World War II (detail from Pearl Harbor photo)

You’re in the Army Now

Responding to Uncle Sam’s call, American men, most in their early twenties, hung up their civvies, put on a uniform, and went to war. Nearly sixteen million Americans served in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and Army Air Forces.

The United States summoned millions of American men—rich and poor, illiterate and educated, from farms and cities—for “training and service” in U.S. land, naval, and air forces. Many joined; most were drafted. They found themselves at one of hundreds of mobilization camps and training centers across the country. They received a haircut, immunizations, a stack of uniforms and gear, a bunk, a footlocker—and a rude awakening. Most had just weeks to learn soldiering, the technicalities of weapon systems, or the complexities of support services. Then they faced the realities of war.

Civilians being sworn in to the Army
Check in station
Recruits at a U.S. Navy training station in San Diego, California
Bainbridge Naval Training Station in Bainbridge, Maryland
Marksmanship training
African American volunteers in training at Montford Point, North Carolina
Bayonet training
Basic training
Gas mask drill
Aviation cadets

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