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In Celebration of the brave men and women who protect our freedoms, here are some more fun facts you didn’t know about the DoD

The U.S. Department of Defense was established on August 10th, 1949.

Yep, you heard that right. The DoD is only 71 years old–that’s pretty young for such an important department of our government. Compare that to the year 1775, when the Army, Navy, and Marines were established.

The creation of the DoD all came together with the National Security Act of 1947 which made it easier for the joint forces of the U.S. Armed forces to coordinate with the President, working as a team to extend the mission of the new department.

To celebrate the birthday of the DoD, here are some facts you may not know about the DoD and the Pentagon.

Did you know that the Department of Defense is the Nation’s Largest employer?

With over 1.4 million active-duty personnel and 718,000 civilian personnel, the DoD is the largest employer in the United States.

Compare that with the likes of mega-retailer Target, which only employs about 360,000 personnel.

The DoD isn’t just composed of soldiers and generals. A wide array of skilled personnel including linguists, cybersecurity experts, communications professionals, mechanics, lawyers, and engineers make up the diverse workforce of the DoD.

Did you know that Armed Forces Entertainment is a division of the DoD?

Before Armed Forces Entertainment, there was “Camp Shows Inc,” a program created in 1941 by President Roosevelt and the newly-formed USO to boost morale for our troops in combat zones during World War II.

From 1941 to 1945, over 7,000 performers including Bob Hope, Judy Garland, John Wayne, and Lucille Ball traveled overseas to entertain the troops during World War II, making “Camp Shows Inc” the largest booking agency in the world at the time.

Bob Hope entertaining troops during WWI
AFE Veteran Bob Hope made 57 tours between 1941 and 1991. SOURCE: NPR

To ensure that the legacy of those muddy “Camp Shows” would be secured for future generations, the DoD created the Armed Forces Entertainment Office (AFPEO) in 1951, and in 2005, the Air Force assumed command of AFE to further optimize logistics.

The DoD is housed in the Pentagon, the largest office building in the world

At 6.4 million square feet over five floors, the Pentagon has three times the floor space of the 102-floor Empire State Building, providing workspace for over 23,000 DoD personnel.

There’s even a five-acre park in the middle of the Pentagon, which includes an outdoor cafe area and entertainment space for DoD personnel. Live performances and events are often held in the space, including concerts by AFE Artists Catchpenny and Five Star Iris.

To put that size into perspective, the US Capitol could fit entirely into any one of the building’s five reinforced concrete segments.

Such an enormous structure required an enormous amount of materials to build. Since steel and marble were in short supply during World War II, the US Government chose to use concrete instead–a lot of concrete. Nearly 700,000 tons of sand and gravel were excavated from the nearby Potomac River to provide building materials for the project.

By building the structure with concrete instead of steel, the architects of the Pentagon were able to save enough steel to construct an entire battleship. The Pentagon was built in record time–1 year and 4 months–by more than 15,000 personnel working 24 hours a day in shifts, a feat which would have taken over 4 years to complete under a conventional build schedule.

Why is the Pentagon Shaped like a Pentagon? Because that was the shape of its original site.

The Pentagon was originally planned to be built on the USDA’s 1,100-acre Arlington Experimental Farm, which was next to the Arlington National Cemetery. Nearby access roads made it difficult to build a normal rectangular structure, so a unique 5-sided pentagon shape was chosen to fit within that area like a puzzle piece.A map of the Pentagon

Image Source: Army Archives, Washington Post File

However, plans to build the Pentagon on this site were scrapped due to concerns that the new building would block the view of the monuments across the Potomac.

Instead, the Pentagon was built on the site of Hoover field, an old airport from the 1920s which was known for having unpaved runways and dangerous visibility.

President Roosevelt decided to keep the five-sided design because it was unique and it could be built quickly in sections. As for the original Pentagon site? It became Arlington Farms, a temporary housing complex for female civil servants and service members during WWII.

Fun Fact: Messengers in the Pentagon used an unconventional mode of transportation in the early days…

Before there were telephones and email, some Pentagon messengers used… Roller skates?

 

It’s hard to believe, but messengers used to ride roller skates, bikes, and even electric vehicles around the Pentagon.

Since each of Pentagon’s five sides is 921 feet long, that makes the building’s perimeter span almost a mile in diameter. And with over 17 miles of conveniently interconnected hallways across five stories, it’s easy to understand why they would have used roller skates.

In the 1960s, Air Force Secretary Eugene Zuckert was actually struck by a vehicle crash in the hallway by his office.

Today, it’s so much easier to just send an email.

Celebrate with Sarge!

Armed Forces Entertainment

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