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Service number (United States Armed Forces)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For other countries version of a service number, see "Service number"

Service numbers were used by the United States Armed Forces as the primary means of service member identification from 1918 until 1974. Service numbers are public information available under the Freedom of Information Act, unlike social security numbers which are protected by the Privacy Act of 1974.[1]

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The US Navy: the world's most powerful fighting force on the surface, beneath the surface, and in the skies above the sea. The US Marines: tip of the spear of American military power. How do the two services compare to each other though? That’s what we’ll find out, in this episode of The Infographics Show- the US Navy vs the US Marines. The US Navy was officially established on October 13, 1775, when the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution creating the Continental Navy. Mostly a token force that met with little actual success during the American Revolutionary War, the Continental Navy was disbanded shortly after the war with its last ship auctioned off in 1785. Almost ten years later, with threats to the new republic's merchant shipping from north African Barbary pirates, first American president George Washington created the Naval Act of 1794 which created a permanent standing Navy. Often forgotten by politicians, the navy would languish throughout the 1800s with outdated and few ship designs, until the start of the 20th century, when by the end of WWI, the US Navy had more sailors and an equal number of capital ships as the vaunted British Royal Navy. Earning stunning victory after victory during World War II in the Pacific against the powerful Imperial Japanese Navy, the US Navy would go on to become the world's most powerful, and important, naval force. Although technically a detachment of the US Navy, the US Marines trace their founding to a resolution passed by the Second Continental Congress on November 10, 1775, ordering Captain Samuel Nicholas to raise two battalions of Marines capable of fighting both in ship-to-ship battles and land actions. Also disbanded after the Revolutionary War, a need for a shipborne fighting force arose towards the end of the 18th century, as the fledgling US prepared for the Quasi-War with France, waged exclusively on the high seas between 1798 and 1800. The US Marines would come into their own during the War of 1812 against Britain, where during the Battle of New Orleans, they were directly credited with holding General (and future President) Andrew Jackson's center defensive line. Leading US actions in the Pacific during World War II, American marines would conduct an island-hopping campaign against entrenched Japanese forces, leading to the bloodiest and most violent battles of the second World War. So how do the two services compare? For starters, the US Navy maintains an 8 week basic training course for new recruits, while Marine basic training lasts for 13 weeks. Navy basic training focuses on shipborne operations, with recruits undergoing classes in fire fighting, ship-to-ship communication, and ship and aircraft identification. Marine basic training, meanwhile, focuses on marksmanship, battlefield first aid, and combat tactics. This training focus directly reflects each service's mission statement, with the Navy's mission being to maintain, train and equip combat-ready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas. The Marines' mission, on the other hand, is to act as America's expeditionary force, forward deployed to win battles on land, sea, and air. In terms of size, the US Navy has nearly 326,000 active duty personnel with nearly 99,000 reservists. They operate a total of 480 ships and 2,600 aircraft. The Marines on the other hand are about half that size, with 182,000 active duty personnel and 38,500 reservists. Other than a few patrol craft, they operate none of their own ships and instead are attached to US Navy vessels, but they do operate 1,300 aircraft. Marine aviation is split up into helicopter and fixed-wing attack aircraft squadrons. For helicopter-based close air support, forward air control, escort and reconnaissance, the Marines are equipped with the AH-1W SuperCobra, AH-1Z Viper, and UH-1Y Venom light attack helicopter. The AV-8B Harrier II combat jet gives the Marines the flexibility to also provide close air support, air interdiction, and surveillance operations; as a 'jump jet' design capable of Short Take Off/Vertical Landing (or STOVL) operations from amphibious assault ships or remote, rough airfields, the Harrier perfectly suits the Marine Corps’ expeditionary nature. Beginning in 2016, the Marines began replacing their vaunted Harriers with a STOVL version of the F-35 Lightning II. To provide air superiority for their ground forces and to strike at surface targets, the US Marines are equipped with the F/A-18 Hornet and now, the F-35B Lightning II. In effect, the US Marines are a ground combat force with their own air force, more than a match on their own for most other nation's militaries. The US Navy has no attack helicopters, but does operate a large fleet of choppers for search and rescue, anti-submarine warfare, anti-mine countermeasures, and transport. To establish and maintain air superiority over a nation's coastal areas, and to defend US forces at sea from enemy air attack, the Navy operates the F/A-18 and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. As multi-mission platforms, the navy's Hornets and Superhornets can also be tasked with strike missions against enemy land targets or ships. While the navy is slowly phasing in the F-35C Lightning II, it does not plan to completely eliminate its fleet of Super Hornets, and to date has a further 10 new Super Hornets on order. Tasked with ensuring free-trade for all nations across the world's oceans, the US Navy deploys very frequently. Sailors can be deployed between 6 and nine months at a time aboard a ship, and return home for four to five months before deploying again. As an expeditionary force, Marines have to be constantly ready to deploy to anywhere the US needs manpower fast, and their deployments can range from 30 days up to no longer than 2 years, depending on the state of global affairs and the threat or prosecution of an ongoing war. The US Navy is the most powerful sea-based fighting force in history and ensures that nations around the world have free access to the open sea. American Marines have for over two centuries been the tip of American firepower, fighting in every climate and settled continent in the world. While their missions and equipment may differ, both services are indispensable arms of the US military that work closely together to achieve victory. So, would you ever consider joining the US Navy or Marines? Let us know in the comments. Also, be sure to watch our other video called What is a day in the life of a US Marine like? Thanks for watching, and as always, don't forget to like, share and subscribe. See you next time!



Each branch of the military service had its own version of service numbers. In order by year of creation, these were:

The following are the original service numbers which were first issued to United States military personnel:[2]

  • R-1: Arthur Crean – First service number of the United States armed forces
  • O-1: John J. Pershing – First officer service number of the United States Army
  • 100 00 01: Clayton Aab — First enlisted service number of the United States Navy
  • 532 – Samuel R. Colhoun — Earliest recorded officer service number of the United States Navy
  • 01 – James Ackerman – First officer service number of the United States Marine Corps
  • 20001 – Alexander Schott — First enlisted service number of the United States Marine Corps
  • 1000 – Joseph F. Farley – First officer service number of the United States Coast Guard
  • 100000 – Mason B. Herring — First enlisted service number of the United States Coast Guard
  • 4A: Hoyt Vandenberg – Earliest recorded officer service number of the United States Air Force

The original Air Force enlisted force was composed of personnel formerly of the United States Army Air Forces who continued to use their Army service numbers upon transfer to the Air Force in 1947. Thus, there is no established "first" enlisted service number of the U.S. Air Force since thousands of airmen simultaneously transferred into the Air Force on 18 September 1947.[3]

Service numbers were eventually phased out completely by the social security number; the Army and Air Force converted to social security numbers on 1 July 1969, the Navy and Marine Corps on 1 January 1972, and the Coast Guard on 1 October 1974.[4] Since that time, social security numbers have become the de facto military service number for United States armed forces personnel.

Beginning in 2002, the military began a further effort to protect the use of social security numbers, even within the military itself. New regulations declared that on all but the most official of documents (such as a DD Form 214 or evaluation reports) social security numbers would only list the last four digits. Regulations also were enacted to redact the social security number of reporting seniors (which were written in their entirety) on the personal copies of evaluation reports given to service members. The reason for this was to prevent possible identity theft issues committed by service members who had received a bad evaluation or who were disgruntled with their commanding officer.[5]


The general design of United States service numbers was created first by the United States Army and later adapted by the other branches of the armed forces. Between each branch, service numbers are assigned differently while some branches make a conscious effort to separate officer and enlisted numbers while others do not. It is therefore common in the U.S. service number system for officers and enlisted personnel to perhaps hold the same service number and even more common for service members from different branches to be assigned the same number as well.

The Army is the only branch of service to begin both officer and enlisted service numbers at No. 1. Marine Corps officer numbers also begin at No. 1 but Marine Corps enlisted numbers start much later at #20,001. There is also no service No. 1 in the Navy, Coast Guard, or Air Force although the earliest recorded Air Force officer number was No. 4.

The entire range of United States service numbers extends from 1 to 99,999,999 with the United States Army and Air Force the only services to use numbers higher than ten million. A special range of numbers from one to seven thousand (1–7000) was also used by the United States Air Force Academy for assignment only to cadets and was not considered part of the regular service number system. Another unique service number series was the National Guard which used service numbers solely in the range of twenty to twenty nine million (20,000,000 – 29,999,999).

Service Number Army Enlisted Army Officer Navy Enlisted Navy Officer Air Force Enlisted Air Force Officer Marine Enlisted Marine Officer Coast Guard Enlisted Coast Guard Officer
1–100 World War I enlisted personnel World War I officers Not issued Not issued Not issued Senior Air Force officers formerly of the Army Air Forces Not issued World War I officers Not issued Not issued
101–500 USMC Officers (1920s)
501–1000 Navy Officers (1920)
1001–2000 Navy Officers
(1920s – 1930s)
USMC Officers
Regular USCG Officers
2001 – 10,000 USMC Officers (World War II)
10,001 – 20,000 Regular Army officers (1920s/1930s) B" & "D" Series Numbers
20,001 – 30,000 Regular USAF Officers (1948–1969) Retroactive (1905–1917) Reserve/Warrant USCG Officers (1921-1950s)
30,001 – 50,000 Regular Army officers (1940s/1950s)
50,001 – 60,000 Not issued USMC Officers (1948–1966)
60,001 – 70,000 Regular Army officers (1950s/1960s) Retroactive (1905–1919) Non-Regular USCG Officers (1950s/1960s)
70,001 – 80,000 Non-Regular USCG Officers (1960s/1970s)
80,001 – 90,000 "Special Use" service numbers
90,001 – 99,999 Regular Army (Late 1960s)
100,000 – 125,000 Not issued USMC Enlisted (1920–1935) USMC Officers (1966–1972) USCG Enlisted (1920s/1930s) Not issued
125,001 – 140,000 Navy Officers
(World War II)
Not issued
140,001 – 150,000 Officer Reserves (1920's – 1941)
150,001 – 200,000 Retroactive Service Numbers
200,001 – 255,000 USMC Enlisted (1936–1941) USCG Enlisted (World War II)
255,001 – 350,000 USCG Enlisted (1945–1962)
350,001 – 500,000 Navy Officers (1945–1955) USMC Enlisted (Early World War II) USCG Enlisted (1962–1974)
500,001 – 600,000 Officer Reserves (1942–1954) USCG Enlisted (World War II)
600,001 – 671,000 Navy Officers (1955–1963)
671,001 – 700,000 Navy Officers (1964–1969) Not issued
700,001 – 800,000 USMC Female Enlisted
800,001 – 1,000,000 Special Duty Officers
Not issued USMC Enlisted (Mid World War II)
1,000,001 – 1,700,000 Army Officers (1942–1954) Enlisted Series 100 (Retroactive) USMC Enlisted (1943–1953) Not issued
1,700,001 – 1,800,000 USMC Female Enlisted
1,800,001 – 2,000,000 Early Air Force Reserve USMC Enlisted (1953–1965)
2,000,001 – 2,800,000 Enlisted Series 200 (1920–1971) Not issued USMC Enlisted (1966–1972) USCG Enlisted (1948–1974)
2,800,001 – 2,999,999 Not issued
3,000,000 – 3,999,999 Warrant officers (1957–1969) Enlisted Series 300 (1920–1971) Air Force officers (1948–1969) World War II (Special Duty)
4,000,000 – 4,999,999 Army officers (1954–1957) Enlisted Series 400 (1920–1971) Not issued Female enlisted
5,000,000 – 5,999,999 Army officers (1957–1969) Enlisted Series 500 (1920–1971) Special Duty enlisted
6,000,000 – 6,999,999 Army enlisted (1919–1941) Not issued Enlisted Series 600 (1920–1971) World War II (Special Duty)
7,000,000 – 7,100,000 Enlisted Series 700 (1920–1971) USCG Enlisted (1943–1945)
7,100,001 – 7,999,999 Not issued
8,000,000 – 8,999,999 Female enlisted (1948–1969) Enlisted Series 800 (1920–1971) Female enlisted (1948–1969) Not issued
9,000,000 – 9,999,999 Not issued Enlisted Series 900 (1920–1971) Not issued
10,000,000 – 10,999,999 Regular Army (Enlisted Extra-US) Not issued Regular Air Force
11,000,000 – 19,999,999 Regular Army
20,000,000 – 29,999,999 Army National Guard Air National Guard
30,000,000 – 30,999,999 World War II draftees (Extra-US) WWII crossover #s
31,000,000 – 39,999,999 World War II draftees
40,000,000 – 49,999,999 Special duty enlisted
50,000,000 – 59,999,999 Army draft force
Air Force draft force
60,000,000 – 69,999,999 Army draft force
(Late 1960s)
Air Force draft force
70,000,000 – 89,999,999 Not issued Not issued
90,000,000 – 99,999,999 Philippine Army
Augments (WWII)

Prefix and suffix codes

Service number prefix and suffix codes were one and two letter designators written before or after a service number; a service member could only have one code at any given time. The purpose of these codes was to provide additional information regarding a military service member with the very first prefix codes created by the Army in 1920 and greatly expanded over the next thirty years. The Navy created the first suffix code "W", written after the service numbers of female enlisted personnel, but it was the Air Force that made the greatest use of suffix codes until 1965 when the Air Force switched to using prefixes. Some prefix and suffix codes were also re-introduced, with different meanings, by various branches of military. In the modern age, the only code that survives is the suffix code "FR", written after the social security numbers of Regular Air Force personnel.

Service Number Code Branch of Service Prefix/Suffix Meaning
A Army & Air Force Prefix & Suffix As a prefix, used by members of the Women Army Corps.
As a suffix, used by Regular Air Force officers until 1965.
AA Air Force Prefix Used by personnel of the "Women in the Air Force" (WAF)
AD Air Force Prefix Used by Air Force aviation cadets
AF Air Force Prefix Used by male Air Force enlisted personnel
AO Army & Air Force Prefix First used by the Army Air Corps to denote Regular Army officers who were qualified in aviation. Later used by the Army Air Forces (and eventually the Air Force Reserve) to denote reserve officers
AR Air Force Prefix Used by Air Force dieticians
AW Air Force Prefix Used by Air Force warrant officers
B Navy Prefix Used between 1965 and 1971 as part of the "B-Series" enlisted service numbers
D Navy Prefix Used between 1969 and 1971 as part of the "D-Series" enlisted service numbers
E Air Force Suffix Used by male Air Force warrant officers until 1965
ER Army Prefix Used by enlisted members of the Army Reserve
F Army Prefix Used by field clerks during the First World War
FG Air Force Prefix Used by officers and warrant officers of the Air National Guard
FR Army & Air Force Prefix & Suffix Used briefly as an Army prefix by some enlisted members of the Army Reserve. Later used as an Air Force prefix for all officers and warrant officers of the Regular Air Force. After 1969, used as a suffix for Regular Air Force officers, written after the social security number.
FT Air Force Prefix Used by Air Force officers and warrant officers who were without a component
FV Air Force Prefix Used by Air Force Reserve officers and warrant officers
H Air Force Suffix Used by female Air Force warrant officers until 1965
K Army & Air Force Prefix & Suffix As a prefix, used by female specialist officers with service numbers of 100,001 and higher.
As a suffix, used by Air Force Academy cadets until 1965
KF Army Prefix Used female Regular Army officers
L Army Prefix Used by enlisted members of the Women's Army Corps
MJ Army Prefix Used by Occupational Therapist Officers
MM Army Prefix Used by Physical Therapist Officers
MN Army Prefix Used by male members of the Army Nurse Corps
MR Army Prefix Used by Army enlisted dieticians
N Army Prefix Used by female nurse officers
NG Army Prefix Used by National Guard personnel
O Army Prefix Originally used by Regular Army officers prior to World War II.
In the 1960s, used by Army specialist officers.
OF Army Prefix Used by male Regular Army officers
R Army Prefix Originally used by Regular Army World War I enlisted personnel.
In the 1960s, used by Army officer dieticians
RA Army Prefix Used by Regular Army enlisted personnel
RM Army Prefix Used by Regular Army enlisted personnel holding
temporary commissions as warrant officers
RO Army Prefix Used by Regular Army enlisted personnel holding temporary reserve officer commissions
RP Army Prefix Used by retired Regular Army enlisted personnel upon recall to active duty
RV Army Prefix Used by female warrant officers granted reserve commissioned officer billets
RW Army Prefix Used by male warrant officers granted reserve commissioned officer billets
T Army Prefix Used by flight officers appointed from an enlisted status
UR Army Prefix Used by draft peronnel who are later appointed
officers in the Regular Army
US Army Prefix Used by enlisted draft personnel of the Army of the United States
W Army, Air Force, Navy, & Marine Corps Prefix & Suffix As a prefix, used by Regular Army Warrant Officers. Also used by female Regular Air Force officers and female Marine Corps enlisted personnel. As a suffix, used by Navy female enlisted personnel
WA Army Prefix Used by enlisted members of the Women's Army Corps
WL Army Prefix Used by female Regular Army personnel granted
officer commissions in the Army Reserve
WM Army Prefix Used by female Regular Army personnel granted
warrant officer commissions in the Army Reserve
WR Army Prefix Used by female enlisted reservists of the Women's Army Corps


  1. ^ "Information releasable under the Freedom of Information Act". National Archives.
  2. ^ National Personnel Records Center, Military Operations Branch, "Service number index and registry of retired, deceased, and discharged military personnel" (2007)
  3. ^ Department of the Air Force, TRF ORDER 1; 26 September 1947
  4. ^ "Service number information". National Archives.
  5. ^ "Navy Fitrep and Eval Writing Guide". Department of the Navy.
This page was last edited on 10 April 2019, at 03:26
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