To Our Active and Former Military: Did You Forget Your Oath?

Oaths of Enlistment and Oaths of Office

The wordings of the current oath of enlistment and oath for commissioned officers are as follows:

“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

(Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).

“I, _____ (SSAN), having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.”

(DA Form 71, 1 August 1959, for officers.)


During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress established different oaths for the enlisted men and officers of the Continental Army:

Enlisted: The first oath, voted on 14 June 1775 as part of the act creating the Continental Army, read:

“I _____ have, this day, voluntarily enlisted myself, as a soldier, in the American continental army, for one year, unless sooner discharged: And I do bind myself to conform, in all instances, to such rules and regulations, as are, or shall be, established for the government of the said Army.”

The original wording was effectively replaced by Section 3, Article 1, of the Articles of War approved by Congress on 20 September 1776, which specified that the oath of enlistment read:

“I _____ swear (or affirm as the case may be) to be trued to the United States of America, and to serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies opposers whatsoever; and to observe and obey the orders of the Continental Congress, and the orders of the Generals and officers set over me by them.”

Officers: Continental Congress passed two versions of this oath of office, applied to military and civilian national officers. The first, on 21 October 1776, read:

“I _____, do acknowledge the Thirteen United States of America, namely, New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, to be free, independent, and sovereign states, and declare, that the people thereof owe no allegiance or obedience to George the third, king of Great Britain; and I renounce, refuse and abjure any allegiance or obedience to him; and I do swear that I will, to the utmost of my power, support, maintain, and defend the said United States against the said king, George the third, and his heirs and successors, and his and their abettors, assistants and adherents; and will serve the said United States in the office of _____, which I now hold, and in any other office which I may hereafter hold by their appointment, or under their authority, with fidelity and honour, and according to the best of my skill and understanding. So help me God.”

The revised version, voted 3 February 1778, read

“I, _____ do acknowledge the United States of America to be free, independent and sovereign states, and declare that the people thereof owe no allegiance or obedience, to George the third, king of Great Britain; and I renounce, refuse and abjure any allegiance or obedience to him: and I do swear (or affirm) that I will, to the utmost of my power, support, maintain and defend the said United States, against the said king George the third and his heirs and successors, and his and their abettors, assistants and adherents, and will serve the said United States in the office of _____ which I now hold, with fidelity, according to the best of my skill and understanding. So help me God.”

The first oath under the Constitution was approved by Act of Congress 29 September 1789 (Sec. 3, Ch. 25, 1st Congress). It applied to all commissioned officers, noncommissioned officers and privates in the service of the United States. It came in two parts, the first of which read:

“I, A.B., do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) that I will support the constitution of the United States.”

The second part read:

“I, A.B., do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) to bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and to serve them honestly and faithfully, against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever, and to observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States of America, and the orders of the officers appointed over me.”

The next section of that chapter specified that

“the said troops shall be governed by the rules and articles of war, which have been established by the United States in Congress assembled, or by such rules and articles of war as may hereafter by law be established.”

Although the enlisted oath remained unchanged until 1950, the officer oath has undergone substantial minor modification since 1789. A change in about 1830 read:

“I, _____, appointed a _____ in the Army of the United States, do solemnly swear, or affirm, that I will bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and that I will serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever, and observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States, and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to the rules and articles for the government of the Armies of the United States.”

Under an act of 2 July 1862 the oath became:

“I, A.B., do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I have never borne arms against the United States since I have been a citizen thereof; that I have voluntarily given no aid, countenance, counsel, or encouragement to persons engaged in armed hostility thereto; that I have neither sought nor accepted nor attempted to exercise the functions of any office whatsoever under any authority or pretended authority in hostility to the United States; that I have not yielded voluntary support to any pretended government, authority, power, or constitution within the United States, hostile or inimical thereto. And I do further swear (or affirm) that, to the best of my knowledge and ability, I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter, so help me God.”

An act of 13 May 1884 reverted to a simpler formulation:

“I, A.B., do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

This version remained in effect until the 1959 adoption of the present wording.

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Wes Rhinier
Editor
14 days ago

I have not forgotten

FedUpFLman
FedUpFLman
14 days ago
Reply to  Wes Rhinier

Good to see you back Wes. I have been praying more than ever for an answer man, i get the same answer each time, “WE THE PEOPLE ARE THE FIX”

Robert Housholder
Robert Housholder
14 days ago

I to have not forgotten, but many today don’t even honor there Oath, about 90% don’t and no one is there to make them Honor it. Sad times in America now !

tom finley
tom finley
14 days ago

I to took the oath in 1968.

Mike
Mike
14 days ago

I meant it when I enlisted, and even though I retired over 20 years ago, I still do.

a follower, working on it.
a follower, working on it.
13 days ago
Reply to  DRenegade

Many people took and take oaths. How many seek a personal relationship with their savior?
looking back i am shocked by men &(mankind) what was going in the military. The things we were engaging in etc. i did not see a lot of moral and upstanding examples of men while in the military. That is not to say there were no good examples.
As many point out, until ‘True’ repentance is reached there can be no healing of our land and peoples. This is an Individual type of journey!
MANY SEEM TO THINK THEY WERE SPECIAL AND NOW TAKE ADVANTAGE OF MEAL PRICING, SPECIAL PARKING AND NUMEROUS AMOUNTS OF ‘WORLDLY’ FAVORITISMS. SORRY ABOUT THE CAPITAL LETTERS. was not intended, but perhaps there is a purpose.
What does the Bible say and warn about such favoritism? That warning was not just about seating while in a church!

Last edited 13 days ago by a follower, working on it.
NITZAKHON
NITZAKHON
14 days ago

I worked for the Army as a civilian. I took the oath, however, and it’s never expired.

enn ess
enn ess
14 days ago

I took mine upon entry into the USMC back in 1967, understanding then that it is a lifelong commitment. It helped that there was a plethora of officers and NCO’s with the same feelings and outlook. I remember well we would follow our officers, some of us into battle whose outcome was an unknown factor, others doing sometimes dangerous jobs, and still others doing mundane jobs. We followed our officers and their orders because we trusted them, because they were “Accountable” and would not knowingly lead us astray or into unknown areas without just cause.
Lt. Col. Scheller was such a leader, and why he had a following, as his NCO’s did, because he held himself accountable. The accountability is what MAKES them LEADERS. Now being punished for his very leadership and accountability, demanding the same from his superiors.
And all we can muster now is military leaders who pride themselves in playing political games with their only accountability actions being how they can discover and eliminate their white privilege and inclusivity.
Chesty Puller and Smedely Butler would have shot every damn one of them.

FedUpFLman
FedUpFLman
14 days ago
Reply to  enn ess

True, honest, courageous men will only be punished, until WTP stand up and say ENOUGH…This has got to stop. We cant possibly stay on this path another year without invasion or one within.
I will give my oath and give my life if needed, wherever and whenever the time comes. This country is worth it. The kids are all worth it. I hope these soldiers Uphold those oaths!

ModernThrowback
ModernThrowback
14 days ago

If you’re a Fed, you also took the Oath, and we don’t un-swear or un-do the Oath when we leave…