Military Trivia Quiz

By: Ian Fortey
Estimated Completion Time
3 min
Military Trivia Quiz
Image: Vincent Shane Hansen / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Pinpointing the origins of the military in human history is not an easy task. Archeological evidence shows us that there have been thousands of battles stretching back through all of human history. Some of these battles we have clear historical records about, others are more anecdotal and sketchy. A good number have even been lost to history completely. What we do know is that humans tend to work together in fighting forces against other humans and they've done so for as long as anything close to society has existed. The only thing that has changed is how we do it; from sticks and rocks way back when to the most high-tech modern drones and advanced weapon systems that we use today. 

War, soldiers, battles, technology, there's plenty to know about the history of the military. It's like an endless rush of facts that cover the smallest details of military conduct and extend to the entire interplay of events that lead up to major world conflicts. Is there any chance you could possibly know all of it? Well, no, not really. But you can know some of it, and maybe you know enough to get through this quiz! Soldier forth and see how well you can do!

Military Trivia 30 Which movie managed to increase interest in becoming a naval aviator by 500%?
"Black Hawk Down"
"Iron Eagle"
"Top Gun"
1986's epic military love letter "Top Gun" was a huge hit with audiences and still stands the test of time as an action movie. The Navy itself acknowledged that, after the film's release, the number of people joining up to become naval aviators increased 500%
"Tropic Thunder"

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Military Trivia 18 Which conflict saw the most American casualties in history?
The Civil War
The Civil War was far and away the bloodiest conflict in the history of American battles, which does make sense since it was Americans fighting Americans. At least 618,000 soldiers fell in battle. The next most costly was WWII with 405,000.
WWII
Vietnam
WWI

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Military Trivia 29 In 1942, the military blacked out Los Angeles and fired 1,400 artillery rounds at what?
Enemy aircraft
Friendly aircraft
Weather balloons
In February of 1942, 1,400 rounds of anti-aircraft artillery and .50 caliber rounds were fired off by the thousands at what was at first believed to be enemy aircraft but later turned out to probably be a wayward weather balloon. We say probably because no one really knows for sure and it could have literally been nothing based on the evidence.
Birds

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Military Trivia 5 In what year did the Air Force separate from the Army?
1940
1942
1944
1947
Prior to 1947, there was no individualized Air Force in the United States military as it's known today. There were planes, of course, but they were part of what was then known as the Army Air Corps and pilots were therefore in the Army. In 1947 the Air Force was officially introduced.

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Military Trivia 25 How many times has the United States formally declared war?
5
Though US military forces have been involved in literally hundreds of conflicts, only five formal declarations of war have been issued. That includes both World Wars, the Spanish-American War, the Mexican-American War and the War of 1812. Technically you could stretch that number to 11 as Congress declared war on different individual nations during WWI and WWII.
7
12
19

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Military Trivia 32 Only one US Navy ship still on the commissioned roster is being held captive by another nation. Do you know what it is?
USS Grant
USS Pueblo
In 1968, North Korea took the USS Pueblo (shown here) captive and to this day still has it in their possession. It's moored in a river in North Korea and they use it as a tourist attraction, not that there's a lot of tourism in North Korea.
USS Sante Fe
USS Righteous

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Military Trivia 4 Very few people ever become honorary Marines, but some do. Which one of these earned that honor?
Chuck Norris
Chuck Norris is one of a number of celebrities who have become honorary Marines over the years. He joined the ranks of celebs like Bob Hope and even Bugs Bunny who holds the rank of Master Sergeant.
Clint Eastwood
Bruce Willis
Arnold Schwarzenegger

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Military Trivia 6 How many five-star generals have there been in the history of the US Army?
2
5
The rank of five-star general didn't show up in the US military until 1944. Five men earned the rank including Dwight Eisenhower, George Marshall (shown here), Douglas MacArthur, Henry Arnold and Omar Bradley. The rank was retired in 1981 after Bradley passed away.
8
13

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Military Trivia 12 Under what circumstances can a Marine carry an umbrella in uniform?
Only officers can carry umbrellas.
Only in a full dress uniform
Only female Marines can carry an umbrella.
All Marines can carry umbrellas
Prior to November 2019, only female Marines were allowed to carry umbrellas. Thanks to the rule change, now both male and female Marines can avoid dealing with soaking wet dress uniforms.

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Military Trivia 34 In what year was the computer that coordinates the operation of the United States military arsenal built?
1976
The United States nuclear arsenal is controlled by an IBM Series/1 computer designed in 1976. It still uses 8-inch floppy disks for memory storage and has been mostly obsolete for nearly 40 years. That said, it's also pretty much impervious to hacking as a result. This system was supposed to be replaced in 2017. Was it? Good question!
1985
1999
2018

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Military Trivia 1 How many US presidents served in the military before becoming president?
29
A total of 29 presidents have a history in the military, either in state militias or the U.S. armed forces. Eisenhower earned the rank of 5-star general and Washington was posthumously granted what would be the equivalent of 6 stars while Teddy Roosevelt earned the Medal of Honor.
31
33
34

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Military Trivia 2 In what year did the U.S military come into existence?
1772
1775
A unified Continental Army came into existence by an act of the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1775. That means that the Army actually came into being before the United States was a real thing.
1776
1782

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Military Trivia 9 Who went to battle in the first war in recorded history?
Sumer and Elam
The first battle in recorded history between two armies was between Sumer and Elam in the year 2700 BCE. The Sumerians defeated the forces of Elam. At around the same time, King Gilgamesh went to war as well.
Mesopotamia and Assyria
Egypt and Akkad
Greece and Carthage

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Military Trivia 22 Which popular vehicle started life as a general-purpose military vehicle?
SUVs
Scooters
Jeeps
Jeeps originated as military vehicles during World War II and were called "General Purpose" vehicles. That got abbreviated to GP and that in turn evolved into Jeep as you know it today.
ATVs

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Military Trivia 23 How old was Major General John Lincoln Clem when he first tried to enlist?
75
65
14
9
John Clem tried to enlist in the 3rd Ohio Infantry when he was about 9 years old in 1861. They turned him down so he went to the 22nd Michigan who initially also turned him away but then let him become the drummer boy. By age 12 he was a sergeant and a hero.

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Military Trivia 26 They call it "The Old Guard" because it really is old. In What year did it form?
1776
1784
The 3rd US Infantry Regiment, also known as the Old Guard, dates back to 1784. You may recognize this unit today for two of its important ceremonial duties as either escort to the president or guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
1791
1800

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Military Trivia 19 How much money does the entire world combined spend on military needs?
$700 billion
$950 billion
$1.8 trillion
Roughly speaking, based on 2018 estimates, the world's military budget was a whopping $1.8 trillion. About 37% of that was just the US which spends more than any other country in the world. The US military budget is about $693 billion as of 2019.
$2.1 trillion

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Military Trivia 31 The military can hand down a death sentence for crimes though it almost never does so. Which of these crimes could get you a death sentence?
Espionage
Sleeping at your post
Cowardice
All of the above
Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, all of those crimes could potentially net you a death sentence, but it'd have to be some remarkable cowardice or falling asleep in a way that literally leads to war, probably. The military has not executed anyone since 1961.

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Military Trivia 8 How many people are employed by the Department of Defense on active duty?
750,000
1.2 million
1.4 million
The Department of Defense employs about 1.4 million on active duty plus 718,000 civilians, making it the largest employer in the entire United States of America by a landslide. Ford, GM, Exxon, Google, and Amazon combined employ fewer people.
2.1 million

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Military Trivia 33 For how long did Hannibal wage war against Rome?
16 months
3 years
9 years
17 years
The Second Punic War or, as the Romans may have called it, the War Against Hannibal, lasted for a preposterous 17 years. It was one of the most violent and prolonged campaigns in military history and it included the use of war elephants. Hannibal eventually lost.

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Military Trivia 14 How many overseas military installations does the US have?
488
525
611
737
The US has about 737 military installations overseas, but that number does change as new installations are needed and others are either destroyed or phased out depending on the needs of the moment. Shown here is Naval Support Activity Bahrain, a United States Navy base in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

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Military Trivia 15 How old was the oldest active member of the US Coast Guard?
71
81
97
105
As unbelievable as it sounds, the oldest active duty member of the US Coast Guard in history was Anthony Christy, who served until he was a staggering 105 years old. He served as a lighthouse keeper and died on duty in 1862.

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Military Trivia 13 How many dogs are in the Army?
400
500
There are roughly 500 dogs serving in the Army right now. They're officially called Military Working Dogs and have a variety of jobs from detecting drugs and explosives to patrol duties. They're constantly being trained and have to go regular evaluations. Across all branches, there are over 2,500 dogs.
700
1200

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Military Trivia 3 Who chose the US Army's dress colors?
Ben Franklin
James Madison
George Washington
In the year 1779, George Washington chose the Army's service dress colors. That doesn't mean they stayed that way for long, and they've actually gone through a number of colors over the years, but in 2010 they returned to Washington's picks.
Alexander Hamilton

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Military Trivia 10 Which nation had the largest military force in history?
China
The United States
Believe it or not, America holds the title of the largest military in history. While China currently has a force of a couple of million and the Soviet Union nearly reached 11 million by the end of WWII, the US military had 12 million soldiers in 1945. That number has not been seen since. Troops are shown here approaching Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
Mongolia
Russia

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The Civil War
The Revolutionary War
The first submarine ever used by the military was called The Turtle and it made waves all the way back in the Revolutionary War. Its mission was to sink a British ship that was moored off the coast of New York. It failed.
War of 1812
World War I

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Military Trivia 28 How much land does the US Army own?
15,000 square miles
24,000 square miles
The US Army controls about 24,000 square miles which, all together, would make it larger than nine states including Maryland and New Jersey. The military as a whole, around the world, has several hundred thousand square miles of property.
30,000 square miles
43,000 square miles

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Military Trivia 20 What was the name of the giant Air Force robot designed in the late 1950s to handle nuclear materials?
The Beetle
Built by GE for the Air Force Special Weapons Center, the massive 7-ton Beetle was like a tank that had arms and could load 2,000 pounds worth of nuclear weapons and irradiated parts into an atomic-powered plane. The Beetle never saw active duty
The Knight
The Machine
The Rhino

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Military Trivia 21 Do you know how many nuclear warheads officially exist in the world?
8,750
13,890
As of 2019, there are 13,890 nuclear warheads in the world and 3,750 active ones. While this is still enough to destroy everything, it's a great reduction from the 70,000 that were active in 1986.
17,120
22,340

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Military Trivia 16 During which war was a jet first shot down by another?
WWII
Vietnam
The Korean War
During the Korean War, the very first dogfight between jet fighters saw a Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star take out a MiG-15. Though fighters had met in numerous conflicts in WWII, those were not specifically jet fighters.
The Gulf War

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Military Trivia 24 Everyone knows G.I. Joe but what does G. I. actually mean?
Government Issue
General Infantry
General Interest
Galvanized Iron
This one is tricky because people started using "G.I." to refer to government or general issue products that were made for soldiers but actually it originally meant galvanized iron. In military supply records, it was the abbreviation so a lot of equipment soldiers used would be called G.I. whatever. The name evolved from there.

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Military Trivia 17 About how many people enlist in the US Armed Forces every year?
35,000
63,000
112,000
180,000
Around 180,000 people per year enlist for active duty in the Armed Forces. Statistically speaking, about 50% of all people who are in the right age range to enlist wouldn't qualify as a result of not meeting medical or physical standards.

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Military Trivia 11 What symbol did the 45th Infantry once wear on their sleeves?
Ankh
Star of David
Swastika
Prior to WWII, the 45th Infantry wore swastikas on their sleeves as a token of respect to Native Americans. The symbol had been used for good luck until the Nazis effectively ruined it for all time. It was replaced by the Thunderbird shown here.
Crucifix

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Military Trivia 27 For years the military was doing something called the "Stargate Project." What was it about?
Teleportation
Searching for alien life
Interstellar flight
Psychic powers
The Stargate Project was an initiative to investigate psychic powers and their potential military applications. It was actually a handful of projects that spanned from the late '70s to the early '90s that were all consolidated into one.

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Military Trivia 35 Which Hollywood bombshell was assembling drones in 1944?
Jayne Mansfield
Marilyn Monroe
Before she was calling herself Marilyn Monroe, Norma Jean Dougherty worked at a military factory in Van Nuys, California. Photos of her were snapped there and they're pretty famous "before they were stars" stuff, but it's also worth noting America was making drones in 1944.
Jean Harlow
Mae West

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