I am looking over my Grandfather's DD214 (Military Discharge Paperwork) from WW2. His grade says "S. SGT" I am trying to figure out his rank conclusively. Nowhere on the DD214 does it display an E-5 or E-6. What is his rank?

The question seems easy, but here's the catch: In today's Army a Staff Sergeant is an E-6, but in the Air Force it is an E-5. He served in the Army Air Force, so I'm not sure what his actual rank is.

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    I am confused, wasn't your grandfather British last time? DD214 seems to be a US form however. Are we talking about the US Army Air Force? Commented Oct 21, 2011 at 14:09
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    This is still solved by a little googling: military-sf.com/Ranks.htm lists "WW2 US Army Air Force: Staff Sergeant" as E-6. Note that Air Force was part of the Army during WW2. Commented Oct 21, 2011 at 14:15
  • The question about the patch was a hypothetical question positing that someone went through their grandfather's things and found a patch. I chose that specific patch because it would not be unreasonable that an American GI would have one as a souvenir, and that it would be more difficult to find than an American military patch. This is an actual question I had that I felt fit here. Commented Oct 21, 2011 at 18:18

1 Answer 1


As has already been pointed out in the comments, the US Army Air Force was actually a combat branch of the US Army. It originally was called the Air Corps, but then became known as the US Army Air Force in 1942. It had it's own commander who reported to the Chief of Staff of the Army. Since this was officially a branch of the US Army, the ranks that were distributed at that time were still US Army ranks. That means that your grandfather's rank would have been that of a Staff Sergeant, E-6.

The branch of the military currently know as the US Air Force didn't come into existence until 1947. At that time, they established their own rank hierarchy and introduced ranks that identified their servicemen as different levels of "Airman" (even though most people of this rank never actually spent any time in the air). The Staff Sergeant rank in the USAF is designated as an E-5, with the E-6 designation becoming the Technical Sergeant.

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