Five-Star Generals and Admirals of the United States

In December of 1944, in the midst of World War Two, the new Five-Star officer rank was created, allowing generals and admirals to place a total of five stars on their uniforms and flags. In all, four Army generals, four Navy admirals and one Air Force general have held this rank.

U.S. Flag

George Washington holds the highest rank in U.S. military history, "General of the Armies of the United States," (note the plural use of "armies") which was awarded posthumously. General John "Black Jack" Pershing was awarded the title "General of the Armies of the United States," but wore only four stars. By an act of Congress (Joint Resolution of Congress, Public Law 94-479) in 1976, George Washington, was said to "have precedence over all other grades of the Army, past and present."

Following the U.S. Civil War, Congress created the rank of "General of the Army." In 1866, General Ulysses S. Grant was given this title. Upon Grant's retirement from the Army in 1869, General William T. Sherman followed Grant in this office. In 1888, General Philip H. Sheridan was promoted from Lieutenant General to General of the Army, and held that office until his death.

After the Spanish -American War, and the complete destruction of the Spanish fleet by Admiral George Dewey, he was promoted to the special rank of Admiral of the Navy by an act of Congress in 1903. The date of his rank was retroactively set to 1899. Dewey is the only naval officer in American history to be given the rank of Admiral of the Navy.

In more modern times, notable military figures to achieve four-star rank include:

General Joseph Stillwell (Army), General Carl Spaatz (Air Force), General George S. Patton (Army), Admiral Raymond A. Spruance (Navy), Admiral Husband E. Kimmel (Navy), General Mathew B. Ridgway (Army), General Hoyt S. Vandenberg (Air Force), General Curtis E. LeMay (Air Force), Admiral Hyman Rickover (Navy), General William Westmoreland (Army), Admiral John S. McCain Jr. (Navy), General Creighton W. Abrams Jr. (Army), General Alexander Haig (Army), General Norman Schwartzkopf (Army), General Colin Powell (Army), General Wesley Clark (Army), General Tommy Franks (Army), General David H. Petraeus (Army), General Stanley McChrystal (Army), General Ann Dunwoody (Army-1st Female 4-star General), General Peter Chiarelli (Army), General James Mattis (Marines), General John F. Kelly (Marines), General Maryanne Miller (Air Force), General Mark A. Milley (Army)


 The Army's Five-Star Generals:
General George C. Marshall

General Douglas MacArthur

General Dwight D. Eisenhower

General Omar N. Bradley


The Navy's Five-Star Fleet Admirals:

Admiral William D. Leahy

Admiral Ernest J. King

Admiral Chester Nimitz

Admiral William F. "Bull" Halsey


The Air Force Five-Star General:

General Henry "Hap" Arnold --Note: General Arnold actually was awarded this rank twice. In 1944, he received his fifth star while the air force was still part of the Army. It was then known as the U.S. Army Air Forces (AAF). After the AAF separated from the Army in 1947 and was renamed the United States Air Force, Arnold became the new service's only five-star General of the Air Force.
Sources and Links:
Military District of Washington Fact Sheet --Information from the Military District of Washington.

U.S. Total Army Personnel Command--Information from the Army Personnel Office on General's ranks.

Ann E. Dunwoody --Wikipedia article on the Army's first four-star general

Dunwoody becomes first female four-star general--USA Today, Nov. 14, 2008

4-star general, 5-star grace--CNN, Feb. 13, 2011

Meet America's Only Female Four-Star General-NBC, Nov. 8, 2019


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