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

  • 1950: Attack on Korea authorized

    Army strength: 593,167 people (0.39% of U.S. population)

    Gen. Douglas MacArthur in 1950 authorized the U.S. 7th Infantry Division to launch an amphibious attack on Korea. It was the beginning of a war between Communist-supported North Korea and the United States and United Nations-backed South Korea.

  • 1951: China supports North Korea

    Army strength: 1.53 million people (0.99% of U.S. population)

    China entered the war on the North Korean side and planned a total annihilation of the U.S. Army in South Korea. The Ridgeway offensive was the U.S. Army's answer; they wanted to hold ground and keep Seoul.


  • 1952: Armistice talks stall

    Army strength: 1.60 million people (1.01% of U.S. population)

    In the U.S. Army's third year of the Korea war, armistice talks stalled as the fighting continued. The newly elected President Dwight D. Eisenhower traveled to Korea to discuss a ceasefire. The Korean Demilitarized Zone was established, and in March 1953, Joseph Stalin's death helped push a prompt conclusion to the negotiations.

  • 1953: Korean War ends

    Army strength: 1.53 million people (0.96% of U.S. population)

    The Korean war ended in July 1953 with an armistice serving as a ceasefire. The U.S. Army worked to create an official line of demarcation between North and South Korea. The ceasefire was between military forces, not governments—and with no peace treaty signed, the Korean War never officially stopped.

  • 1954: McCarthy hearings begin

    Army strength: 1.4 million people (0.86% of U.S. population)

    Joseph McCarthy took on the U.S. Army in 1954, using his brand of smear tactics. He said the Army was soft on communists. The case resulted in McCarthy being barred from speaking in the U.S. Senate.

  • 1955: Operation Gyroscope

    Army strength: 1.11 million people (0.67% of U.S. population)

    Operation Gyroscope was a project that sought a more cost-effective option for sending much-needed troops to Europe for rebuilding efforts. Instead of flying soldiers trained out West into New York, before loading them onto ships with equipment bound for Europe, the soldiers boarded ships in California and shipped out to California via the Panama Canal.

  • 1956: M113 ships to Vietnam

    Army strength: 1.03 million people (0.61% of U.S. population)

    The M113 personnel carrier was shipped to Vietnam to test its armor and capabilities. The vehicle—created by the Food Machinery Corp—was used throughout the Vietnam War.

  • 1957: Operation Plumbbob

    Army strength: 997,994 people (0.58% of U.S. population)

    The government launched a series of nuclear bombs tests called Operation Plumbbob in 1957. To see how the U.S. Army troops responded to nuclear bombs, they conducted an airlift assault.

  • 1958: Elvis Presley joins up

    Army strength: 898,925 people (0.51% of U.S. population)

    Most young men 18 and older had to sign up for the draft. Elvis Presley had his number come in and was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1958. He reportedly had the option to fulfill his service a recruiting model and an entertainer for the troops, but Presley chose to become a common soldier instead.

  • 1959: First soldiers killed in Vietnam

    Army strength: 861,964 people (0.48% of U.S. population)

    Maj. Dale Buis and Master Sgt. Chester Ovnand, part of a military assistance advisory group in Bien Hoa, north of what was formerly called Saigon, were the first Americans killed in the Vietnam War. Viet Cong guerrillas attacked the group, which had been coming to South Vietnam since November 1955 to provide help and advice to Vietnam's ministry of defense.

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