This Veterans Day, we salute the veterans of the armed forces of the United States by giving a brief history of the founding of each of the five services.
All information below, and much more can be found at the U.S. Army Center of Military History.
The Continental Army was created on June 14, 1775, by the Continental Congress as a unified army for the colonies to fight Great Britain, with George Washington himself appointed as its commander.
In 2011, the regular Army reported a strength of 546,057 soldiers, the Army National Guard reported 358,078 and the United States Army Reserve reported 201,166. These amount to a combined strength of 1,105,301 soldiers.
The Continental Congress established the national navy, under some contention between congressmen. Finally, the army’s commander in chief, George Washington, ended the congressional debate when he commissioned seven cruisers, starting with the USS Hannah in 1775, to interdict British supply ships. After reporting the ship captures to Congress, the navy was officially recognized and supported as the Continental Navy.
Today, the United States Navy has 325,143 personnel on active duty and 107,355 in the Navy Reserve. As of October 2014, it has over 3,700 aircraft and 289 ships (among other watercraft) in service.
U.S. Air Force
The Air Force has undergone many incarnations to become what it is today, and the first appeared in 1907, as the U.S. Signal Corps, Aeronautical Division. Before 1947, the responsibility for military aviation was shared between divisions within the Army, the Navy and the Marine Corps. The U.S. Air Force became a separate military service on Sept. 18, 1947, as part of the National Security Act of 1947.
Today, the U.S. Air Force’s personnel roster boasts 332,854 active duty personnel, 71,400 Air Force Reserve personnel and 106,700 in the Air National Guard.
U.S. Marine Corps
The colorful and storied history of the U.S. Marine Corps began in a tavern at the corner of Tun Alley and Water Street, where Captain Samuel Nicholas, authorized by a resolution of the Second Continental Congress on Nov. 10, 1775, was to raise two battalions of Marines, with authority to “act to provide a Naval Armament.” That date is regarded and celebrated as the Marine Corps’ birthday.
Today, the U.S. Marine Corps comprises 194,000 active duty members and 40,000 reserve Marines as of 2010. Historically and today, it is the smallest of the U.S. Armed Forces in the U.S. Department of Defense.
U.S. Coast Guard
The Coast Guard began as the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service founded by Alexander Hamilton under the Department of the Treasury on Aug. 4, 1790. Until the re-establishment of the Navy in 1798, the Revenue Cutter Service was the only naval force of the early United States. The modern Coast Guard can be said to date to Jan. 28, 1915, when the Revenue Cutter Service and the U.S. Life-Saving Service were officially combined. As one of the country’s five armed services, the Coast Guard has been involved in every war from 1790 up to the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan.
As of 2012, troops serving in the Coast Guard number 42,000 on active duty, 7,900 reservists and 32,000 auxiliary members. The U.S. Coast Guard is the world’s 12th largest naval force.
To the men and women who have donned these uniforms, we express our deepest thanks for your courage, service and sacrifices.Written by: