A history of our military branches

Air Force

According to the National Security Act of 1947, the Air Force’s mission is to prepare the air forces necessary for effective prosecution of war unless assigned otherwise and, in accordance with integrated joint mobilization plans, for the expansion of the peacetime components of the Air Force to meet the needs of war. The Air Force is actually one of three military departments within the Department of Defense. It is managed by the civilian Secretary of the Air Force and under the control of the Secretary of Defense.
Their jobs include explosive ordnance disposal, combat rescue, pararescue, security forces, combat control, combat weather tactical air control party and agents who disarm bombs, rescue downed or isolated personnel, call in air strikes and set up landing zones in forward locations. However, other jobs range from flight combat operations to working in a dining facility. These fields include computer specialties, mechanic specialties, communications systems, avionics technicians, medical specialties, civil engineering, public affairs and more.
The US Army Signal Corps began the Aeronautical Division in 1907, in the wake of the Wright brothers’ flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903. The division experimented with aircraft and mostly explored balloons and dirigibles. In 1914, the Army started the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps, and soon thereafter World War I began. However, all the other European combatants’ ariel technology outstripped American technology.
President Woodrow Wilson took notice and established the Army Air Service, placed directly under the War Department, on May 24, 1918. The Air Service grew to more than 19,000 officers, 178,000 enlisted men and 11,754 aircrafts. Post-war demobilization and a name change resulted in the Air Corps, a modest peacetime operation.
World War II came. The Department of War created the Army Air Forces (AAF), and deemed it equal to the Army Ground Forces. The Air Corps remained a branch of the Army, subordinate to the AAF. The AAF fought in every theater of war and had 80,000 aircraft and 2.4 million personnel at its peak. Again, American demobilized post-war, and the US Air Force finally earned its independence from the Army on September 18, 1947.
The increased power of new aviation technology, the Vietnam War and the Cold War arms race accelerated the capabilities of the US Air Force. The Air Force also began to explore space with the advent of launch vehicles and orbital satellites. In the 1970s, the Air Force focused on modernizing its fleet and missiles. The Iran hostage crisis spurred America to further develop the Air Force. By the 1990s, a collapsed Soviet Union led the US to streamline the Air Force and downsize it overall.

Colors Ultramarine blue and air force yellow
Motto “Aim High … Fly-Fight-Win”
Song “The Air Force Song”
Off we go into the wild blue yonder,
Climbing high into the sun;
Here they come zooming to meet our thunder,
At ‘em boys, Give ‘er the gun! (Give ‘er the gun now!)
Down we dive, spouting our flame from under,
Off with one helluva roar!
We live in fame or go down in flame. Hey!
Nothing’ll stop the US Air Force!
Minds of men fashioned a crate of thunder,
Sent it high into the blue;
Hands of men blasted the world asunder;
How they lived God only knew! (God only knew then!)
Souls of men dreaming of skies to conquer
Gave us wings, ever to soar!
With scouts before And bombers galore. Hey!
Nothing’ll stop the US Air Force!
Here’s a toast to the host
Of those who love the vastness of the sky,
To a friend we send a message of his brother men who fly.
We drink to those who gave their all of old,
Then down we roar to score the rainbow’s pot of gold.
A toast to the host of men we boast, the US Air Force!
Off we go into the wild sky yonder,
Keep the wings level and true;
If you’d live to be a grey-haired wonder
Keep the nose out of the blue! (Out of the blue, boy!)
Flying men, guarding the nation’s border,
We’ll be there, followed by more!
In echelon we carry on. Hey!
Nothing’ll stop the US Air Force!


The Army is the oldest branch of the US military that provides land-based military operations. Their mission is to fight and win wars by providing prompt, sustained land dominance across the range of military operations and spectrum of conflict in support of commanders. They accomplish missions assigned by the President, Secretary of Defense and combatant commanders.
The Army is divided into major branches: Air Defense Artillery, Infantry, Aviation, Signal Corps, Corps of Engineers and Armor. The Army is made up of three components. The active component is the Regular Army. The two reserve components are the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve. These are part-time soldiers who train once a month. These are known as unit-training assemblies. They conduct two to three weeks of annual training each year.
The Army is led by a civilian Secretary of the Army, who conducts all affairs of the Army under the authority, direction and control of the Secretary of Defense. The Chief of the Staff is the highest-ranked military officer in the Army. This person is the military advisor and executive agent for the Secretary of the Army along with a Joint Chiefs of Staff member, a body of the service chiefs from each of the Department of Defense military services who advise the President, Secretary of Defense and National Security Council.
The Army also has both an operational and institutional portion. The operational Army consists of armies, corps, divisions, brigades and battalions that conduct a full spectrum of international operations. The institutional Army trains, equips, deploys and ensure readiness to support the operational Army.
It began as the Continental Army in 1775, formed by The Second Continental Congress in response to the Revolutionary War. George Washington was its commander-in-chief. Prior to this formalized national army, there were only cobbled-together, local militias without a chain of command. Washington described his new army as, “A mixed multitude of people under very little discipline, order or government.”
With the Revolutionary War over, the Continental Congress disbanded the Continental Army in 1784. Congress did not wish the United States to have a standing army during peacetime. However, conflicts with Native Americans spurred Congress to allow and create The Legion of the United States. Its four sub-legions would go on to become the first four regiments of the US Army.
The Army went on to fight the British in the War of 1812, then afterwards was heavily involved in US western expansion, fighting Native Americans and winning the Mexican-American War in 1848. The Civil War began in 1861 and split the nation, and the Army. The Army re-combined in its aftermath and won the Spanish-American War in 1898, followed by victory in the Philippine-American War, which lasted from 1899 to 1902.
As America entered the 20th century, it entered both World War I and World War II.
Next came the Korean War amid the larger Cold War, followed by the Vietnam War. The 1990s saw the Persian Gulf War in response to the invasion of Kuwait. The 2000s witnessed the military occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq in the wake of 9/11.

Motto “This We’ll Defend”
Official song of the Army “The Army Goes Rolling Along”
Intro: March along, sing our song, with the Army of the free
Count the brave, count the true, who have fought to victory
We’re the Army and proud of our name
We’re the Army and proudly proclaim

Verse: First to fight for the right,
And to build the Nation’s might,
And The Army Goes Rolling Along
Proud of all we have done,
Fighting till the battle’s won,
And the Army Goes Rolling Along.

Refrain: Then it’s Hi! Hi! Hey!
The Army’s on its way.
Count off the cadence loud and strong (TWO! THREE!)
For where e’er we go,
You will always know
That The Army Goes Rolling Along.

Verse: Valley Forge, Custer’s ranks,
San Juan Hill and Patton’s tanks,
And the Army went rolling along
Minute men, from the start,
Always fighting from the heart,
And the Army keeps rolling along.

Verse: Men in rags, men who froze,
Still that Army met its foes,
And the Army went rolling along.
Faith in God, then we’re right,
And we’ll fight with all our might,
As the Army keeps rolling along.

Coast Guard

George Washington authorized and began the Coast Guard, then known as the “cutters,” on Aug. 4, 1790 as part of the Tariff Act. Ten vessels would enforce federal and tariff laws, and stop smuggling. As the infant nation grew, the scope of the “Revenue Cutter Service” grew. The US Coast Guard was founded then, but it was established on Jan. 28, 1915 to be an official military branch. There are 11 missions dealing with ports, waterways and coastal security, drug interdiction, aids navigation, search and rescue, living marine services, marine safety, defense readiness, migrant interdiction, marine environmental protection, ice operations and other law enforcements. There are 38,000 active-duty men and women, 8,000 Reservists, and 35,000 Auxiliary personnel who serve in a variety of job fields ranging from operation specialists and small-boat operators and maintenance specialists to electronic technicians and aviation mechanics.
The Coast Guard was created after five separate federal services were combined: the U.S. Lighthouse Service, the Revenue Cutter Service, the Steamboat Inspection Service, Bureau of Navigation and the U.S. Lifesaving Service. In 1915, a congressional act combined the Life-Saving Service and Revenue Cutter Service to form the Coast Guard. The Service was placed under the control of the Treasury Department until 1967, when an executive order transferred the Coast Guard to the newly formed Department of Transportation.
Currently, the Coast Guard operates under the Department of Homeland Security during peacetime and under the Navy during wartime, or by special presidential order. In addition to protecting our nation’s waterways, the 43,327 active-duty members of the Coast Guard perform search and rescue, law enforcement and environmental cleanup operations.
The US Coast Guard Academy is a four-year service academy located in New London, Conn. Around 225 cadets graduate each year. They receive a Bachelor of Science degree and a commission as an Ensign in the Coast Guard. These graduates must serve a minimum of five years on active duty. Some become Desk Watch Officers or Engineer Officers in Training. Others can be assigned directly to the Naval Air Station Pensacola for flight training.
The Coast Guard’s Research Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) program works on more than 80 projects that support Coast Guard requirements at any given time. This program is made up of the Office of RTD&E at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, DC and the Research and Development Center (RDC) at New London, Connecticut.
In 1915, a Congressional act merged the Revenue Cutter Service with the US Life-Saving Service, another government agency devoted to saving the shipwrecked, and thus made the Coast Guard. The Lighthouse Service joined the Coast Guard in 1939, and Congress moved the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation to the Coast Guard in 1946.
The Coast Guard has been involved in wars such as War of 1812, the Mexican-American War and the American Civil War. The last time the Coast Guard operated as a whole within the Navy was during World War II. Usually, military and combat units within the Coast Guard will operate under Navy or joint control while others remain under the Department of Homeland Security.

Colors White, Coast Guard blue, Coast Guard red
Motto Semper Paratus (Always Ready)
Song “Semper Paratus”
From North and South and East and West,
The Coast Guard’s in the fight.
Destroying subs and landing troops,
The Axis feels our might.
For we’re the first invaders,
On every fighting field.
Afloat, ashore, on men and Spars,
You’ll find the Coast Guard shield.

We’re always ready for the call,
We place our trust in Thee.
Through howling gale and shot and shell,
To win our victory.
“Semper Paratus” is our guide,
Our pledge, our motto, too.
We’re “Always Ready,” do or die!
Aye! Coast Guard, we fight for you.
From Aztec shore to Arctic zone,
To Europe and Far East.
The Flag is carried by our ships,
In times of war and peace.
And never have we struck it yet,
In spite of foe-men’s might,
Who cheered our crews and cheered again,
For showing how to fight.

We’re always ready for the call,
We place our trust in Thee.
Through howling gale and shot and shell,
To win our victory.
“Semper Paratus” is our guide,
Our pledge, our motto, too.
We’re “Always Ready,” do or die!
Aye! Coast Guard, we fight for you.

Surveyor and Narcissus,
The Eagle and Dispatch,
The Hudson and the Tampa
The names are hard to match;
From Barrow’s shores to Paraguay,
Great Lakes or ocean’s wave,
The Coast Guard fought through storms and winds
To punish or to save.

We’re always ready for the call,
We place our trust in Thee.
Through howling gale and shot and shell,
To win our victory.
“Semper Paratus” is our guide,
Our pledge, our motto, too.
We’re “Always Ready,” do or die!
Aye! Coast Guard, we fight for you.

Aye, we’ve been “Always Ready”
To do, to fight, or die
Write glory to the shield we wear
In letters to the sky.
To sink the foe or save the maimed
Our mission and our pride
We’ll carry on ‘til Kingdom Come
Ideals for which we’ve died.

We’re always ready for the call,
We place our trust in Thee.
Through howling gale and shot and shell,
To win our victory.
“Semper Paratus” is our guide,
Our pledge, our motto, too.
We’re “Always Ready,” do or die!
Aye! Coast Guard, we fight for you.

Marine Corps

The United States Marine Corps (USMC) serves as an expeditionary force-in-readiness. Their mission is primarily responsible for: the seizure or defense of advanced naval bases and other land operations to support naval campaigns; the development of tactics, technique and equipment used by amphibious landing forces in coordination with the Army and Air Force; and other duties directed by the President.
The USMC fulfills the role in national security as an amphibious and expeditionary force, capable of forcible entry from the air, land and sea. It is capable of asymmetric warfare with conventional, irregular and hybrid forces.
A committee of the Continental Congress formed two Marine battalions on Nov. 10, 1775 to combat the British– and so began the Continental Marines. In the peacetime that followed the end of the Revolutionary War, the Continental Marines were dissolved, as were other branches of the US Armed Forces, in 1783.
The US agreed with Britain to remain a neutral trader in Britain’s war with revolutionary France; France, though a former ally, was furious and seized American ships trading with Britain. An attempt at negotiation began with French diplomats attempting to extort America via bribery in the infamous XYZ Affair. This incensed the American public and sparked the Quasi-War with France, so-called because never was a formal war declared. Congress mobilized the Armed Forces, such as the Navy, and in 1798 established the Marine Corps. A treaty ended the Quasi-War in 1800.
The First Barbary War tested the new republic. Pirates from the Barbary Coast (Algiers, Tunis, Morocco, and Tripoli) captured American merchant ships and enslaved their crews. America paid off all the countries to stop the piracy and restitute prisoners save for one country, Tripoli– and the two nations went to war. In 1805, a force combining Marines and mercenaries successfully captured the Tripolitan city of Derna, forcing the ruler to agree to end hostilities and return captured Americans in exchange for ransom.
The Mexican-American War further cemented the Marine Corps reputation. The two wars brought the Marines glory now immortalized in the opening lines of the Marines’ Hymn: “From the Halls of Montezuma/To the shores of Tripoli.” The Barbary War also began another Marine Corps tradition, the Mameluke sword. Worn by Marine Officers today, the first Mameluke sword was a present from Prince Hamet Bey for the Marines’ victory at Derna; Bey was rightfully restored as ruler of Tripoli from the victory.
The Marines were not strongly involved in the Civil War. In its aftermath, they spent time leading American forces abroad and ashore in the Philippines, Cuba and Puerto Rico. John Philip Sousa joined the Marine Band at age 13 and headed the Marine Corps band in 1880. He would go on to compose the official march of the Marines, “Semper Fidelis,” and the National March of the US, “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” The Marines also quelled the Boxer Rebellion in China.
Marine Corps aviation began in 1912 with the nation’s earliest aviation camp. World War I struck soon after, and the Marines began Parris Island, their first base dedicated solely to training, which remains today. In 1918, Opha Mae Johnson became the first enlisted female Marine, though she did not serve in a war zone. That same year, Marines legend says they earned the nickname “Devil Dogs” from their German enemies after victory at Battle of Belleau Wood.
Next came World War II. Between 1942 and 1949, the first wave of black Marines enlisted as America slowly desegregated. Women made further strides with 1943’s formation of the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve– their roles were expanded into manufacturing and assembly. Photographer Joe Rosenthal froze the Marines and The Battle of Iwo Jima in time with his iconic photo featuring five Marines and a Navy corpsman mounting the national flag.
The Marines went on to fight in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War; more Marines were deployed in service during the Vietnam War than World War II. The Marines joined the other branches of the armed services post-9/11 in US operations in the Middle East, especially the Iraq War.

Motto Semper Fidelis
Mascot English Bulldog
Colors Scarlet and gold
Song “Marines’ Hymn”
From the Halls of Montezuma,
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean:
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.
Our flag’s unfurled to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun;
We have fought in every clime and place
Where we could take a gun;
In the snow of far-off Northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes;
You will find us always on the job
The United States Marines.
Here’s health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we’ve fought for life
And never lost our nerve;
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven’s scenes;
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.


The mission of the Navy is to maintain, train and equip combat-ready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas.
The Department of the Navy has three principal components: The Navy Department, consisting of executive offices mostly in Washington, D.C.; the operating forces, including the Marine Corps, the reserve components, and, in time of war, the US Coast Guard (in peace, a component of the Department of Homeland Security); and the shore establishment.
The Department of the Navy is under civilian leadership of the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV). The most senior naval officer is the Chief of Naval Operation, a four-star admiral who reports to SECNAV. The Chief of Naval Operations is also one of the Joint Chief of Staff, the second-highest body of the armed forces after the US National Security Council. They are responsible for organizing, recruiting, training and equipping the navy.
There are nine components in the operating forces of the U.S. Navy: the US Fleet Forces Command, US Pacific Fleet, US Naval Forces Central Command, US Naval Forces in Europe, Naval Network Warfare Command, Navy Reserve, US Naval Speachial Warfare Command, Operational Test and Evaluation Force and Military Sealift Command.
The Navy has six active numbered fleets. These fleets are further grouped under Fleet Forces Command, Pacific Fleet, Naval Forces Europe Africa and Naval Forces Command. The third, fifth, sixth, seventh and tenth fleets are each led by a three-star vice admiral, and the fourth fleet is led by a rear admiral.
Most of the bases are located in the US. However, there are a number of facilities maintained abroad. They are under a Status of Forces Agreement,an agreement between a host country and a foreign nation stationing military forces in that country. The largest overseas base is in Yokosuka, Japan.
The names of commissioned US Navy ships are prefixed with the letters “USS,” which stands for United States Ship. Each ship also has a letter-based symbol for classification to indicate the vessel’s type and number.
The Navy began as the Continental Navy. Soon after the end of the Revolutionary War, the last ship was sold, and the Continental Navy was disbanded. The Continental Navy was founded on Oct. 13, 1775 which was the day of the passage of the resolution of the Continental Congress at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This was also the day Congress authorized the purchase of two vessels to be armed against British merchant ships, the Andrew Doria and Cabot. Eleven years later, conflicts between American merchant shipping and pirates in the Mediterranean Sea led to the Naval Act of 1794, which created the US Navy. The Department of the Navy was established on April 30, 1798.
The first victory for the US Navy was on July 7, 1798 when the USS Delaware captured Le Croyable, a French privateer during the Revolutionary War. The first victory over an enemy warship was when the frigate Constellation captured the French frigate L’lnsurgente on Feb. 9, 1799.
Over the next 20 years, the Navy fought the French Navy in the Quasi-War, Barbary states in the First and Second Barbary wars and the British in the War of 1812. On Dec. 7, 1941, the Navy fought in World War II after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Soon after, the Navy fought in the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Battle of Midway and Battle of Leyte Gulf.
The US Navy’s Sea, Air and Land Teams (SEAL) are that branch’s principal special operations force and a part of the Naval Special Warfare Command. They originated sometime during the Second World War, when the US Navy found the need for the covert reconnaissance of landing beaches and coastal defenses.

Colors Blue and gold
Motto “Not for self, but for country”
March “Anchors Aweigh”
Stand Navy down the field, sails set to the sky.
We’ll never change our course, so Army you steer shy-y-y-y.
Roll up the score, Navy, Anchors Aweigh.
Sail Navy down the field and sink the Army, sink the Army Grey.
Get underway, Navy, Decks cleared for the fray,
We’ll hoist true Navy Blue So Army down your Grey-y-y-y.
Full speed ahead, Navy; Army heave to,
Furl Black and Grey and Gold and hoist the Navy, hoist the Navy Blue
Blue of the Seven Seas; Gold of God’s great sun
Let these our colors be till all of time be done-n-n-ne,
By Severn’s shore we learn Navy’s stern call:
Faith, courage, service true with honor over, honor over all.
The Lottman-Savino version published around 1950 in London by Francis, Day & Hunter is:
Verse 1
Anchors Aweigh, my boys
Anchors Aweigh
Farewell to college joys
We sail at break of day, ‘ay ‘ay ‘ay
Thou our last night ashore
Drink to the foam
Until we meet once more
Here’s wishing you a happy voyage home!
Heave a ho there! sailor
Ev’rybody drink up while you may
Heave a ho there! sailor
For you’re gonna sail at break of day
Drink a-way, Drink a-way,
For you sail at break of day, Hey!
Verse 2
Stand Navy, down the field, sails set to the sky.
We’ll never change our course, so Army you steer shy-y-y-y.
Roll up the score, Navy, Anchors Aweigh
Sail, Navy, down the field and sink the Army, sink the Army Grey.
The current lyrics include three verses and two bridges; the second verse is the one most commonly sung.
Stand Navy out to sea
Fight our battle cry:
We’ll never change our course
So vicious foes steer shy-y-y-y
Roll out the T. N. T.
Anchors Aweigh
Sail on to victory
And sink their bones to Davy Jones, hooray!
Yo ho there shipmate
Take the fighting to the far off seas
Yo ho there messmate
Hear the wailing of the wild banshees
All hands, fire brands
Let’s Blast them as we go. So
Verse 2
Anchors Aweigh my boys
Anchors Aweigh
Farewell to foreign shores (or “Farewell to college joys”)
We sail at break of day ‘ay ‘ay ‘ay
O’er our last night ashore
Drink to the foam
Until we meet once more
Here’s wishing you a happy voyage home!
Heave a ho there sailor
Everybody drink up while you may
Heave a ho there sailor
For your gonna sail at break of day
Drink away, Drink away,
For you sail at break of day, Hey!
Verse 3
Blue of the Mighty Deep
Gold of God’s Sun
Let these our colors be
Till all time be done
By Severn Shore we learn
Navy’s stern call
Faith, Courage, Service True
With Honor Over, Honor Over All.
As of the Summer of 2004, the verses taught at Navy Boot Camp are:
Verse 1
Stand, Navy, out to sea, Fight our battle cry;
We’ll never change our course, So vicious foe steer shy-y-y-y.
Roll out the TNT , Anchors Aweigh. Sail on to victory
And sink their bones to Davy Jones, hooray!
Verse 2 (most widely sung)
Anchors Aweigh, my boys, Anchors Aweigh.
Farewell to foreign shores, We sail at break of day, of day.
Through our last night on shore, Drink to the foam,
Until we meet once more. Here’s wishing you a happy voyage home!
The bridge is kept, and that the references to college are com

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