I’ve been gratified by the positive responses I’ve been getting to these Tough Trivia questions, so I’ll be continuing them indefinitely. But in the coming days, I’m going to make a few tweaks. The questions are going to go onto a regular daily category rotation (I’m still working out the details), and I’m also hoping for more input from you. Do you have a favorite trivia question you’d be willing to share? (Don’t post it, but do drop me a private message with it.) Is there a specific category or theme you’d like to see more of? (Feel free to post it in a comment.) Stick around: I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do. And now, on to today’s question:
This is one of my favorite trivia questions when I give talks on the Presidents. I usually present it as a series of hints sprinkled through the talk, but for you, I’ll give all the hints at once. Name the only two people who have received electoral votes in five different elections.
Hint 1: They were members of two different political parties.
Hint 2: They each had a win-lose record of 4 and 1.
Hint 3: They were both active in the 20th century.
Friday’s question was: Can you name all the five-star generals (and admirals) who ever served in the US military? (There are probably fewer of them than you think.)
The answer is:
The US military established five-star ranks in 1944, to remedy the awkwardness of some US commanders being placed in the position of commanding allied officers of higher rank. The five-star rank was retired in 1981, upon the death of Omar Bradley.
The Fleet Admirals were:
- William D. Leahy (appointed December 15, 1944, at the age of 69; died July 20, 1959)
- Ernest King (appointed December 17, 1944, at the age of 66; died June 25, 1956)
- Chester W. Nimitz (appointed December 19, 1944, at the age of 59; died February 20, 1966)
- William Halsey, Jr. (appointed December 11, 1945, at the age of 63; died August 16, 1959)
General of the Army was a four-star rank in the years after the Civil War (granted to Ulysses Grant, William Sherman, and Philip Sheridan, who died in 1888). During World War II, it was established as a five-star rank. The Generals of the Army were:
- George Marshall (appointed December 16, 1944, at the age of 64; died October 16, 1959)
- Douglas MacArthur (appointed December 18, 1944, at the age of 64; died April 5, 1964)
- Dwight D. Eisenhower (appointed December 20, 1944, at the age of 54; served as President, 1953–1961; died March 28, 1969)
- Henry H. Arnold (appointed December 21, 1944, at the age of 58; became the only five-star general of the Air Force when the Air Force was formed in 1947; died January 15, 1950)
- Omar Bradley (appointed September 22, 1950, at the age of 57, while serving as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; died April 8, 1981)
In addition, two officers who had previously been promoted beyond four stars were retroactively granted five-star rank: Admiral of the Navy George Dewey (appointed in 1903, but the appointment was made retroactive to 1897; he died in 1917), and General of the Armies John J. Pershing (appointed in 1919, he died in 1948).
And finally, as part of the bicentennial celebrations, George Washington was posthumously made permanently senior to all other offices with the title of General of the Armies on July 4, 1976, and the appointment was made retroactive to July 4, 1776.
Ian’s Tough Trivia is a daily feature of this blog. Each day, I post a tough question, as well as the answer to the previous day’s question. At some point, I’ll offer a prize for whoever has the most correct answers, and another for whoever participates most often (I’ll take into account people coming in after the start: regular participation starting later is just as good as regular participation starting earlier). There may also be a prize for the funniest or most amusing wrong answer. Simply comment on this post with your answer. I’ll approve the comments after the next question is posted. Sure, you can probably find the answers by searching the web, but what’s the fun in that?