Old Soldiers

Matt at Blackfive recounts a conversation with a major he had as a young lieutenant:

Me: What have you got to complain about, Sir? You could retire any time.

Major D.: Retire? @#$% you, LT! I’m thirty four years old!!!

He attributes the major’s apparently advanced age to his heavy coffee and cigarette consumption. My guess is it had more to do with Matt’s relative youth than the major’s vices.

My first battery commander (an Army captain) was a Mustang, so much older than the other ones in the batallion. All the LTs, myself most certainly included, teased him about how old he was. He was 34.

Now that I’m 39 and back in a DoD environment, I’m amazed at how young the majors and lieutenant colonels are looking these days. The lieutenants and captains? Babies.

FILED UNDER: Environment, Humor, Military Affairs,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DC Loser says:

    Ain’t it scary? Sometimes I bump into acquaintances who are my year group contemporaries and they’re colonels now. To me they’ll always be the young lieutenants and captains from long ago. And you’re right about the current crop of company grade officers, they look way too young!

  2. Boyd says:

    At my “advanced age” (it’s now been over 30 years since I first entered service), I’ve been thinking the same thing about the colonels and (Navy) captains.

  3. Steve says:

    Same experiences here. I got out of the Army about 10 years ago and now I am a Navy civil servant (but in the a Joint command). I have started running into old peers who are now lieutenant colonels and senior majors. I don’t feel old – I’m 35! – but it freaks me out some times.