Yesterday, we offered our Presidents Day challenge: 10 questions to test your knowledge of U.S. presidents who served in some form of the military, from militias to decorated careers.
Here are those questions again, with the answers:
- Who was the only president born in the Golden State?
Answer: Richard M. Nixon, the 37th president, was born January 9, 1913 in Yorba Linda. He served in the Navy 1942-1946, then retired from the Naval Reserve as a commander.
- Which president was the only one ever to receive the Medal of Honor?
Answer: Theodore Roosevelt, the nation’s 26th president. He demonstrated valor in leading the charge up Cuba’s San Juan Hill on July 1, 1898, during the Spanish-American War. He received the award posthumously on January 16, 2001, presented to his family by President Clinton.
- Which president was the only one ever to receive a Purple Heart?
Answer: John F. Kennedy, the 35th president, received a Purple Heart for his wounds when his PT-109 (Patrol Torpedo) was rammed and sunk by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri near the Solomon Islands. Despite his own injuries, Lieutenant Kennedy led 11 crewmen—towing one badly burned sailor by the strap of the sailor’s life jacket in his teeth—on a five-hour-long swim to a small island and safety. He also received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for “courage, endurance and leadership …”
- Which two presidents held supreme Army commands before reaching the White House?
Answer: Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Grant led the Union Army to victory in the Civil War, accepting the surrender of Confederates at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. He became the 18th president on March 4, 1869, and served two terms. Eisenhower, the 34th president, led the Allies to victory in Europe. He became president on January 20, 1953, and served two terms.
- Which two presidents served stateside during wartime while in the military?
Answer: Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Reagan, the 40th president, served in the U.S. Army Reserves and U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. Poor eyesight prevented him from serving overseas. Bush served in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.
- Which president served in the military but not during wartime?
Answer: James K. Polk, the 11th president, served as a captain in the Tennessee militia, but fought in no wars. He did start one as president—the Mexican War in 1846, which began a year after he formed the U.S. Naval School in Annapolis, Maryland (now known as the U.S. Naval Academy).
- Which president served in the Army but never achieved a rank higher than private?
Answer: James Buchanan, the 15th president, served in the Pennsylvania State Militia during the War of 1812. He and nine others volunteered to round up extra horses for the mounted militia defending Baltimore. His unit was dismissed after the British were driven out of the city.
- Which five consecutive presidents had served as officers in the U.S. Navy or Naval Reserve during World War II?
Answer: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, and Jimmy Carter. Kennedy was a lieutenant. Johnson, who became the 36th president after Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, earned a Silver Star as a commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve. Nixon, who succeeded Johnson, also was a commander in the Naval Reserve and earned the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two service stars, and the World War II Victory Medal. Gerald Ford became the 38th president after Nixon was a lieutenant commander in the Naval Reserve. Carter, the 39th president, was a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and served in World War II and the Korean War.
- Which two presidents served during World War I?
Answer: Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower. The 33rd president, you might say Truman was a “veteran” before he became a veteran. When the U.S. entered the Great War in 1917, he reenlisted in the Missouri National Guard at age 33 and fought on the front lines in France as a captain in the 129th Artillery Battery. His unit fired over 10,000 rounds without losing a single man, and their last volley came 15 minutes before the fighting ended at 11 p.m. on November 11, 1918. Eisenhower, meanwhile, commanded Camp Colt, the Army’s tank corps training center and didn’t go to France during that war. After becoming the Supreme Allied Commander in World War II, he and his wife bought a farm just over Seminary Ridge from the Gettysburg battlefield. It is now part of the National Parks Service.
- Which three presidents attended military academies?
Answer: Ulysses S. Grant, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Jimmy Carter. The two most prolific generals in U.S. history both attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Grant graduated in 1843. Eisenhower was among the Class of 1915 that also produced General Omar Bradley and is considered to be the Academy’s greatest graduating class ever. Carter is the only president to have attended the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, where he graduated in 1946.
So, how did you do? Tell us in the comments section below.