Mustang (military officer)
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A mustang is slang term in the United States Armed Forces, referring to a commissioned officer who began his or her career as an enlisted service member. Mustangs are older and more experienced than their peers-in-grade who entered the military via commissioning from one of the service academies (such as the United States Merchant Marine Academy, United States Military Academy, United States Air Force Academy, United States Naval Academy, or United States Coast Guard Academy), Officer Candidate School, or the Reserve Officer Training Corps. During the Vietnam War, however, when some Army warrant officer pilots were offered a direct commission to 2nd or 1st Lieutenant, they were usually younger than 25 at the time of commission.
A United States Navy or United States Marine Corps mustang can be a Chief Warrant Officer, a Limited Duty Officer, a Staff Officer, a Restricted Line Officer or an Unrestricted Line Officer, depending on their particular situation.
The original definition of a mustang was a military officer who had earned a battlefield commission; they were especially prevalent during World War II and the Korean War. Notable examples include Audie Murphy (World War II) and David Hackworth (Korean War).
A mustang is currently defined by a continuity in military service from enlisted to officer (i.e., no break in military service). Being a slang term, there is no precise definition or set of criteria to determine which officers can properly be called a "mustang"; as the term varies in usage and criteria from service to service.
The term originated either just prior to, or during World War II, initially as a naval term, although other service's officers are beginning to be adopt the term.
It refers to the Mustang horse, a wild animal and therefore not a Thoroughbred. A mustang, after being captured, can be tamed and saddle broken but it always has a bit of wild streak, and can periodically revert to its old ways unexpectedly and therefore the owner needs to keep an eye on it at all times. However, since a mustang was formerly a wild and free animal, it may very well be smarter, more capable and have a better survival instinct than thoroughbreds.
- Winfield Scott (1786-1865) - War of 1812 cavalry corporal who earned a captain's commission in 1808. Was a three star general during the American Civil War.
- Samuel Chamberlain (1829-1908) - Dragoon sergeant of the Mexican War who re-enlisted in 1861 and eventually became a general.
- John Murphy (Saint Patrick's Battalion) (born c.1820, date of death unknown) - Irish sergeant who deserted the US army during the Mexican War and received a commission in the San Patricios.
- Johnny Clem (1851-1937) - Enlisted in the US Civil War as a drummer boy and retired as a US Army general in 1917.
- Nathan Bedford Forrest (1821-1877) - Began his career in the Confederate States Army as a private in the cavalry and was commissioned colonel in 1861.
- Patrick Cleburne (1828-1864) - British army corporal who later became a Confederate general.
20th and 21st centuries
- Jeremy Boorda (1939–1996) – Rose from the USN enlisted ranks to become a four-star admiral and Chief of Naval Operations. Committed suicide in 1996 while serving as CNO.
- Dale Dye (born 1944) - Retired USMC captain. Awarded Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts during the Vietnam War.
- Wesley L. Fox (born 1931) - Retired USMC Colonel, who rose from the ranks of Pvt. to 1stSgt to Colonel. Awarded Medal of Honor, Bronze Star (with Combat V), and four Purple Hearts during the Vietnam War.
- David Hackworth (1930-2005) - Korean War and Vietnam War veteran. Retired in 1971 with the rank of colonel.
- James Mattis (born 1950) - Retired USMC General. Enlisted in the USMC in 1969 and was commissioned a second lieutenant through ROTC on January 1, 1972.
- Audie Murphy (1925-1971) - Actor who received the Medal of Honor in World War II and later held a major's commission in the US National Guard.
- John Shalikashvili (1936–2011) – Enlisted in the Army in 1958; applied to and accepted in Officer Candidates School the following year. Went on to become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and retired as a four-star general in 1997.
- Larry D. Welch (born 1934) – Enlisted in the Kansas National Guard in 1951; later enlisted in the USAF and rose to become Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force. Retired as a four-star general in 1990.
- "James Mattis speech, "In the Midst of the Storm: A US Commander's View of the Changing Middle East"". 2013-09-25. 80:10 minutes in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vzl8hZWzVpI&feature=share.
- Reynolds, Nicholas E. (2005). Basrah, Baghdad and Beyond. p. 4. ISBN 9781591147176. Retrieved 20 February 2013.