When World War II began in 1939 with Germany’s invasion of Poland, only about 334,500 Americans were serving in the military. Over the following years, through both conscription and voluntary enlistment, the ranks of the U.S. military swelled, peaking at an estimated 12.2 million in 1945.
The “arsenal of democracy,” the U.S. not only produced nearly two-thirds of Allied military equipment during the war, but also mobilized over 16.3 million troops throughout the conflict – more than any other Allied country except the Soviet Union. The mass military mobilization was the largest in U.S. history and drew thousands of men and women from all 48 states, as well as Alaska and Hawaii, neither of which had been granted statehood at the time of the war. (These are the 17 guns Americans used to win WWII.)
Using data from The National Archives, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states where the most people enlisted in World War II. States are ranked by the number of people who were residing there at the time they enlisted in the U.S. Army or U.S. Army Air Forces during the war.
According to The National Archives records, anywhere from about 1,800 to over 930,000 Americans enlisted in the Army from each of the now 50 states during WWII. However, official records acknowledge that about 13% of all Army enlistees at the time are not reflected in these numbers. Adjusting for the undercount, approximate enlistment figures from each state fall between 2,000 and 1.1 million residents. (These are the states with the most living WWII veterans.)
The states that sent the most troops to fight in World War II were also those with large populations. Adjusting for population reveals that some states made an outsized contribution, however. New York, for example, was the most populous state in 1940 and the only state where over 1 million residents were estimated to have enlisted during the war. However, only about 7.8% of New Yorkers enlisted during the war, the 13th largest share among states.
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