US Army enlisted ranks 1963-66
Private Recruit
PVT E-1  $78
Private
PVT E-2  $86
Private First Class
Private First Class
PFC E-3  $99
Corporal
Corporal
CPL E-4  $185
Sergeant
Sergeant
SGT E-5  $225
Staff Sergeant
Staff Sergeant
SSG E-6  $300
Sergeant First Class
Sergeant First Class
SFC E-7  $340
Master Sergeant
Master Sergeant
MSG E-8  $384
First Sergeant
First Sergeant
1SG E-8  $384
Sergeant Major
Sergeant Major
SMJ E-9  $470
Specialist 4
Specialist 4
SP4 E-4  $185
Specialist 5
Specialist 5
SP5 E-5  $225
Specialist 6
Specialist 6
SP6 E-6  $300
Specialist 7
Specialist 7
SP7 E-7  $340
Specialist 8
Specialist 8
SP8 E-8  $384
Specialist 9
Specialis 9
SP9 E-9  $470

These are the enlisted ranks when I was in the Army 1963-66, showing their names, chevrons (that are sewn onto both sleeves midway on the upper arm), the pay grade (such as E-4, meaning Enlisted grade 4), and a typical monthly salary at the time (these can vary according to the calendar year and with the service member's years of service). The salaries are low by civilian standards because all of a soldier's basic needs — shelter (barracks, bed, lockers, tent), food (mess hall or field kitchen), clothing (uniforms), medical care (dispensary and military hospital) — are provided free of charge. Soldiers who are married get an additional housing allowance to live off-base with their families "on the economy" or on-base in Army housing rent-free and, if they have children, of course schooling is available and free as wel.

The Army also had Warrant Officers (WO) and Commissioned Officers (Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Colonel, General) but I didn't have much to do with them so let somebody else make those tables!

In the table above, the top row shows "command" grades, meaning those that confer authority or the lack thereof. An enlisted man (EM, who can also be a woman)* with chevrons in the first row may give orders to enlisted persons of lower ranks; for example, a Sergeant E-5 can be a team leader, a Sergeant E-6 can be squad leader. The higher level sergeants have responsibility for larger groups (platoons, companies, regiments, etc) but it is shared with officers. For example a company of about 100 or 200 soldiers might have a captain or major as commander who (in peacetime) sits in an office all day and occasionally attends drills or assemblies, and also a first sergeant who deals with the troops on a daily basis. Privates (E-1 through E-3) have no authority. Corporals and Sergeants, who do have authority, are called Noncommissioned Officers (NCOs).

The second row shows the Specialist levels. Specialists could rise in rank and paygrade, but have no authority over others. This allows service members who are skilled in a given (usually technical) area to rise in rank and pay and continue to do what they're good at without having to transfer to management.

Promotions from E-1 to E-2 to E-3 were automatic but I had to go before a promotion board in 1964 for promotion to "Spec 4".

Ranks, abbreviations, insignia, titles, and chevrons change periodically. In fact they have changed at least thirteen times since 1920. All the Specialists except E-4 were elimated between 1965 and 1985.

* When I was in the Army, soldiers either enlisted or (males only) were drafted. Even though draftees didn't enlist, they were also called "enlisted men". Enlisted men or women are any active-duty Army members who are not officers or warrant officers. The draft ended in 1973 but males 18-25 must still register. Draft cards were, and probably still are, the preferred form of ID for teenagers who want buy beer in states where the drinking age is 18.
    Last update:  Fri Sep 10 16:40:55 2021