Evangelicals in the Military and the Code of Conduct


by Lori Lyn Bogle



In his 2005 The Faith of the American Soldier evangelist and best-selling author Stephen Mansfield claims that U.S. forces fighting in Iraq lack the traditional religious structures and doctrines of previous generations.  Infected with postmodernism, today’s youth “acquire their religions much as they catch colds: through casual contact with strangers,” resulting, he argues, in an armed forces with a mere parody of faith, “not only without a system but also often without cohesion.”[1] What the military needs now, according to Mansfield, is a warrior code based on religious principles, for soldiers to live by and with the power to both create spiritual unity and to prevent moral disgraces like the My Lai massacre and the Abu Ghraib prisoner of war scandal.

What Mansfield doesn’t realize is that such a code already exists.  Or at least at one time evangelicals in the military claimed that they were influential in the creation and the interpretation of such a document as an answer to the spiritual crisis they believed America faced during the early cold war.  The authors of the 1955 Code of Conduct for Members of the Armed Forces of the United States envisioned a text that was far more then just a six point set of rules of behavior for captured service personnel.  Instead, key officials at the Pentagon saw this new, “tougher” standard for POWs as the core of a comprehensive revitalization program for all Americans in the spiritual fight against atheistic communism.  While these grandiose plans promptly failed, the Code itself, despite two revisions and inconsistent training, became an indispensable document for the armed forces. It has provided guidance and comfort for many American POWs in their darkest hours of captivity.  The text also serves, with its civil/religious statement of moral principles, as a prototypical faith-based warrior code. "I will never forget that I am an American," the revised Code proclaims, "fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free.  I will trust in my God and in the United States of America."[2] 

* * * * * *

The U.S. military has historically used a generalized, non-denominational faith mixed with patriotism, to both create an effective fighting force as well as to shape a national will supportive of a strong defense.  This so-called “American civil religion” has fostered unity and a will to fight by homogenizing the Protestant, Catholic and Jewish faiths into a palatable message of redemption through sacrifice.  For the most part inspirational depictions of America as “God’s chosen nation” and the U.S. military as the “holy instrument of divine will” have not seriously challenged the separation of church and state.  During times of national emergency, however, religious nationalism increases as evangelicals (a fuzzy term denoting a wide range of Christians from fundamentalists to more liberal believers who publicly proclaim the saving power of Jesus Christ) exert both their personal and patriotic faiths more forcibly.[3]

The period of most intense religiosity in the military hierarchy came at the beginning of the cold war when a number of factors combined which empowered key high-ranking evangelicals.  The post WWII anticommunist Christian revival led by evangelists such as Billy Graham certainly played a role.[4]  At the heart of the nationwide upsurge in religious piety was a pervasive belief that the country was in the midst of a national character crisis that left it vulnerable to attack.  While it’s difficult to determine how many admirals and generals identified themselves as born-again Christians, there was general agreement in the Pentagon with Graham that Americans, strong during the war, now were self-indulgent, apathetic, and effeminate.  Universal Military Training (UMT), according to its proponents, religious and secular, was essential to national defense not to produce battle-ready warriors but to teach American youth obedience, discipline, masculinity, and good citizenship – values then thought lacking in the citizen soldier.[5] 

Presidents Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower believed that weaknesses in the public’s character, even if only perceived, could encourage Soviet aggression.  Both, inspired by the postwar revival movement, advocated strengthening the spiritual armor of the American soldier.  As a result a number of morale programs developed that combined militant anticommunism with lessons in religious nationalism.[6]  In addition, chaplains, increasingly evangelical since the end of WWII, often found wider opportunities to preach the gospel.[7] The U.S. Air Force Chief of Chaplains, Major General Charles I. Carpenter organized his subordinates to pressure recruits to profess a faith.  He also enlisted the help of Moody Bible Institute in a number of revival meetings that had, according to one chaplain, led many officers and men “from the valley of doubt and darkness to light, understanding and faith.”[8] 

Finally, religion gained influence at the Pentagon because of a new emphasis in diplomacy on ideology. In 1946 diplomat George F. Kennan included in his famous containment policy, a proposal for an ideological mobilization of the nation's resources in response to Soviet psychological warfare.[9]  More importantly, in 1950 the State Department identified the lack of an American creed as a vulnerability in the nation’s defenses.  According to the top secret NSC-68, the federal government needed to minimize dissent and to develop an American ideology.  A new unified national will would then replace the nation's diffuse pluralism and enable America to deter the enemy from further expansion militarily, politically, and spiritually.[10]

The Truman and then the Eisenhower administrations struggled to identify this ideology or “American way of life” for various psychological warfare operations abroad. The U.S. had been handicapped in “psyops,” according to Edward W. Barrett, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, because they lacked a formula that would “fire men’s imaginations with a zeal and fervor approaching that of communists.”[11]  By the end of the Korean War a number of government officials at State and in the Department of Defense (DOD) looked to the nation’s postwar Christian revival for answers – not to save souls for Jesus Christ but to preach Americanism with the same missionary impulse of Billy Graham.  A political religion of evangelical democracy could both “fire men’s imaginations” in third world nations resisting international communism and begin the regeneration of the national character.  An opportunity to present evangelical democracy to the American public came in the aftermath of the Korean War Prisoner of War scandal.

By 1953 Pentagon officials were ready and able to broaden their in-service efforts to elevate the national character to include civilians.  The catalyst for their public outreach came when 21 Americans, held captive and reportedly “brainwashed” during the Korean Conflict, refused to return home following prisoner of war exchanges.[12] Eisenhower, an advocate of civilian citizen education, explained that the military had been unable to prepare soldiers for communist indoctrination, because the nation’s youth no longer possessed a "knowledge of what America is...and why they were fighting."[13]  Secretary of Defense, Charles Wilson, appointed the Defense Advisory Committee on Prisoners of War(The Burgess Committee) to investigate and to draft a new code of conduct to augment the old Geneva regulations that dictated proper POW treatment.[14]  The Burgess committee, however, did much more.  It also brainstormed how best to capitalize on public outrage over the so-called “Korean War POW scandal” for the nation’s ideological needs.[15] 

What is surprising about the Korean War POW controversy is that the DOD portrayed it as a scandal at all.  With just a little effort the captivity experience could have been spun as a triumph of American superiority.  After all, the Korean Conflict was the first war that voluntary repatriation played a role in prisoner exchanges. The U.S. had forced North Korea and China to accept this demand during peace negotiations after tens of thousands of enemy POWs requested asylum.  In the end the U.S. could have bragged about the approximately 25,000 enemy POWs that remained in UN hands after Operations Little and Big Switch.[16] The military also could have downplayed the significance of the 21 American turncoats by explaining that in all other wars there have been a number of U.S. soldiers who have chosen not to return home.  Even more surprising than the missed opportunity to spin the story positively was the misrepresentation of facts (or the unwillingness to correct misrepresentations) that cast the narrative in as negative a light as possible.  A number of Korean POWs had attempted to escape and had been tortured (especially early in the war) and all studies proved prisoners undergoing enough torture would collaborate.  But the DOD left unchallenged the public perception that just the opposite had occurred – that there was no torture, no one tried to escape, and up to 1/3 of all American POWs had betrayed their country by collaborating in some way. In Korea, the myth concluded, American democracy had been found wanting because soldiers, no longer taught traditional values, had been unprepared to fight an ideological battle with communism.[17]

The Pentagon propagated the Korean War POW myth in its public relations campaign introducing the Code of Conduct to America.  But why? The DOD didn’t need to create a scandal to get permission to write the Code of the Conduct. It certainly was within its rights to issue guidance on proper prisoner of war behavior.  Perhaps it cast the POW record negatively to gain public attention for its new tougher policies after attacks against liberal influences within its ranks by Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy (Rep. Wisc.) and other red hunters then underway.[18] The publicity surrounding the scandal, however, did help the Pentagon gain public support for expanding Code training to the American public. Both goals can be seen in the debate over the wording of the Code and the public relations campaign that followed its adoption. 

In the final text the Burgess committee had ignored expert testimony that made it clear that a Spartan code of name, rank, and serial number only had always been impossible for servicemen to meet.  It did so, the committee explained, because it was convinced that an inflexible standard of behavior was needed to "toughen up" recruits and revitalize the nation spiritually.[19]  The final code, however, was ambiguously worded in regard to what actions POWs would be held accountable to so each service (but especially the air force) could interpret the document during training according to their specific needs.[20]  There was no misunderstanding, however, that the text clearly implied that a new, more rigorous standard of conduct would henceforth be expected of POWs and of all Americans.[21]  The Code should not be considered a formula for learning how to be a POW, Lt. Col. William E. Mayer, the army’s Code expert claimed, rather, it should be considered "the first principle of American society."[22] Secretary of Defense Wilson called the text the “heart and conscience of all America.”[23]  Admiral Arthur W. Radford, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, proposed that the first article of the Code be a guiding precept for all Americans.  The admiral explained to a convention of evangelicals that, “…when you pledge: I serve in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. These words are the key to the part played by the mind and the spirit in our national security.”[24]

Admiral Radford used his position on the JCS to turn that agency into the chief advocate of the Code of Conduct and its companion program, Militant Liberty, for both an international and domestic audience.[25]  John C. Broger, an evangelist before Radford brought him into the DOD, designed Militant Liberty as a program of “personal evangelism in the political rather than the religious field.” The controversial program compared democracy’s “sensitive individual conscience” to communism’s “annihilated individual conscience” for third world nations and provided a “political religion,” according to its proponents, for revitalizing America’s national character.[26]  After the JCS hired a public relations firm and marketed Militant Liberty across the nation, its officials even traveled to Hollywood in 1955 to urge John Wayne and John Ford to incorporate Militant Liberty themes into motion pictures.[27]  In January of the next year the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, following the DOD’s direction, held a national forum on how to disseminate the Code of Conduct and Broger’s special brand of evangelical democracy to the nation’s homes, schools, and churches.  The Religious Education Association of America recommended that its members include “lessons on responsibility to God and Country into Church curriculum."[28]  Even a "Code of an American Mother" was presented which proclaimed, "I am an American mother, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to impart to my child the principles which made my country free.  Together we will trust in our God."[29]

While the armed forces embraced the Code of Conduct, they quickly rejected Militant Liberty because of its strident civil religious message. To Radford's dismay, military academies refused to incorporate Militant Liberty into their curriculum.  The Marine Corps spoke for a number of critics when it argued that the concept was inappropriate for service personnel as it was based on a fear approach and far too much like political indoctrination.[30] But when links between political extremists and Militant Liberty (as well as connections between some members of the military and the radical right in the notorious cold war seminars of the early 1960s) caught the attention of investigative reporters it became extremely difficult for evangelicals in the military (whether religious or political) to pursue their civilian efforts further.[31] 

Despite the Code of Conduct’s extraordinary origin as a hard-hitting solution to America’s early cold war ideological crisis, it has persisted as a faith-based warrior code because its original ambiguous wording gave it the flexibility to adapt to the changing needs of the military.  Or it did after its first revision during the Vietnam War when the DOD modified its interpretation of treasonous behavior to reflect the realities of torture by changing one word and eliminating another in

Article V. 

I am bound to give only name, rank, service number, and date of birth. (1955)

I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. (1977)[32]


Since Vietnam the Code has often been described as merely an ethical guideline for POW behavior.  But in addition it serves a larger function.  Not only does it augment international agreements and legal regulations concerning prisoners of war, but it also serves the U.S. Armed Forces as a motivational tool by providing a generalized statement of the soldier’s role in the American civil religion.  This warrior faith, reinforced with testimonials from former POWS who attest, as does James Stockdale and John McCain, to its inspirational guidance, has helped build a moral military ethos. While some have questions the Code’s relevance for guiding POW behavior in a war with terrorists, its alternative use as a warrior code should not be forgotten. 

The original Code of Conduct was a battle cry for an ideological war against atheistic communism.  Despite the fact that the military was well aware that American soldiers in Korea had behaved as patriotically as servicemen had in all previous wars, the armed forces actively promoted a POW myth, in order to justify its efforts to reshape the American character.  The irony of the story is that high ranking DOD officials, concerned about uplifting the nation’s moral standards, were willing to tarnish the very reputations of those Americans – the Korean War Prisoners of War -- who had borne the brunt of the war.[33]



End Notes

[1] Stephen Mansfield, The Faith of the American Soldier (Lake Mary, Florida: Charisma House, 2005), 37.


[2] The Code of Conduct for Members of the Armed Forces of the United States, Executive Order 10631, August 17, 1955. Paragraph V changed by Executive Order 12017 on November 3, 1977 to require a POW to give name, rank, service number and date of birth. Paragraphs I, II, VI were made gender neutral by executive order 12633 on March 28, 1988. See Rodney Ray Lemay, “Collaboration or Self-Preservation: The Military Code of Conduct” (Ph.D. diss., University of Arkansas, Little Rock, 1996), 1-2.


[3] Rita Kirk Whillock, "Dream Believers: The Unifying Visions and Competing Values of Adherents to American Civil Religion" Presidential Studies Quarterly (Spring, 1994): 375-376; Robert Neely Bellah, "Civil Religion in America" Daedalus (Winter, 1967) reprinted in Robert Neely Bellah, Beyond Belief: Essays on Religion in a Post-Traditional World (N.Y.: Harper and Row, 1970), 9-15.

[4] Douglas A. Sweeny, "The Neo-Evangelical Movement, 1941-1960: Toward a More Thorough Historiographical Approach" (M.A. thesis, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 1984); Joel Carpenter, "Youth for Christ and the New Evangelicals" in D.G. Hart, ed. Reckoning with the Past: Historical Essays on American Evangelicalism from the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books,1996), 354-375.


[5] Michael Pearlman, To Make Democracy Safe for America: Patricians and Preparedness in the Progressive Era (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984), 41; Mark R. Grandstaff, "Making the Military American: Advertising, Reform, and the Demise of an Antistanding Military Tradition, 1945-1955" Journal of Military History (April, 1996): 302.

[6] In July, 1948, the army’s Character Guidance Program, officially was designated as a command responsibility, but also fell under the direction of the camp chaplain. Stressing a civil/military religious theme, with titles such as "Man is a Moral Being," "Worship in Life," "The Nation we Serve," and "Religion in Our Way of Life," lessons instructed recruits to worship God, "the source of our way of life" in order to effectively serve America, his "covenant nation.” Secretary of Defense Marshall expanded the program to all the services in 1951. Lewis Minyon Durden, “The Army Character Guidance Program” (Master of Sacred Theology Thesis, Yale University, 1952), 17; Venzke, U.S. Army Chaplaincy, 1945-75, 31.

[7] During the early cold war the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) first embraced the opportunity provided by the chaplaincy to advance its particular messianic vision and to counter Catholic and liberal Protestant influences in the armed services.  See Anne C. Loveland, American Evangelicals and the U.S. Military (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1996).

[8]Gene Arnold Getz,“A History of Moody Bible Institute and its Contributions to Evangelical Education” (Ph.D. diss, New York University, 1968), 503.


[9] George Kennan as quoted in Foreign Relations of the United States, 1946, vol. 6 (Washington, D.C.: G.P.O.), 696-709.


[10] Ideological mobilization was just one of NSC-68’s recommendations.  NSC-68 as quoted in Ernest R. May, ed. American Cold War Strategy: Interpreting NSC 68 (NY: Bedford Books of St. Martin Press, 1993), 35, 54.


[11] Edward W. Barrett, Truth is our Weapon (N.Y.: Funk and Wagnalls Co., 1953), 260, 264. Barrett was the father of the Campaign for Truth overseas information program.


[12] Albert D. Biderman, March to Calumny: The Story of American POWs in the Korean War (N.Y.: MacMillan Co., 1963),1-12; Eugene Kinkead, In Every War but One (N.Y.: W.W. Norton and Company, 1959), 18, 148-149; Susan L. Carruthers, “Not Just Washed but Dry Cleaned: Korea and the ‘Brainwashing’ Scare of the 1950s”in Gary D. Rawnsley, ed., Cold War Propaganda in the 1950s (N.Y.: MacMillan Press, Ltd., 1999),47-66;Virginia Pasley, 21 Stayed: The Story of the American GI's Who Chose Communist China -- Who They Were and Why They Stayed (N.Y.: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1955);William E. Mayer, "Why Did Many GI Captives Cave In?" U.S. News and World Report (February 24, 1956), 57-72.


[13] Eisenhower quoted in Thomas Alfred Palmer, "Why We Fight: A Study of Indoctrination Activities in the Armed Forces" Ph.D. diss. University of South Carolina, 1971), 32-33. As president of Columbia University, Eisenhower created the Citizenship Education Project (CEP) to improve citizenship education in the nation's public school system. Travis B. Jacobs, "Dwight D. Eisenhower's Presidency of Columbia University" Presidential Studies Quarterly 60 (summer, 1995): 555-560. Richard William Streb, “A History of the Citizenship Education Project: A Model Curricular Study" (Ed.D. thesis, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1979).

[14] The various services had regulations regarding POW behavior but there had never been a clearly defined code of conduct applicable to all military men.  In 1907 the Hague Regulations established rules pertaining to captivity in war.  These regulations led to the Geneva Conventions of 1929 and 1949.  The Conventions set forth in detail protections for prisoners but did not specify what conduct prisoners were required to maintain. The exception is that the 49 convention instruction POWs to give identifying information to their captors for exchange purposes.  The Burgess Committee consisted of high ranking service personnel and assistant secretaries of the services (among others). U.S. Department of Defense, POW: The Fight Continues After the Battle: The Report of the Secretary of Defense's Advisory Committee on Prisoners of War (Washington, D.C., 1955), 5-6.


[15] Department of Defense, Code of Conduct Program: First Progress Report, 2. Special Assistant Series, Subject Subseries, box 2, file "Code of Conduct Program: Defense (1)," Eisenhower Library (The three separate progress reports will be cited hereafter as First, Second, and Third Progress Report).


[16] The ultimate result was that 21 Americans, 1 British, and 305 South Korean prisoners freely chose to remain with the communists while over 25,000 former enemy combatants remained in the south)Thomas Alfred Palmer, "Why We Fight: A Study of Indoctrination Activities in the Armed Forces" (Ph.D. diss., University of South Carolina, 1971), 32-33.


[17] At first there was disagreement in the military on how to evaluate the Korean POW but the myth was very powerful and once formed the DOD actively downplayed the results of investigations that exonerated the Korean War POW. The DOD struggled with the concept of “brainwashing” and ultimately rejected it.  If POWs were truly brainwashed they could not be held responsible for their actions. Albert D. Biderman, March to Calumny: The Story of American POWs in the Korean War (n.p., 1963); First, Second, and Third Progress Report. 


[18] Christopher S. DeRosa, “A Million Thinking Bayonets: Political Indoctrination in the United States Army” (Ph.D. diss., Temple University, 2000), 144.  The climax to the Army McCarthy hearings came in June 1954 during the Burgess Committee investigations.


[19] Peter Karsten, "American POWs in Korea and the Citizen Soldier: Triumph of Disaster?" in The Military in America: From the Colonial Era to the Present (New York: The Free Press, 1980), 375.  The committee conceded that many prisoners in World War II divulged more than their name, rank, and serial number. The committee felt that old Geneva code was not specific enough and a "line of resistance must be drawn somewhere and initially as far forward as possible.  The name, rank and service number provision of the Geneva Conventions is accepted as this line of resistance."

The Fight Continues, 17.


[20] U.S. Department of Defense, Code of Conduct Program: Second Progress Report, 8-9. Special Assistant Series, Subject Subseries, box 2, file "Code of Conduct Program(3)(4).” DDE library.

[21] U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on Armed Services. Special Preparedness Subcommittee, Military Cold War Education and Speech Review Policies, 8 parts, 87th Cong., 2nd sess., 1962, 1250.


[22] Ibid., 1166.


[23] Charles E. Wilson, circular letter to heads of Congress, 11 January 1956, Second Progress Report.


[24] George Dugan, “Religion called Key to Security,” NYT Oct 26 1955, 16.


[25] Radford also was instrumental in the 1953 "Moral Leadership" program that built pride in the navy and "[got] at the core of the threat of communism through the exposure of our own weaknesses in the moral and spiritual area."  Cold War Education, 1808.  Under the direction of navy chaplains, Radford's pet project taught sailors "Americanism" along with personal finances, marriage counseling, and the dangers of illicit sex.  Ibid., 1809-1810; John G. Hubbell, "Moral Build-Up Gives New Strength to the Navy," The Navy Blue Book (Indianapolis, Indiana: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1960), 131.

[26] Kenneth P. Landon to Mr. Elmer B. Staats, Feb. 11, 1955, box 71, folder OCB 091.4 "Ideological Programs" file #2 (6) (Jan. - May 1955), Eisenhower Library; Palmer, “Why We Fight,” 47-48; Loveland, American Evangelicals and the Military, 57.


[27] Francis Stonor Saunders, Who Paid the Piper: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War (London: Granta Books, 1999), 284-5.


[28] Second Progress Report, 2.


[29] Third Progress Report, 3.; Kenneth P. Landon to Mr. Elmer B. Staats, Feb. 11, 1955, box 71, folder OCB 091.4 "Ideological Programs" file #2 (6) (Jan. - May 1955), Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library. 


[30] Fred C. Schwarz of the Christian Anti-Communism Crusade admired the evangelical aspect of the concept, as did Kenneth Wells of the Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge, a patriotic award-granting organization that also was connected to ultra-conservative political organizations across the country.  See Why We Fight. For more on "Militant Liberty" see Cold War Education, 1047; William Harlan Hale, "Militant Liberty and the Pentagon" The Reporter 14 (9 February 1956):30-34; Department of Defense, Militant Liberty: A Program of Evaluation and Assessment of Freedom (Washington, DC: GPO, 1955).


[31]  The DOD continued the program covertly as Project Action in French Indochina and Latin America. Broger claimed that third world nations were particularly receptive to ideological propaganda.  Kenneth Alan Osgood, “Total Cold War: United States Propaganda in the ‘Free World,’ 1953-1960” (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Santa Barbara, 2001), 309, 312; Second Progress Report, 2; Broger later served next as deputy director of Armed Forces Information and Education in 1956 and then director in 1961.  He also promoted evangelical democracy through his involvement in People to people an international Americanism program founded by Eisenhower.  There is a link between Militant Liberty and Abraham Vereide’s International Christian Leadership that organized evangelicals within the Pentagon and other branches of government with weekly prayer groups. Between 1958 and 1962 the armed forces conducted "cold war seminars" that featured high ranking military officers appearing on panels with extremists who cast suspicion on the patriotism of all Americans holding liberal political and religious views. The DOD ended the campaign in 1963 after Sen. J.W. Fulbright informed Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara of this possible threat to civil/military relations. Until that time cold war seminars distributed radical right materials, spawned localized red scares in their wake, and infuriated critics who viewed the military’s attempt at political and religious indoctrination with alarm.  For more on the development and operation of cold war seminars see Lori Lyn Bogle, The Pentagon’s Battle for the American Mind: The Early Cold War (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2004).


[32] The services stopped teaching strict adherence to the original wording during the Vietnam War when it became clear that a more compassionate stance was needed.  The DOD needed the Pueblo incident, however, to communicate that change in interpretation (now accompanied by change in wording) to the American public.


The Code of Conduct for Members of the Armed Forces of the United States

Executive Order 10631, August 17, 1955

(with revisions in italics)



Paragraph I

I am an American fighting man. I serve in the forces which guard my country and our way of life.  I am prepared to give my life in their defense.


1988 revision: first sentence: I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. 


Paragraph II

I will never surrender of my own free will.  If in command, I will never surrender my men while they still have the means to resist.


1988 revision: “my men” changed to “members of my command”


Paragraph III

If I am captured, I will continue to resist by all means available.  I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape.  I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.


Paragraph IV

If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners of war.  I will give no information or take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades.  If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way.


Paragraph V

When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am bound to give only name, rank, service number, and date of birth.  I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability.  I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.


1977 revision:  When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. 


Paragraph VI

I will never forget that I am an American fighting man, responsible for my action, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free.  I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.


1988 revision:   first sentence: I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my action, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. 


[33] Sociologist Albert Biderman was the first to point out this irony.  Albert D. Biderman, “Dangers of Negative Patriotism” Harvard Business Review (Nov.-Dec., 1962): 93-99; Biderman, March to Calumny, 244.