horizontal crossbar and a Chief Warrant Officer 2 had a gold frame with 2 horizontal crossbars. A Chief Warrant Officer 3 had a silver frame with 1 horizontal crossbar and a Chief Warrant Officer 4 had a silver frame with 2 horizontal crossbars. These designs would stay in use until 1970, when they were replaced with a vertical silver bar with 1 to 4 black enamel squares on it to indicate rank.

The US Air Force separated from the US Army in 1947 as part of the National Security Act of 1947. Its Warrant Officer program was discontinued in 1959, although the Warrant Officers were allowed to retain their rank. New supervisory non-commissioned officers received the "super grades" of Senior Master Sergeant (E-8) and Chief Master Sergeant (E-9) instead. The last active USAF Warrant Officer, CWO-4 James H. Long, retired in 1980 and the last US Air Force Reserve Warrant Officer, CWO-4 Bob Barrow, retired in 1992 with the honorary rank of CWO-5.

Flight Officer [1942-1945][edit | edit source]

Flight-Officer Insignia.JPG

Prior to 1942, all Army Air Force pilots were either enlisted men or officers. Officers flew fighter planes and non-commissioned officers flew gliders, liaison aircraft, transports, and bombers. This led to an inequality between them, as enlisted pilots didn't receive the same pay or privileges that officer pilots did. In July 18, 1942 Congress passed Public Law 77–658 (the Flight Officer Act), which created the rank of Flight Officer. On November 7, 1942 War Department Circular 366 authorized for the rank of Flight Officer to wear the oval insignia of a Warrant Officer (Junior Grade), except that it had a blue enamel backing instead of brown (thus its nickname of the "Blue Pickle").

Originally Aviation Cadets graduating as fighter pilots graduated as Second Lieutenants with the top percentile graduating as First Lieutenants - while glider, transport, and bomber pilots graduated as Sergeants with the top percentile graduating as Staff Sergeants. Aviation Cadets would now graduate as Flight Officers, with the top 10% of the class graduating as Second Lieutenants. Flight Officers received the same pay as Warrant Officers (Junior Grade), except they received a 50% Flight Pay increase.

Flight Officers were superior in rank to all enlisted and non-commissioned ranks, as well as all Army Ground Force and Army Air Force Warrant Officers (Junior Grade) and Chief Warrant Officers. A Flight Officer serving as an aircraft's pilot was considered the senior crew-member and the aircraft's commander, even if the aircrew had commissioned officers. The rank was also used by aircrew like Navigators, Bombardiers, and Flight Engineers. Radiomen were trained by the Signal Corps and graduated as Sergeants or Staff Sergeants.

The rank of Flight Officer was discontinued in 1945 when the number of officer pilots grew high enough to replace them. US Army Warrant Officer pilot training didn't resume until 1949 when they began to use large numbers of helicopters.

Officer Rank History[edit | edit source]

All of the officer ranks were created during the Revolutionary War and were based on those used by the British Army. The seniormost rank of Lieutenant-General was held only by George Washington as supreme commander of the Continental forces.

Officer's pay was originally set at a fixed yearly amount per rank and pay raises had to go through Congress. In the 1920s reforms were passed that paid out the salary in "pay periods" - bands of pay that roughly corresponded with officer ranks. This rewarded longevity in rank with higher pay. Special pay and added benefits were available to offset cost-of-living expenses like rent and food. Officers did not receive a pay grade until the passing of the Career Compensation Act of 1949 (Public Law 81-351 - October 12, 1949) and would not use the "O"-prefix until 1955.

Development of Officer Rank Insignia[edit | edit source]

Initially, officer insignia was silver or gold metal lace epaulets worn on one or both shoulders to indicate rank. Infantry subaltern officers (Ensigns, Lieutenants and Captains) carried half-pikes called spadroons as the symbol of their authority. Cavalry and artillery subaltern officers carried swords, as did Field and General Officers.

In the 1830s rank insignia were adopted with the adding of bars for subalterns (Lieutenants and Captains), an oak leaf for field officers (Majors and Lieutenant-Colonels), an eagle for colonels, and one or more stars for Generals. The rank of Ensign (called a Cornet in the Cavalry) did not receive insignia (a single gold bar) until 1917 and were identified by their bare epaulets. Officers assigned to "Dismounted" units (Infantry and "walking" branches like the Engineers) wore silver buttons and gold-embroidered insignia on silver epaulets. Officers assigned to "Mounted" units (Cavalry, Dragoons and "riding" branches like the Artillery and Mounted Rifles) wore gold buttons and silver-embroidered insignia on gold epaulets. The insignia and epaulet colors were reversed for Majors (i.e., silver-on-gold for Infantry and gold-on-silver for Cavalry) to difference them from Lieutenant-Colonels. Subalterns (Ensigns, Lieutenants, and Captains) wore plain epaulets. Field Officers (Majors, Lieutenant-Colonels, and Colonels) and General Officers (Brigadier-General, Major-General, and Lieutenant-General) wore fringed epaulets.

In 1835 the Shoulder Strap replaced the epaulet for wear on the frock coat in the field. It was a rectangular vertical piece of dark blue cloth with a raised yellow cloth border worn on the coat's shoulders over the attachment point for the epaulets. The officer's embroidered insignia of rank was worn facing on each end of the strap (except for Colonels and Generals, who wore their single insignia facing inwards). The field of the strap was changed from dark blue to branch colors in 1851 with the adoption of the French-style frock coat. The shoulder strap is still used today with the Army Dress Blue uniform.

In 1851 the rank insignia for colonels was standardized as a silver eagle. The ranks of Ensign and Cornet were merged to 2nd Lieutenant for all branches in 1871. In 1872 to reduce confusion the rank insignia were standardized at 1 silver bar for Lieutenants, 2 conjoined silver bars for Captains, a gold oak-leaf for Majors, a silver oak-leaf for Lieutenant-Colonels, a silver eagle for Colonels, 1 silver star for Brigadier-Generals, 2 silver stars for Major-Generals, and 3 silver stars for Lieutenant-Generals.

In 1871 the French were defeated by the Prussians in the Franco-Prussian War. This led to the US Army uniform discarding its French influences and briefly adopting Prussian and British ones for the remainder of the 19th century. The dress uniform adopted Prussian-style lace shoulder knots to indicate officer ranks. In 1881 the Army adopted a navy-blue British-style pith helmet with a brass helmet plate, a Prussian-style Pickelhaube ornament on top, and cloth or lace cap-line cords. This was issued until the Service Blue uniform was discarded in 1902 and replaced with the Service Olive Drab and Field Khaki uniforms.

General of the Army Rank[edit | edit source]

General of the Armies[edit | edit source]

The rank of General of the Armies was granted to only two men in US history.
The three-star version of the rank, General of the Armies, was created in 1799 for George Washington for his service commanding the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War (1775-1783) and acting as Senior Officer of the American Army from July, 1798 until his death in December, 1799. Washington died before he could be awarded it. The promotion was posthumously granted on January 19, 1976 by an act of congress, signed into law on October 11, 1976 by President Gerald Ford (Public Law 94-479), and approved by Secretary of the Army Clifford Alexander on March 15, 1978. The act also declared that Washington's General of the Armies rank would supersede in seniority any American Army ranks, current or future.
The five-star version, dubbed General of the Armies of the United States, was granted to General John J. Pershing in September 3, 1919 by an act of congress (Public Law 66-45) for his service in World War One as commander of the American Expeditionary Force in Europe. Although an insignia was designed by Pershing (a row of four gold stars) and worn by him in his official portrait, it was never officially authorized for wear by the Army. The appointment ended with Pershing's retirement in 1924 but he still held it as his retired service rank until his death in 1948. It is considered superior to the five-star General of the Army and four-star General of the Army of the United States ranks in seniority.

General of the Army of the United States[edit | edit source]

The four-star rank General of the Army of the United States was granted to only three Civil War generals: Ulysses S. Grant (July 25, 1866 to March 4, 1869), William T. Sherman (March 8, 1869 to November 1, 1883), and Philip H. Sheridan (June 1, 1888 to August 5, 1888). It was granted by an act of congress as an augmentation to the holder of the three-star general rank of Commanding General of the US Army for their service in the war. Grant received it a year after the Civil War ended and held it until he resigned his post to serve as president in 1869. Sherman received it days after succeeding Grant. However, the controversial Sheridan didn't get promoted to the higher rank until just before his death. It is considered superior to the conventional four-star rank of General.

General [edit | edit source]

The four-star regular rank of General was first created temporarily in 1917. It was granted to Major-Generals Tasker Bliss and Peyton C. March (the consecutive Army Chiefs of Staff during World War One) and Major-General John J. Pershing (commander of the American Expeditionary Force) to grant them equivalent rank to the Allied Generals they would be dealing with. It would not be granted again until the US Army expanded during World War Two.

General of the Army[edit | edit source]

The five-star General of the Army rank was approved on December 14, 1944 under Public Law 78-482 as a temporary rank and was made permanent in 1946. It was an honorary rank equivalent to that of Field Marshal in European armies rather than a higher command rank. Only five men were awarded with the rank of General of the Army and only four were made during the war. It was considered inferior to the honorary five-star rank of General of the Armies of the United States but superior to the honorary four-star rank of General of the Army of the United States and the regular four-star rank of General. It was the first honorary rank to be given to multiple holders simultaneously. Seniority between the rank's holders was by the date it was granted.

  • General George C. Marshall [US Army Chief of Staff] (December 16, 1944)
  • General Douglas MacArthur [Supreme Commander - Southwest Pacific Area] (December 18, 1944)
  • General Dwight D. Eisenhower [Supreme Commander - Europe] (December 20, 1944)
  • General Henry H. Arnold [Commander of the US Army Air Forces] (December 21, 1944); [General of the Air Force] (May 7, 1949)
  • General Omar N. Bradley [Commander of US First Army (June, 1944), Commander of the 12th Army Group (August, 1944), first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (August, 1949 - August, 1953)] (September 22, 1950)

The promotions were made parallel to the Navy's 5-star Fleet Admiral promotions. They were staggered so the Navy, the "Senior Service", would have precedence over the Army.

Although General Henry H. "Hap" Arnold retired in 1946, he retained his rank of General of the Army even after the Army Air Force became a separate service in 1947. This was changed under Public Law 81-58 in 1949 to General of the Air Force (GAF) to reflect the now independent nature of the Air Force. Arnold's official portrait was retaken in Air Force dress uniform wearing the new insignia. Arnold was the only holder of the rank, although General Curtis LeMay was proposed for it when he commanded the Strategic Air Command (1948-1957). Arnold remains the only person in American history to hold a 5-star General appointment in two different services.

General Omar Bradley was later promoted to 5-star General rank in 1950 for two reasons. One was so as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff he could be on par with General Douglas MacArthur, who was still serving at the time. The second was as a reward for his World War Two service and his popularity as the "Soldier's General".

General of the Armies[edit | edit source]

A six-star General of the Armies rank was considered for a potential theater-level commanding general but it was later shelved and never awarded. The first time was in June, 1945, when General Douglas MacArthur was proposed to be supreme commander of all Allied forces in Operation: Downfall, the plan for the invasion of the Japanese home islands. A second time was in 1955 in which it was proposed for a potential US general commanding NATO.

Enlisted Ranks (1920-1948)[edit | edit source]

Enlisted Ranks Before July 1, 1942 Enlisted Ranks After July 1, 1942
Rank Abbrev. Pay
Rank Abbrev. Pay
Private Pvt. G-7 $21 Private Pvt. G-7 $50
Private First Class Pfc. G-6 $30 Private First Class Pfc. G-6 $54
Specialist Spec. G-6 Var. Technician
Fifth Grade
T/5 G-5 $66
Corporal Cpl. G-5 $42 Corporal Cpl. G-5 $66
Fourth Grade
T/4 G-4 $78
Sergeant Sgt. G-4 $54 Sergeant Sgt. G-4 $78
Third Grade
T/3 G-3 $96
Staff Sergeant S/Sgt. G-3 $72 Staff Sergeant S/Sgt. G-3 $96
Technical Sergeant T/Sgt. G-2 $84 Technical Sergeant T/Sgt. G-2 $114
First Sergeant 1st Sgt. G-2 $84 First Sergeant 1st Sgt. G-1 $138
Master Sergeant M/Sgt. G-1 $126 Master Sergeant M/Sgt. G-1 $138
  • The Service Extension Act of 1941 (Public Law 77-213; August 18, 1941), authorized +$10 per month additional pay after one year's service in any grade to personnel called up under the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940[1].
  • The Pay Readjustment Act of 1942 (Public Law 77-607; June 16, 1942) reformed the pay system in the military.
    • It increased monthly pay and allowances for servicemen in the Army while establishing the same pay and pay grade system for the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Coast and Geodetic Survey, and Public Health Service.
    • It granted a base pay increase of 5% per three years of service, up to a maximum of 50% after 30 years of service. Soldiers serving outside of the United States (including service in the Territories of Hawaii and Alaska) received Overseas Pay (a 20% bonus to base pay).
    • It granted a $2 pay bonus to soldiers for each award of the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, or the Soldier's Medal.
    • Paratroopers and Paratroopers-in-training received a Hazard Pay bonus of $50 a month, while Glider troops received Hazard Pay of $25 a month. Aircrewmen and enlisted Pilots received a 50% base pay increase if they were assigned to flight duty.
Specialist Ranks Before July 1, 1942 Technician Ranks After July 1, 1942
Rank Abbrev. Pay
Rank Abbrev. Pay
Private Specialist,
Sixth Class
Spl. 6cl G-7 (+$3) $24
Private Specialist,
Fifth Class
Spl. 5cl G-6 (+$6) $36
Private Specialist,
Fourth Class
Spl. 4cl G-6 (+$15) $45 Technician
Fifth Grade
T/5 G-5 $66
Private Specialist,
Third Class
Spl. 3cl G-6 (+$20) $50 Technician
Fourth Grade
T/4 G-4 $78
Private Specialist,
Second Class
Spl. 2cl G-6 (+$25) $55 Technician
Third Grade
T/3 G-3 $96
Private Specialist,
First Class
Spl. 1cl G-6 (+$30) $60

Warrant Officer Ranks (1941-1945)[edit | edit source]

Rank Abbreviation Monthly
Warrant Officer (Junior Grade) WOJG $150 $1800
Chief Warrant Officer CWO $175 $2100
Flight Officer Flt.O $150* $1800*
  • Flight Officers received a 50% Flight Pay bonus, making their pay actually $225 a month / $2700 a year.

Officer Ranks[edit | edit source]

These base pay scales were in force from June 16, 1942 to June 31, 1946.

Rank Abbreviation Pay
Second Lieutenant 2nd Lt. 1st $150 $1800
First Lieutenant 1st Lt. 2nd $166 $2000
Captain Cpt. 3rd $200 $2400
Major Maj. 4th $250 $3000
Lieutenant Colonel Lt. Col. 5th $291 $3500
Colonel Col. 6th $333 $4000
Brigadier General Brig. Gen. 7th $500 $6000
Major General Maj. Gen. 8th $666 $8000
Lieutenant General Lt. Gen. 8th $666 $8000
General Gen. 8th $666 $8000
General of the Army GA 8th $666 $8000
  • Officers with seniority in rank would be paid at the next Pay Period level.
    • 2nd Lieutenant (or equivalent): 5 or more years of service.
    • 1st Lieutenant (or equivalent): 10 or more years of service.
    • Captain (or equivalent): 17 or more years of service.
    • Major (or equivalent): 23 or more years of service.
    • Lieutenant-Colonel (or equivalent): 30 or more years of service.
    • Colonels and General Officers did not receive this increase.
  • Officers who were qualified paratroopers or who were undergoing airborne training received a $100 bonus to base pay. Later, officers who were assigned to a glider infantry unit received a $50 Hazard Pay bonus. Commissioned pilots or aircrew assigned to Flight Duty received a 50% Flight Pay increase to base pay.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Fall In" - Greetings to the men who serve today from your comrades of 1917 and 1918, Pay and Allowances [American Legion (1941)]

Links[edit | edit source]

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.