Third Lieutenant


New Member
Does anyone have any information on a rank called Third Lieutenant? The way I understand it is that it was similar to the Naval rank of Midshipman.
In the old days (meaning around the Napoleanic wars), you could have several lieutenants on a man of war, depending on its size. The larger ships sometimes had four lietenants (possibly more, but four is the most I have ever heard of), and the most junior of those would be the "Fourth Lieutenant." All of these lieutenants were actual commissioned officers, and different from the master's mates and midshipmen that might be aboard the vessel.

The modern Army equivalent of the rank of midshipman is cadet.
silent driller said:
Third Lt sounds like a cool handle for a forum member!

Oh yes, right you are :) :) :)

There is also (or used to be anyway) a program in the US Army called the Third Lieutenant Program. I sends (or sent anyway) senior cadets who are 1 year out from graduation from USMA out to units in the Army during the summer months to gain actual experience in a regular unit, usually of their prospective branch. They wear the USMA Cadet SSI and insignia except for a silver bar with a black stripe down the long axis (not unlike the new CW5 insignia).

I always thought it was an interesting concept that should have been expanded to ROTC.
The modern Army equivalent of the rank of midshipman is cadet.

Geeze, I read the Caine Mutiny as a kid, and if I remember correctly, he was in a officer (or similar too) position in actual combat. But hey, if it's a punk cadet ran then, I'll make sure not to salute any in the future.
3rd Lieutenant

[FONT=&quot]I was a "3rd Lieutenant" in Vietnam. Recently I saw a nice collection of TET photos showing the reality of those days in Vietnam… and of course the continuing danger of today’s wars as well. I missed TET by a couple years, but had a ‘taste’ in 1970 as a USAF Academy cadet. Later, I did finally show up as a combat F4 pilot in SEA just before the whole thing was over and so saw some of it.[/FONT]
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[FONT=&quot]But as an Air Force Academy cadet during that time I saw many such pictures (and film) and we were all eager to get to the war. [/FONT]
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[FONT=&quot]The summer of 1970, I volunteered for the “3rd Lieutenant” Southeast Asia program and was assigned to a C-130 outfit in Cam Ranh Bay. Lunchtime of my first day I was welcomed to Vietnam by a rocket attack. The sirens went off and the rockets started exploding. I dived under the table at our Mess Hall desperately grasping for my helmet (no pistol for the ‘cadet’). Everyone calmly sitting in their chairs started laughing and yelling “Say hello to the new guy”! It seems that the VC were ‘civilized’ there, and they only attacked the Flightline side of the base and the Ammo/POL dumps. They left alone the hooches and mess halls. I was embarrassed but grateful … until a pilot and I headed over to the squadron (on the flightline side!). [/FONT]
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[FONT=&quot]While I was at Cam Ranh Bay, I got to patrol the perimeter at night, drive the ‘rat patrol’ Jeep, fired at VC boats, experienced a “sapper attack”, and sat through plenty of boring lectures by those unlucky enough to be assigned to “keep the cadet busy”. I also flew in the C130 to many airfields and ‘fire bases’ (one in Cambodia which wasn’t there, tee hee) hauling in mail and munchies and munitions. Those huge artillery guns are LOUD! Alas I didn’t get a helicopter mission, but I viewed “Buff tracks” and Agent Orange scenery, and even made it up to Taiwan on a maintenance mission. But my best mission was one with a “[ame=""]Commando Vault[/ame]” 15,000 pound bomb (yes, really). We were at 8,000 feet when it rolled out the back of the C-130, and then I felt the concussion when it went off! I’ll never forget that.[/FONT]
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[FONT=&quot]After USAFA graduation, Marriage (to Sandy!), Pilot Training, F4 training and ‘Snake School’ I was finally assigned to Udorn (4th Ftr Squadron) and got to fly some combat missions to Cambodia before the ‘ceasefire’. Of course, thousands more Vietnamese civilians would die at the hands of the Communists before the countryside was ‘re-trained’. Then Cambodians, then thousands of Kuwaitis, and thousands of Iraqis, and Afghans, and it never ends …[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]But Cam Rahn Bay was my first introduction to combat, and also to the greeting, “Say hello to the new guy”. As every ‘new guy’ learns, the proper response is “Hello ___”. Uh, it has something to do with the south end of a northbound donkey. [/FONT]:)[FONT=&quot][/FONT]
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The rank of Third Lieutenant has been used by the military at several points in U.S. history, especially during the Civil War. A brevet 2nd Lieutenant was often called a Third Lieutenant. During the War of 1812 the port guards - local yokels who volunteered to defend coastal cities where or near the city where they lived - who were selected were Third Lieutenants. They were numerous. As far as I am aware, they did not receive presidential commissions, certainly not always, and were somewhat analogous to a Warrant Officer today. However, they were considered part of the officer corps, and sometimes were promoted to higher rank. Perhaps, that is where the custom of referring to brevet Second Lieutenants as Third Lieutenants.
During the Civil War the title was widely used in the Union Army, again for volunteers who were selected to be trained as officers, and at least as of yet did not have a presidential commission. In the Confederacy Third Lieutenant was an official rank, the 0-1 rank of the CSA Army. This is a brief precis, but all I have time or energy for right now.
In the US and CS Armys there was 1st and 2nd Lt. insignia, 1 Sgt and Sgt insignia, and Cpl. insignia. In a fully manned and staffed Company there were positions of 1st-3rd Lt., 1st-5th Sgt., and 1st-4th Cpl. There are notations of promotions of postions like from 3rd sgt to 2nd Sgt or getting busted from 3rd Cpl to 4th Cpl.