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Who was the First G.I. Joe?

Originally published under Ask Mr. History. Published Online: April 04, 2012 
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Dear Mr. History,

Do you have time to research the term "GI Joe"? I'd like to know when it first came into use, if it initially referred to anyone in particular, etc.

Thanks,

–K

? ? ?

Dear Karen,

The original use of the term "G.I. Joe" (a naturally alliterative spinoff from the WW2 term "Government Issue," as well as the less formal "General Infantry") was in a cartoon launched in 1942 by Sergeant David Breger for Yank the Army Weekly. It was immensely popular in U.S. Army circles and the name became generic for the "Average Joe" in uniform, and has remained so ever since. After the war Breger continued the cartoon in the Saturday Evening Post as "Private Breger" (although by war's end he had achieved a lieutenant's commission).

That help?

Sincerely,

 

Jon Guttman
Research Director
Weider History Group
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