What Branch of the Military Is This Famous Officer Known for Serving In?



By: Marty Sems

7 Min Quiz

Image: Nellis Television via Youtube/DoD News Features via Wiki Commons/Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

Our public life, especially politics, is full of men and women with military careers in their backgrounds.  Military service in the United States has been highly respected for most of our history, and those who have served get a bit of extra consideration when it comes to hiring or running for public office. In this quiz, we'll show you some famous faces and see if you can remember which branch of the service they served! Just for fun, we've thrown in some famous names from other world armed forces.

The United States has five branches of its armed forces: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. There are rumors of a "Space Force" yet to be created, but I think the death rays and anti-gravity boots are still in development.  Each branch has its own set of requirements and jobs to do, but they all share certain core principles and values.  The Marine Corps motto is Semper Fidelis, which means "always faithful," but in some respects that could apply to every branch of the service.  Those who enlist are committed to serving the country, even if it means putting their lives in danger.

That, then, is an excellent explanation for why so many famous and successful people come from military backgrounds. Once you've committed to putting your life on the line for your country, a board meeting really doesn't seem so scary. See how many of these famous folks you can put in the right military branches!

What branch of the military is R. Lee Ermey known for serving in?

Ronald Lee “Gunny” Ermey was a real-life Marine combat veteran and drill instructor, but he became iconic for playing one in the movies: He stole the show as the over-the-top Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in Full Metal Jacket (1987, Warner Bros). Ermey continued to act on TV and in motion pictures, providing the voice of the Sergeant of the little green Army men in the Toy Story movies (1995-2010, Disney).


What branch of the military is Theodore Roosevelt known for serving in?

Teddy Roosevelt was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1897, where he pressed for naval readiness and additional battleships to be built. However, his military reputation was to be forged on the ground. The following year he resigned and formed the First US Volunteer Cavalry Regiment (aka the Rough Riders) to fight the Spanish in Cuba, where he led his men in a famous but costly charge up Kettle Hill. After the war, he became the 26th President of the United States.


Which branch of the military did Colin Powell serve in?

Colin Powell served two tours of duty in Vietnam as an Army officer, where he won medals for rescuing fellow soldiers and sustaining wounds in battle. He went on to become a four-star general and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Powell later served as the first African-American Secretary of State under President George W. Bush during the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.


What branch of the military is Shaye Lynne Haver known for serving in?

Captain Shaye Lynne Haver and her classmate Kristen Griest became the first two women to complete Army Ranger training in 2015. Prior to that, she earned a commission as an aviation officer. At this writing, she serves in the 82nd Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team and plans to lead a company of rifle infantry.


Which branch of the military did Curtis LeMay serve in?

Pugnacious and uncompromising, Air Force General Curtis LeMay directed World War II bombing missions in the European and later Pacific Theaters. He came up with the incendiary raids that burned much of Tokyo, believing that they were necessary to degrade Japan’s manufacturing base and demoralize its citizens. After heading the US Strategic Air Command postwar, LeMay retired from the military and became running mate to the controversial George Wallace in the 1968 election for President of the United States. He inspired the satirical character General Jack D. Ripper played by George C. Scott in the movie Dr. Strangelove (1964 Columbia Pictures).


Which branch of the military did Erich Hartmann serve in?

World War II German fighter pilot Erich Hartmann shot down a mind-boggling 352 enemy airplanes in the course of his 1,404 combat missions. He used the speed of his Messerschmitt Bf 109 to stalk and eliminate enemy aircraft. The Soviets along the Eastern Front soon termed the flying ace “The Black Devil.”


What branch of the military is Gilbert "Hashmark" Johnson known for serving in?

Beginning in 1923, Sergeant Major Gilbert "Hashmark" Johnson served in the United States Army, Naval Reserves, Navy proper and Marine Corps. He got his nickname from having more enlistment hash marks than rank chevrons on the sleeve of his uniform. He became one of the first drill instructors in the newly integrated Marines, and in Guam in WWII he convinced his CO to allow African-American troops into combat roles.


Which branch of the military did Giora Epstein serve in?

Israeli pilot Giora Epstein holds the record for shooting down the most enemy planes (17) in a supersonic jet fighter. He flew a Dassault-derived IAI Nesher and a Dassault Mirage III in the Arab–Israeli Wars of 1967 to 1973. In the Yom Kippur War (1973), alone against 11 Egyptian MiG-21 Fishbed fighters, Epstein shot down four and made it back to base alive.


What branch of the military is Wilhelm Canaris known for serving in?

Admiral Wilhelm Franz Canaris was a naval officer in World War I, but it was his later role as a conspirator against Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler that intrigues historians. Canaris became head of the Abwehr, German military intelligence, in 1935. Convinced that Hitler’s policies would ruin Germany, he recruited like-minded conspirators. After the failed attempt on the Fuhrer’s life in July 1944, Canaris was arrested and executed the following spring.


Which branch of the military did Chuck Yeager serve in?

Charles Elwood ”Chuck” Yeager became the first person to break the sound barrier. He piloted the Bell X-1 rocket plane beyond Mach 1 in 1947, and later set an airspeed record of Mach 2.4 in 1953. He helped train American astronauts during the Space Race, and flew combat missions in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.


What branch of the military is Richard Winters known for serving in?

Lt. Dick Winters became a household name in the miniseries Band of Brothers (2001 HBO Home Entertainment). Played by actor Damien Lewis, Winters epitomized level-headed leadership and tactical daring. Winters and his Easy Company fought with distinction in the 1944 Normandy invasion, in the Netherlands, and in the Battle of the Bulge, later capturing Hitler’s Eagles Nest mountain retreat.


Which branch of the military did Yi Sun-Shin serve in?

Yi Sun-Shin never lost a naval battle, which helped to protect his Korean homeland during a 1592 invasion by Japan. He invented the ironclad armored battleship, and emphasized his men’s military readiness and training. When the Japanese invaded again several years later, wiping out most of the Korean navy, Yi Sun-Shin resumed command of the remnants and repelled the invaders.


What branch of the military is Rob O'Neill known for serving in?

Robert J. "Rob" O'Neill was the US Navy SEAL who shot and killed Osama bin Laden in the 2011 raid on his secret compound in Abottabad, Pakistan. The highly decorated member of SEAL Team Six has trained more than 800 special forces and has made more than 1,000 air operations jumps. In his post-military life, O’Neill has become a motivational speaker.


Which branch of the military did Audie Murphy serve in?

Audie Leon Murphy became the most decorated American soldier of World War II, ending that conflict with a rank of first lieutenant. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, and the Medal of Honor--the last of which he won for standing atop a burning tank destroyer for an hour, singlehandedly holding back a German advance with a mounted .50-caliber machine gun. Murphy authored the memoir “To Hell And Back” in 1949. He even starred in the hit movie version (1955 Universal Pictures), and acted in various other motion pictures.


What branch of the military is William Sherman known for serving in?

William Tecumseh Sherman returned to military service in 1861 as a colonel for the Union Army. After a rocky start at the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas) two months later, Sherman found his stride under General Ulysses S. Grant at Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and other battles. He captured Atlanta in 1864, and embarked on a devastating “March to the Sea” to Savannah before the end of that year. Half a decade later, then-President Grant named Sherman commanding general of the army.


Which branch of the military did John Glenn serve in?

You may know Col. John Glenn as the first American astronaut to orbit the earth, or as the senator from Ohio for a quarter-century. But before all that, he was already a highly decorated fighter pilot for the Marines, having shot down three enemy aircraft and earning multiple Distinguished Flying Crosses and Air Medals. Among other fighter planes, he flew an F-4U Corsair in World War II and an F-86F Sabre jet over Korea.


What branch of the military is Eddie Rickenbacker known for serving in?

Captain Edward Vernon "Eddie" Rickenbacker was America’s top flying ace in World War I. He downed 26 enemy aircraft, including four balloons used for observation. Later in life he was a race car driver and the chairman of Eastern Air Lines. Rickenbacker died in 1973.


Which branch of the military did Lawrence of Arabia serve in?

British legend Thomas Edward Lawrence, more commonly known as Lawrence of Arabia, spent much time in Syria as a youth studying castles, churches, and the Arab people. In World War I, he was sent to liaise with Prince Feisal in the Great Arab Revolt against Turkey. Lawrence went native, helping the Arab fighters destroy bridges and railroads to disrupt the Turks. After the war he shunned his fame and served a number of years in the Royal Air Force and the Army again.


What branch of the military is Douglas MacArthur known for serving in?

The “Defiant General” Douglas MacArthur rose to the ultimate rank in the US military, the five-star General of the Army, and yet was later removed from command by President Harry S. Truman for trying to expand the Korean War into Communist China. He had been the Army’s commander in the Pacific Theater of World War II, vowing “I shall return” when the Japanese drove his forces from the Philippines in 1942. He did so, and after the Philippines were liberated and the war won, MacArthur helmed the occupation of Japan until 1951.


Which branch of the military did The Red Baron serve in?

Manfred von Richthofen, the notorious Red Baron, was the top ace of World War I with 80 aerial kills to his credit. He flew for the Imperial German Army Air Service for Kaiser Wilhelm. Today, besides a frozen pizza bearing his nickname, he’s known for a long-running feud with Charles M. Schulz’s comic strip character Snoopy.


What branch of the military is Sergeant York known for serving in?

Sgt. Alvin Cullum York won the Distinguished Service Cross and later the Congressional Medal of Honor for attacking a German machine gun position during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive near the end of World War I. A crack shot, but religiously opposed to killing, York charged and neutralized the machine gun crew on his own while his men held captive a much larger group of German prisoners of war. Sgt. York also served in WWII, ended the war as a Major, then became a Colonel in the Tennessee State Guard.


Which branch of the military did Horatio Nelson serve in?

Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson was the most celebrated commander in the British Navy. Despite the loss of one arm and most of the vision in one eye, Nelson’s cunning (along with a willingness to disobey counterproductive orders) won him victories against the Spanish, French, and Danish. Nelson was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, which nevertheless safeguarded England from the threat of a Napoleonic invasion.


What branch of the military is George S. Patton known for serving in?

General George Smith Patton, Jr. was a hard-charging, tank-oriented warrior whose men nicknamed him “Old Blood and Guts.” As a US Army Tank Corps commander in late World War I, he was wounded and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. However, it was as a general in World War II that Patton’s combative style achieved maximum effect. He drove his tanks across North Africa, up through Sicily and Italy, and across northern France. As the Soviet Union and the Allies met in Berlin as Nazi Germany fell, Patton advocated strongly for an invasion of Russia next.


Which branch of the military did Neil Armstrong serve in?

Another famous astronaut from Ohio, Neil Alden Armstrong was the first person to walk on Earth’s Moon on July 20, 1969. A couple decades before that, however, he flew for the Navy in the Korean War, earning three Air Medals. He also piloted experimental aircraft including the North American X-15, still the fastest airplane ever flown (Mach 6.72). After his spacegoing years, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and the Congressional Gold Medal.


What branch of the military is Isoroku Yamamoto known for serving in?

Japanese Combined Fleet Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was familiar with the United States from a 1926-1927 stint as a naval attache in the country’s Washington, D.C. embassy. He cautioned his government that a war against the US would only be winnable if Japan knocked out America within a year. To that end, when called upon to attack, Yamamoto planned and executed the effective surprise assault on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. A year and a half later, American P-38 Lightnings shot down Yamamoto’s plane over Bougainville Island in April 1943 after codebreakers deciphered Japanese radio communications.


Which branch of the military did Jeannie Leavitt serve in?

Brigadier General Jean Marie "Tally" Leavitt became America’s first female fighter pilot after combat restrictions were eliminated in 1993. She flew 300 combat hours over Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. Later, she became the first woman to command a US combat fighter wing, the 57th at Nellis Air Force Base. She has earned four Master’s degrees, including one in aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford.


What branch of the military is Kingman Douglass known for serving in?

As a pilot in World War I, Kingman Douglass was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Croix de Guerre with Palm. Later, in World War II, he was the Chief of Air Force Intelligence, working closely with Allied air forces. He helped to found the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency and later served as the CIA’s assistant director from 1950-1952.


Which branch of the military did Muhammad Mahmood Alam serve in?

Air Commodore M. M. Alam was a legend in the Pakistani Air Force. He downed nine Indian jet aircraft in the Indo-Pakistani War (1965)--five of them in less than a minute, making him an ace in a single day.


What branch of the military is Dan Daly known for serving in?

Sergeant Major Daniel Joseph Daly was a Marine’s Marine. With only a rifle, he defended American personnel throughout a bloody night in the Boxer Rebellion (1900), shooting 200 attackers. Later in Haiti (1915), he crept behind enemy lines, dove into a dark river in the dead of night and under fire to unstrap a heavy machine gun from a dead mule, and hauled the gun on his back through more enemy positions until he reached his men. He twice won the Medal of Honor as well as the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Service Cross, and a Silver Star.


Which branch of the military did William "Bull" Halsey serve in?

William Frederick "Bull" Halsey Jr. was a vice admiral when the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor left him commanding the United States’ only operational battle group in the Theater. His bold use of aircraft carriers earned him victory after victory, including at Guadalcanal and Leyte Gulf. After the war, he retired with the rank of fleet admiral.


What branch of the military is Smedley Butler known for serving in?

Major General Smedley Darlington Butler was one of the most revered Marines in the Corps. Like his comrade in arms Dan Daly, Butler was awarded two Medals of Honor, and yet the humble family man strongly felt he didn’t deserve all of his decorations. Later in life, and prior to World War II, Butler spoke out against the military industrial complex with his immortal phrase, “War is a racket.”


Which branch of the military did Daniel “Chappie” James serve in?

Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr. was the first African-American to become a full general in 1975. One of the Tuskegee Airmen, James flew more than 160 combat missions over Korea and Vietnam. He later became commander of the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) in the final years of his life. Moreover, James was an accomplished public speaker and advocate for racial justice.


What branch of the military is Chester Nimitz known for serving in?

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz commanded US sea, land, air, and submarine forces in the Pacific Theater in World War II. Employing overwhelming firepower, unrestricted submarine warfare, and “island-hopping” to take the war to Japan’s mainland, Nimitz degraded the enemy’s capabilities (if not fighting spirit) at Midway, the Coral Sea, the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. The Japanese signed the surrender on the deck of his flagship, the USS Missouri, ending the war on Sept. 2, 1945 (V-J Day).


Which branch of the military did Jimmy Doolittle serve in?

Lieutenant General James Harold Doolittle is best remembered for the psychological blow that his bombing raid dealt the Japanese a mere four months after Pearl Harbor. Doolittle’s sixteen B-25 Mitchell bombers, stripped down to be “flying gas cans” in order to extend their range, struck Tokyo, Yokohama, and other target cities before landing or crash-landing in China. Doolittle won the Congressional Medal of Honor and continued to direct air operations in both theaters of the war.


What branch of the military is Charles Bolden known for serving in?

Charles Frank Bolden, Jr. is an accomplished Marine airman who flew more than 100 combat missions over Vietnam in the late stages of that conflict. Later, after becoming an astronaut who helped to deploy the Hubble Space Telescope, Bolden returned to the Corps and was promoted to the rank of Major General. In 2009, he became the first African-American administrator of NASA.


Which branch of the military did Ambrose Burnside serve in?

This Civil War general was better known for his Dr. Seuss-like “sideburns” facial hair than for any major military accomplishments. Ambrose E. Burnside did take Roanoke Island and the sounds of North Carolina early in the war and later East Tennessee in 1863. However, his costly loss at Fredericksburg damaged his reputation, as did both fair and unfair accusations of blunders at Antietam, Chickamauga, and Petersburg.


What branch of the military is Robin Olds known for serving in?

Brigadier General Robin Olds is lauded as one of America’s top fighter pilots, with 16 aerial kills in World War II and the Vietnam War. In the latter, Olds came up with Operation Bolo to lure in enemy MiG-21s and destroy seven of them with F-4C Phantoms pretending to be F-105 bombers. Brash and self-assured, Olds constantly pressed for better training and planes, and he reportedly grew his signature handlebar mustache in defiance of his superior officers.


Which branch of the military did Chesty Puller serve in?

Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller became the sole Marine to earn five Navy Crosses, ending his career as a lieutenant general. In Nicaragua, at Guadalcanal, in Papua New Guinea and in Korea, Chesty Puller proved his cool-headed leadership under fire, especially in ambush and defensive situations. He also won the Silver Star and the Distinguished Service Cross, and there’s perennial talk of a posthumous Medal of Honor someday.


What branch of the military is Philip Sheridan known for serving in?

General Philip Henry Sheridan fought for the Union in the American Civil War. His cavalry hounded Confederate General Robert E. Lee and hastened the surrender of the South. However, his reputation is a dark one because of his scorched-earth burning of the conquered Shenandoah Valley and his postwar winter attacks on not only restive Native American warriors, but also their women and children. President Cleveland promoted him to General of the Army in 1888.


Which branch of the military did Samuel Nicholas serve in?

During the American Revolutionary War, Samuel Nicholas was sworn in as the first commissioned officer in the newly formed Continental Marines. Although a Quaker, Captain Nicholas took up arms to defend the fledgling United States against colonial England. In early 1776, "Skipper" Nicholas led the first Marine landing party to capture an enemy supply fort in the Bahamas without a single casualty. Later, under General George Washington, Nicholas and his Marines helped to rout some of English commander Cornwallis’s forces at Princeton, New Jersey. The powers that be made him recruit and train new Marines when he would rather have been fighting, but there’s no denying that he cast the mold that shapes the Corps to this day.


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