Facts about Phis in The Military
"What Might Have Been..."

General John "Black Jack" Pershing was the commander of the American Expeditionary Force in World War I. General Pershing led the American Forces to victory and was awarded with the rank of General of the Armies (in effect a six star general compared to General of the Army a five star general). It is a rank that only he and General George Washington have held. But did you know that Pershing was not President Woodrow Wilson's first choice? President Wilson's first choice to lead the American Forces if the United States were to ever enter the war was Major General Frederick Funston, Kansas 1890. General Funston was deemed as the superior officer and American's best soldier by Wilson. Unfortunately General Funston died of a heart attack just months before the United States entered the war thus paving the way for the ascension of General Pershing.

"Brothers in Blood, Brothers in Arms"

In the history of the Medal of Honor only 5 pairs of brothers have been awarded the medal. The first pair of brothers to receive the Medal were John C. Black, Wabash, 1862 and William P. Black Wabash, 1864 who were raised in Danville Illinois. Phi Delta Theta is the only fraternity to hold this very rare distinction among its alumni.

"We all Fight for Freedom"

Robert Patterson, Union College, 1912 a Distinguished Service Cross Recipient, who later served as Undersecretary of War under Pres. Roosevelt and then Secretary of War under Pres. Truman was a very accomplished soldier and politician. One of the accomplishments he was the most proud of was his efforts in desegrating the US Army. He strongly opposed units which were composed of just one race believing that there should be no racial distinction between soldiers who fight for the cause of freedom.

The Origin of Meals Ready to Eat (MREs)

In 1938, then Major Wilbur R. McReynolds, Ohio University, 1915 (later a general) led the effort to develop a high-calorie, balanced meal that could be stored easily, for fighting troops in the field. The first C-rations consisted of six cans. Three held meat and vegetables and the others biscuits, coffee and sugar. The c-rations eventually gave way to k-rations a more desirable version of its predecessor. In turn k-rations became the MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) which are used today.

World War II Canadian Distinction

The first and last Canadian fighter pilots to lose their lives in World War II were both Phis. Horace George Yelland, Univ. of Manitoba, 1936 was the first Canadian pilot to lose his life when his airplane crashed on December 1, 1939 during a reconnaissance flight. Robert Hampton Gray, University of British Columbia, 1940 was killed on August 9, 1945. Gray was not only the last Canadian pilot to die but is often regarded as the last Canadian to die in World War II. Japan surrendered less than a week after Gray's death.

"A Star Above All"

Vern Haugland University of Montana, 1931 was a well known war correspondent during World War II. During one of his assignments the B-26 he was riding on was shot down over New Guinea. He parachuted and fought and survived through the jungles for five weeks before finally being picked up by Allied Forces. For his ordeal, he was personally awarded the Silver Star by General Douglass MacArthur. What was so special about this particular Silver Star? It was the first one ever awarded to a civilian.
*Also listed under Facts about Phis in the Media

Operation Downfall

Operation Downfall was the name given to the Allied invasions of Japan by Allied forces during World War II. The invasions never took place because of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Lt. General Charles P. Hall Univ. of Mississippi, 1909 was slated to command his XI Corps during the invasion. With 113,000 men, he would've commanded the largest unit during the campaign.

The First to the Top

First Phi to achieve rank of full:
General in the Army: Bernard Rogers, Promoted to full General on November 1974.
General in the Air Force: Charles Horner, Promoted to full General on July 1, 1992.
General in the Marines: John K. Davis, Promoted to full General on July 1, 1983.
Admiral in the Navy: Louis de Steiger, Promoted to full Admiral September 10, 1927.

"Consistent Courage"

Arthur Champeney is the only soldier in the United States military history to received 3 Distinguished Service Crosses in 3 seperate wars: World War I, World War II and the Korean War.

"A Global Fighting Force"

Most Phis who serve in the military do so for either the United States or Canada. However, there are a very small number who have fought for other countries such as England, France, Italy, Holland and Turkey.

"The Blue Army"

Of the fraternities which were founded before the Civil War, Phi Delta Theta was one of only a handful of fraternities founded in a Northern state whose members overwhelmingly fought for the Union Army. More than 80% wore the Union blue. Other Northern fraternities such as Beta Theta Pi, Sigma Chi and Phi Gamma Delta had their members split roughly evenly between Union and Confederate forces.

"Never Too Young To Lead"

At the age of 24, Edwin K. Thomson , University of Wyoming, 1939 became the youngest US Army battalion commander during WWII. After the war, he was elected a US Congressman and then Senator but died before he could assume office in the Senate.

The Early Days

The Civil War is often regarded as the first war in which Phis have actively been engaged in. However, this is not necessarily correct. Two soldiers, who fought in the Mexican-American War, which started two years before the fraternity was founded, later became Phis. The first foreign war a Phi fought in was the Crimean War (1853-56) when William Montague Browne, one of the few "Honorary" Phis fought in the British Army against Imperial Russia. Browne would later become a Confederate General during the Civil War and served briefly as Secretary of State for the Confederacy.

How rare is Lt. Robert Hampton Gray's awarding of the Victoria Cross?

Lt. Robert Hampton Gray is...
One of only 90 Canadians to ever receive the Victoria Cross
One of only 16 Canadians to receive the Victoria Cross in World War II
One of only 4 Canadian Aviators to receive the Victoria Cross
The only Victoria Cross Recipient of World War II who was also a member of a college fraternity
One of only 2 Victoria Cross Recipients who were ever members of a college fraternity (The other being a member of Zeta Psi)
The last serviceman to receive the Victoria Cross in World War II
The Last Canadian to be ever awarded the Victoria Cross. As of 1993 Canadians are no longer eligible for the British Victoria Cross as the medal was replaced with a new Canadian Victoria Cross (this award has not yet been awarded, however).
The only foreign servicemember to have a memorial on Japanese soil. (Located in Onagawa, Japan)

Battlefield Record

The Civil War

Of the 429 Phis who were still alive before the war started, 281 fought in the Civil War. This translates to 65.5%. Phi Delta Theta had a greater percentage of its members enageged in the war than any other fraternity

The Spanish American War

286 Phis fought in the Spanish American War, more than any other fraternity.

World War I

Out of a membership of 21,000 roughly 8,000 served in the war. 155 were killed or missing in action. Of those killed, 1 received the Medal of Honor and 5 were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

The Supreme Sacrifice

"To the memory of the sons of Phi Delta Theta who gave their lives in the wars of their country. Their sacrifice will be remembered by continuing generations who will strive to fulfill their dream of lasting peace and universal brotherhood."
The Memorial Tablet at the General Headquarters

The exact number of Phis who have died in service is unknown. "Official Records" are numbers or names taken from Phi Delta Theta literature. Estimated records are an educated guess based on the frequency of when deaths were reported in issues of the Scroll. The estimation themselves are conservative at best. It is difficult to determine the approximate figure. For example in the case of World War II, an early 1946 issue of the Scroll determined that 559 Phis died in service. Later in the year, it was determined that 663 Phis had died during the war with 37 coming from Canada. The 1947 Phikeia Manual listed 757 deaths. However, the 26th Edition of the Phikeia Manual (1982) mentioned that 800 of them died as many deaths were still being reported years after the end of WWII.

Below are only those who lost their lives during a time of war. If an estimation were created to also include Phis killed in noncombat roles, the number would exceed well over 1100. In comparison to records of other fraternities (using the Official Records number), Phi Delta Theta has lost more of its members in service than any other fraternity.

Official Records Estimated
Phis in Service Killed/Missing in Action Phis in Service Killed/Missing in Action
Civil War 281 20 281 20
Indian Wars --- --- --- ---
Spanish-American War 286 0 286 0
Philippine-American War --- 1 --- 1
World War I 5,000 155 6,000 155
World War II 17,000+ 756 20,000 800+
Korean War --- 25 --- ~50-75
Vietnam War --- 30 --- ~100-125
Persian Gulf War --- 0 --- 0
Iraq War/Afghanistan --- 2 --- 2
Total --- ~975 --- ~1100