Military question

TaraC73TaraC73 Manchester NH
I was just listening to the Saving Private Ryan podcast (how did I not know this was done until 7 months later!?) and had a question that I believe someone in here can answer for me, as I know we have a few history buffs in here.

Back during WWII, it seems a lot of our military was comprised of guys who were drafted OR who left careers and enlisted because they wanted to help their country... how does the military determine who to make higher ranking officers, and who is just a Private, when it comes to non-career military? How does Tom Hanks, a career school teacher, become a captain (I believe that’s his rank) but not someone like the sniper guy who, I ASSume, has a military or maybe police background.

Thanks!

Comments

  • Most officers go to what's called OCS. Officer candidate school.

    Others are promoted due to their capability and ability.

    OCS requires a college degree and really tough physical requirements.

    Most people who join the military join as privates and either stay there or work their way up the ranks. It's much more difficult to be promoted starting from private then it is if you go to OCS.
  • emnofseattleemnofseattle Mason County, Washington USA
    edited October 2
    TaraC73 said:

    I was just listening to the Saving Private Ryan podcast (how did I not know this was done until 7 months later!?) and had a question that I believe someone in here can answer for me, as I know we have a few history buffs in here.

    Back during WWII, it seems a lot of our military was comprised of guys who were drafted OR who left careers and enlisted because they wanted to help their country... how does the military determine who to make higher ranking officers, and who is just a Private, when it comes to non-career military? How does Tom Hanks, a career school teacher, become a captain (I believe that’s his rank) but not someone like the sniper guy who, I ASSume, has a military or maybe police background.

    Thanks!

    During WWII there were many promotions made simply on the basis the guy above you got killed or wounded or rotated out of the theater. My great grandfather got his promotion to staff sergeant because his units staff sergeant was killed.

    In the pre World War Two US military we had a very small standing army organized around small units, usually coast artillery or national guard divisions, the officers in those units would be the ones training the massive influx of new recruits, in addition veterans of World War One and the banana campaigns in the 1920s were also a source of training cadre for newer recruits

    I think since Miller is a captain his path is not unrealistic, if he was college educated as a school master he was probably commissioned as a second lieutenant, he would pass infantry officer training, since he referenced being in Africa he probably first deployed in 1942 during Operation Torch as a second lieutenant, he may have been promoted as a result of superiors becoming casualties or simply time in service

    The sniper probably wasn't college educated, it wasn't uncommon for soldiers to not even have graduated high school, he would've likely enlisted (since special or elite units like paratroopers didn't take draftees unless the draftee specifically requested to join such a unit, elite units were volunteer only) became a private and passed his training, any promotions he received would be either attrition, time in rank, or being recognized, often the best trainees in infantry units would get promoted to corporal or sergeant to be squad leaders when the unit deployed
    HatorianFlukesTaraC73
  • ThomasThomas North Carolina
    Battlefield commissions used to exist too.  Hank's character was part of 2nd Ranger Battalion in the show, which is comprised of more elite personnel, so he could have received a battlefield commission at some point.  You can see Tom Sizemore's character with a bag full of dirt from 4-5 different countries, so you know they've been at war for awhile.

    There were a lot of instances of PFC's and below acting as 1SG's due to injuries, but they weren't paid or officially a 1SG.  Hank's character more than likely just came in as a 2 LT and had been in theater long enough to make CPT.
    TaraC73
  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)
    This isn't relevant to the movie, but I also had a friend who was in Air Force ROTC in college. They paid for his college, they chose his major as I understand it (or maybe he applied to certain majors and they accepted him for one of them), and he had to commit to being in the Air Force for a certain period of time after college was over. When he graduated from college he also became a Second Lieutenant right out of college. They were the same weekend and I went to both, but the ceremony to become a Second Lieutenant was almost a bigger deal than the college graduation. (I forget what they call that ceremony- it was in 1995). He's stayed in this whole time, has also taken advantage of other educational opportunities throughout his career with the Air Force and he is now a Colonel. 
    TaraC73
  • TaraC73TaraC73 Manchester NH
    Thanks for all of the replies and information!! I kind of figured it had something to do with college and/or jobs held in civilian life.

    @akritenbrink my son sometimes talks about going into the military and I cringe, but their “benefits” like that are amazing not to mention, in and of itself it’s a great career path! Scary for momma, but a good honorable career :0)
  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)
    TaraC73 said:

    Thanks for all of the replies and information!! I kind of figured it had something to do with college and/or jobs held in civilian life.

    @akritenbrink my son sometimes talks about going into the military and I cringe, but their “benefits” like that are amazing not to mention, in and of itself it’s a great career path! Scary for momma, but a good honorable career :0)

    My friend from high school is an engineer. I'm not very close to him now, so I'm not sure, but i don't think he's ever seen a battlefield.
  • ThomasThomas North Carolina
    TaraC73 said:

    Thanks for all of the replies and information!! I kind of figured it had something to do with college and/or jobs held in civilian life.

    @akritenbrink my son sometimes talks about going into the military and I cringe, but their “benefits” like that are amazing not to mention, in and of itself it’s a great career path! Scary for momma, but a good honorable career :0)

    Most jobs in the military don't involve combat.  A lot are basically 9-5's stateside as well.  Even the combat jobs have a false view of being like Vietnam.  I always tell someone if they are interested in combat, try to go into special operations in the Army.  If they don't want to go into combat, join the Air Force or Navy in in a support role.  Both those branches prepare you for civilian life far better than Army or Marines.
    akritenbrinkTaraC73
  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)
    Yeah. I had a couple of high school friends who did long careers in the military doing professional or management jobs. One did not have a degree, but did some other path where he rose through the enlisted ranks, and he recently retired and is now doing a civilian management job. The other one is mentioned above. And of course everyone knows lots of people who did shorter stints and benefited through training and the GI bill. 

    I was a little hippie in high school and was upset that my friends were going into the military, but looking backwards, it was a great opportunity for them. I'm not super close with either of them any more so I couldn't tell you what made it so for them, but I would assume it was also an access to education and training within the service, as well as their own skills and talents that let them rise in the ranks (both are very talented and smart people). It's still difficult to think about the fact that a great opportunity for some is not for others, the ones that end up on the battlefield, killed, injured, PTSD etc. But I think if you can figure out the way to take the first path, you have a good path of opportunity in front of you.
    Thomas
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