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 (1900-1938) Pre-WWII Battles Other than WWI    
KJ Martin
New User
E-2 Private
Posts: 2

Foreign nationals enlisting in the US army in 1929
Posted on: 1/28/2016 12:47:23 PM
In 1929 if a foreign national enlisted in the US army would they have had to have provide any identification? I know of an instance whereby a foreign national enlisted under an assumed name, most probably at Fort McPherson. To do this would he he had to have had false identity papers/passport/green card etc. or was it a case of he was merely taken at his word in those days? This foreign national then went on to be Elvis Presley's manager, in case you were wondering......

Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5306

Re: Foreign nationals enlisting in the US army in 1929
Posted on: 1/28/2016 2:16:26 PM
Hello KJ Martin and welcome. I have not seen your name on a post before.

I believe that non citizens may enlist in the US military but they have to be legal residents. So they would have to provide proof of status I would think.

There is a restriction on how high up the ranks that a non citizen may be promoted. But that is today.

As well, in the late 1800's, the US military demanded facility in English before a man could be enlisted.

But I have read that over half a million US soldiers of WW1 were immigrants and that presented a problem for the military as many of these men could neither read nor write English.

And I think that it was in the 1920's that the US military introduced programmes to integrate foreign born into the forces. That included socialization classes, ESL and civics lessons.

I was reading from the Selective Service System web site and it seems that all men, including undocumented (illegals) are required to register for SS, just in case the draft is needed.

Now how that is enforced, I don't know.

You may be interested in this article that explains to veterans, even undocumented veterans, how to go about becoming "naturalized".

[Read More]

So it seems that undocumented people have served in the US military.

Immediate Right to Apply for Citizenship for Military Personnel Who Performed Active Duty
You don't even need a green card (permanent residence) to apply for U.S. citizenship if you served honorably and on active duty with the U.S. Armed Forces during one of the wars or conflicts named below. You can go straight from being an undocumented or illegal immigrant to applying for and receiving U.S. citizenship. Of course, if you already have a green card, you can also use this section to avoid the five-year period that most people must wait before applying for naturalization. (See I.N.A. section 329, 8 U.S.C. section 1440.)
You must, however, have enlisted (signed up) while you were still on U.S. territory. The recognized U.S. territories include the Canal Zone, American Samoa, Swains Island, and a noncommercial U.S. ship.
Here are the conflicts that qualify you for immediate U.S. citizenship:
World War I (April 6, 1917 to November 11, 1918)
World War II (September 1, 1939 to December 31, 1946)
the Korean hostilities (June 25, 1950 to July 1, 1955)
the Vietnam hostilities (February 28, 1961 to October 15, 1978)
the Persian Gulf War (August 2, 1990 to April 11, 1991)
"Operation Enduring Freedom" (also called the "War on Terrorism" or "Iraq Hostilities", which began September 11, 2001 and will end when the U.S. President issues an order so stating).
If you enlisted during one of the times of war listed above, you will be allowed to apply for naturalization after only one day of military service, and you can apply while you're overseas (or in the United States).

I would think that requirements to enlist would be less stringent in war time than in peace time.



KJ Martin
New User
E-2 Private
Posts: 2

Re: Foreign nationals enlisting in the US army in 1929
Posted on: 2/1/2016 4:06:33 AM
Thanks George

That was just what I was after. The fact that he could have in theory really helps me with what I'm writing at the moment.

Mike Johnson
Stafford, VA, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant

Posts: 492

Re: Foreign nationals enlisting in the US army in 1929
Posted on: 3/10/2016 12:05:58 AM
In 1929 there were an unknown number of people in the US that were foreign nationals--likely in the millions. This was before the day of registration and green cards and very limited controls on borders and at ports. Registration came in about 1940 with WW2.

The Army had frequently had individuals that were not US citizens join.

74 PA
Woodbridge, VA, USA
top 50
E-4 Specialist
Posts: 68

Re: Foreign nationals enlisting in the US army in 1929
Posted on: 2/19/2017 4:55:54 PM
Up until the First World War there were none or virtually no restrictions on foreign nationals serving in the US military. There were periodic requirements about officers and/or men having a facility with reading and writing English, but these were not always enforced. For example, the 74th Pennsylvania was a primarily German unit in the Civil War. Most of its records from 1861 through the third quarter of 1862 were written in German, even though a majority of its officers actually spoke English. Only in October 1862 when Adolf von Hartung, a Prussian immigrant, rose to command was it mandated that all orders and records be done in English. Von Hartung, although he was a German-speaking immigrant, felt that English was the language of the United States and should therefore be used in his unit. With the enactment of the Selective Service Act of 1917, "all male citizens, or male persons (non-citizens) not alien enemies (i.e., citizens of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire) who have declared their intention to become citizens between the ages of twenty-one and thirty years" were liable for military service. This restriction was imposed in reaction to the large number of German-born and sons of German immigrants who had sought to serve in the German armed services against the allies. But while exempt from service, foreign nationals could still obtain waivers to their exemption from service and did indeed serve.
For so long as one hundred men remain alive, we shall never under any condition submit to the domination of the English. It is not for glory or riches or honours that we fight, but only for liberty, which no good man will consent to lose but with his life

 (1900-1938) Pre-WWII Battles Other than WWI    
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