Lieutenant, Sergeant or General: The Military Rank Quiz


By: Staff

5 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

While the other kids collected dolls and baseball cards, did you grow up pouring through old black and white photographs and colorful insignia from your family’s military history? Were you a West Point family or an Annapolis family? Maybe you’re an antique picker or a war memorabilia collector, and you’ve got classic pins and bars safely secured in a glass frame.

Spanning hundreds of years of time-honored tradition — from the ancient Roman army to the U.S. Continental Army to today’s Armed Services — our Military Rank Quiz will put your mettle to the test.

Think you know the difference between a mustang and a plebe? Or a commissioned and a noncommissioned officer? If you think you’re up for the challenge, we want to see what you’re made of. But sailor beware. You better know how to address a lieutenant general, or know the rank of past U.S. presidents and famous movie stars. Or let’s see if you know how ranks equate across the five branches of today’s military.

Basic training is done recruit. You’re in the Army now (and the Navy, and the Air Force, and the Coast Guard, and the Marines). Earn your stripes with our Military Rank Quiz. That’s an order.

Which Army rank is only used in time of war?

The rank of general of the Army is equal to or higher than those who command armies from other nations and hasn't been used since World War II.


How do you address a lieutenant general?

All generals are addressed as "general," whether brigadier, lieutenant, major or simply general.


True or false: Commissioned officers outrank all noncommissioned officers.

Commissioned officers outrank NCOs, but NCOs do command lower-ranking enlisted personnel.


Who is a plebe?

Freshmen (the lowest class) are called plebes at the Naval Academy and at West Point.


Who makes up the E-4 Mafia?

Active and reserve duty Army specialist is the most prevalent rank among enlisted soldiers, known jokingly as the "E-4 Mafia." (E-4 is their pay grade.)


What is the difference between a commissioned and noncommissioned officer?

Commissioned officers have extra education (a minimum of a bachelor's degree and officer training), whereas NCOs do not.


True or false: Actor Jimmy Stewart achieved rank of brigadier general in the Air Force Reserve.

Hollywood leading man and Oscar winner James "Jimmy" Stewart was a brigadier general in the Air Force Reserve.


Rank insignia for the Coast Guard is basically the same as which military branch?

Coast Guard rank insignia are the same as those for the Navy.


What is a mustang?

A mustang is an officer who was promoted from within the enlisted ranks.


Who is the only airman ever to hold rank of five-star general, as the general of the Air Force?

Arnold also became general of the Army in 1944.


True or false: The rank of private in the Marines does not wear a uniform insignia.

Neither privates in the Marine Corps or in the Army, seamen recruits in the Navy nor airmen recruits in the Air Force have a rank insignia.


Which admiral was honored with the special six-star rank of admiral of the Navy, the only person ever to receive this title?

Dewey served in the Civil War and the Spanish-American War.


If you're a lance corporal in the Marine Corps, what is the equivalent rank in the Army?

A lance corporal is the equivalent to a private first class in the Army. In the Marines, private first class comes before lance corporal.


What were captains called in the Roman army ranks?

Captains in the Roman army were called centurions, each commanding up to 100 men.


What do infantrymen call any service member who's not an infantryman?

Infantrymen may use the acronym POG (person other than grunt) to describe a noninfantryman.


What do Marines often pin in their cover or under a pocket?

For motivation, some Marines pin their next promotable rank on their uniform in a hidden place.


Which rank from the Continental Army is now obsolete?

The Continental Army had privates, sergeants, captains and generals, but coronet, ensign and subaltern are now obsolete titles.


What does it mean to "get your stripes"?

Getting your stripes means you've been promoted to an NCO rank.


Which rank is known as "chief"?

All Army warrant officers or petty officers in the Navy or Coast Guard may be addressed as "chief."


What is the order of generals, junior to senior?

Brigadier general, major general, lieutenant general, general is the order, from most junior to most senior rank.


Who is the first woman to achieve the rank of admiral in the Navy?

Michelle J. Howard, commissioned in 1982 as an officer in the Navy, became the first woman to become a four-star admiral in July 2014.


Senior NCOs are sometimes called what?

Because of the number of stripes on their rank insignia, senior NCOs are also known as "zebras".


Who was the first retired Marine to receive an honorary promotion?

R. Lee Ermey, a former Marine Corps drill instructor and Vietnam veteran, retired as a staff sergeant but was promoted to "gunny" (gunnery sergeant) after his role in "Full Metal Jacket."


Who are the brass?

Military "brass" are its high-ranking officers.


Which rank is higher in the Marine Corps, sergeant major or master gunnery sergeant?

While they're the same pay grade (E-9), sergeant major is the higher rank.


Who is the only U.S. president to serve as an enlisted man without going on to the officer corps?

James Buchanan served in a unit of dragoons during the War of 1812.


What are the three groups Army ranks are broken down into?

Army ranks fall into three groups: junior enlisted, NCOs and senior NCOs.


Which is NOT a difference of insignia between a seaman recruit in the Navy and one in the Coast Guard?

In the Coast Guard, a seaman recruit has an insignia with one stripe, and Coast Guard insignia colors are different than Navy colors.


Who was given the title of honorary Marine and discharged as a master sergeant?

Bugs Bunny, who decided to become a Marine in the 1943 cartoon "Super-Rabbit," began as a private and retired as a master sergeant at the end of World War II.


What's a full bird?

A full bird is a colonel in the Army, Air Force, or Marine Corps. The insignia for colonel is an eagle.


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