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U.S. Army history from the year you were born

  • 1940: Selective Training and Service Act

    Army strength: 269,023 people (0.20% of U.S. population)

    The U.S. Army stained to gain greatly by the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, which called for every man between 21 and 45 years old to register for the draft. Even though it was peacetime, the government believed that there would be a call for war soon. That same year, height standards for the Army dropped down to 5 feet (from 5 feet and 3 inches in 1923).

  • 1941: “It's only a maneuver”

    Army strength: 1.46 million people (1.10% of U.S. population)

    To prep American forces for World War II, the U.S. Army in 1941 began staging the first-ever army-against-army U.S. war maneuvers in Louisiana and the Carolinas. Faux battles included the Second Battle of Camden, the Battle of the Pee Dee, and the Battle of Shreveport.

  • 1942: Dogs Defense group founded

    Army strength: 3.08 million people (2.28% of U.S. population)

    The Dogs Defense group was formed in 1942 in order to train dogs for sentry duty. The Army saw that the working dogs were skilled, and signed into existence the first K9 corp.

  • 1943: U.S. Army Fights the Japanese in Alaska

    Army strength: 6.99 million people (5.12% of U.S. population)

    In Attu, Alaska, two amphibious landings by the U.S. Army was put in place to attack the Japanese who had occupied the island without any resistance. The battle lasted for two weeks and the majority of fighting was hand-to-hand combat. It is the only battle on a U.S. territory that was fought under arctic conditions.

  • 1944: Operation Neptune

    Army strength: 7.99 million people (5.78% of U.S. population)

    On June 6, 1944, D-Day—or Operation Neptune—was carried out. This battle allowed the allies to begin the liberation of France and push the Germans back.

  • 1945: Dachau (mostly) liberated

    Army strength: 8.27 million people (5.91% of U.S. population)

    The 42nd and 45th division liberated more than 32,000 prisoners in Dachau concentration camp. However, many Nazis escaped and began a death march with 7,000 prisoners, murdering those unable to continue to march.

  • 1946: The “mutiny” of American troops after WWII

    Army strength: 1.44 million people (1.02% of U.S. population)

    With Germany's surrender in May 1945 and Japan's surrender that September, World War II was officially over. U.S. troops were anxious to get home—but getting the troops back before Christmas was no small task. Thousands of restless soldiers from the time of Japan's surrender through January 1946 protested delays by marching and holding rallies at bases around the world, many times with signs that mocked commanders.

  • 1947: The World War II draft expires

    Army strength: 685,458 people (0.48% of U.S. population)

    Throughout World War II, the War Manpower Commission had to recruit upwards of 200,000 men per month in order to secure 9 million men in the U.S. Armed Forces before the close of 1943. The draft ran from 1940 until 1946, at which point the draft was suspended. The authorization for that draft expired in 1947 with no push by Congress for an extension.

  • 1948: Truman desegregates the Military

    Army strength: 554,030 people (0.38% of U.S. population)

    President Harry Truman desegregated the U.S. Military despite extensive opposition to the legislation and threats of a filibuster from southern Senators. The military by 1946 had become the largest employer of minorities, and in 1946 Truman's appointed panel, President's Commission on Civil Rights, recommended further civil rights protections that included anti-poll tax laws and anti-lynching laws. Truman in 1948 used his executive powers to enact all of the committee's recommendations, appoint the first African American federal judge, and desegregate the Armed Forces, among many other milestones.

  • 1949 Army withdraws from Korea

    Army strength: 660,473 people (0.44% of U.S. population)

    The U.S. Army withdrew troops from Korea, blaming limited military power. The government assured the public that if the Army is needed, more troops will go back.

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