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March Madness: Military Icons

Updated visual of voting results for March Madness polling. Check our Facebook and Twitter to vote.

While the civilian world focuses on all things college basketball and scribbles away on their NCAA brackets, wanted to get in on the March Madness craze, with our own rendition using various military icons.

The idea follows the standard 16-team, loser-out bracket system that pits two randomly selected military items against each other. The weapon, officer, film or vehicle with the most votes after two days wins and moves onto the next round, while the loser goes home.

Beginning Friday, March 1 and ending Sunday, March 10 at noon PST, readers can fill out their own bracket on based on what options they think will win each round.

The grand prize for the person with the most correct bracket is a $250 visa gift card. If we have multiple people with a correct bracket, there will be a tie-breaker question to deem the winner, so make sure to fill out the tie-breaker question!

Polling will then begin on Facebook Monday, March 11, and each matchup will be polled for 48 hours before a winner advances to the next round.

The final winning military icon will be announced on Thursday, April 11, and the grand prize winner for the March Madness bracket competition will be announced on Friday, April 12.

Edit: the champion of our March Madness military icons competition is General George Patton! Thank you to everyone who participated in the contest and voting.


Round 1

The first round pitches options from four different categories: military weapons, combat vehicles, military officers and military film.

Military Weapons

From military-issued assault rifles to handguns, ask yourself: what screams military louder?

  • Matchup 1: MI Garand vs. M16

No other weapon says World War II than the M1 Garand. The .30 caliber rifle was the first semi-automatic rifle ever to be standard issue for any military force, and it served with distinction for its durability, reliability and accuracy until 1965. Some M1s can still be found on battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan; a true statement of their durability.

If the M1 defined the battle against fascists in Germany, the M16 illustrates war in the muck and heat of Southeast Asia in the ’60s and ’70s. The M16A1 replaced the M14 as the standard issue rifle in 1969, following some modifications that included a bolt assist and an upgraded 30-round magazine. Some 8 million have been produced around the world, making it the most-produced 5.56 mm caliber firearm.

  • Matchup 2:  M1911 vs. Beretta M9

The iconic M1911 has been in military service for more than 100 years. It started as the standard issue sidearm for U.S. forces in 1911 and would remain in widespread use through 1986. Its popularity and stopping power have, however, have kept the .45 caliber M1911 the sidearm of choice for Special Forces, the U.S. Navy and several law enforcement agencies under the designation M45.

The Beretta M9 was adopted by the U.S. military in 1985, after winning trials in the 1980s to replace the M1911A1 as the primary sidearm when the Department of Defense sought to align the weapons of all five branches. The DoD also wanted to establish a common pistol round to simplify logistics with its NATO allies. The pistol uses a 15-round magazine, compared to the M1911’s seven rounds.


Combat Vehicles

Whether its by air, land or sea, the military uses specially engineered vehicles to transport them from one area to the next.

  • Matchup 3: M4 Sherman vs. M1 Abrams

The M4 Sherman was the most widely used medium tank in the World War II. It wasn’t faster, more powerful or more heavily armored than its German rival; America could just build them faster than their Axis challengers. Those superior numbers (some 49,000) and their proven reliability meant they ruled the battlefield around the world for another two decades.

The M1 Abrams is a third generation main battle tank that is known for being highly mobile but still heavily armored and well armed to fit the demands of modern warfare. First fielded in 1980 to replace the M60, The M1 is the main battle tank for the Army and Marine Corps and also used by five other allies.

  • Matchup 4: A-10 Thunderbolt II vs. F-16 Fighting Falcon

The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, or the Warthog, is a single-seat jet that military circles either love or hate. The straight wing aircraft that was specifically designed for close air support. Entering service in 1976, the “hog” is equipped with a 30 mm rotary cannon that splits 70 rounds per second, air-to-surface missiles and cluster bombs.

The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon was designed as a fighter to rule the skies in the late ’70s and morphed into a multi-role aircraft that is still in service by the Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard. The F-16 is flown by more than two dozen air forces around the world with more than 4,5000 being produced.


Military Officers

Millions of men and women have served with distinction; choose your favorites from these four well-known veterans.

  • Matchup 5: Gen. George Patton vs. Gen. Colin Powell

Gen. George S. Patton, known as “Old Blood and Guts”, was arguably the most controversial U.S. general of World War II. Soldiers under his command in the Mediterranean or during his Third Army’s stroll through France and Germany considered him a soldier’s general for his hard-driving, profanity-laced personality.

By contrast, Gen. Colin Powell’s career spans two tours in Vietnam and four years Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the Department of Defense, during the Persian Gulf War in 1991. He then served as Secretary of State under President George W. Bush a decade later, after service as chairman for America’s Promise, a national nonprofit to build character in children.

  • Matchup 6: Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower vs. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant

President and Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower had a military career that spanned over 46 years of active duty service. He is known for his leadership in WWII as a Supreme Allied Commander and eventual General of the Army. He oversaw and carried out “Operation Overlord”, the Allied assault on Normandy (D-Day).

As commanding General of the Union Army, Ulysses S. Grant worked closely with President Lincoln to win the Civil War and end slavery in the South. Starting out at West Point, he first saw combat in the Mexican-American War. Grant emerged a seasoned officer, and went on to become a renowned strategist in the Civil War, and later the 18th President of the United States.


Military Film

These famous military movies and series tell important stories. Which ones do you favor?

  • Matchup 7: The Longest Day vs. Full Metal Jacket

Focusing on the Allied landings on D-Day, The Longest Day weighs in at almost three hours long and stars John Wayne, Richard Burton, Red Buttons and Sean Connery. The 1962 film won two Oscars. Joseph Lowe, an extra, even scaled the cliffs of Pointe-Du-Hoc for the cameras, just as he did as a private in the Second Ranger Battalion on D-Day 17 years earlier.

The 1987 film Full Metal Jacket follows a platoon of Marines from boot camp to the Tet Offensive in 1968. It stands as the last Stanley Kubrick film released during his lifetime. Marine turned actor R. Lee Ermey landed the role of Sgt. Hartmann after complaining about how soft the other actors were; Kubrick disregarded his complaint, so Ermey went full on drill sergeant on him, ordering him to stand at attention when he was being spoken to. Kubrick instinctively obeyed. Ermey got the role and was even allowed to craft his own lines.

  • Matchup 8: Generation Kill vs. Twelve O’Clock High

Generation Kill is an HBO seven-part miniseries that aired in 2008. It’s based on a 2004 book of the same name, written by war reporter Evan Wright on his experience with the Marine Corps during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It was received well by service members and critics alike, and nominated for 11 Primetime Emmy Awards.

A 1949 American classic, Twelve O’Clock High chronicles the service of the Eighth Air Force, who flew bombing missions against Nazy Gemrany and occupied France in early WWII. Bomber pilots of that era cited the film as the only Hollywood adaptation that accurately depicted their combat experiences. Gregory Peck led an ensemble cast to four Academy Award nominations and two wins.


Round 2

The second round determines the final winner of each category: weapons, combat vehicles, officers and film.

Weapons Final

  • Matchup 9: Winner of 1, 2

Combat Vehicles Final

  • Matchup 10: Winner of 3, 4

Officers Final

  • Matchup 11: Winner of 5, 6

Film Final

  • Matchup 12: Winner of 7, 8


Round 3

The third round determines the bracket semifinalists.

Semifinal 1

  • Matchup 13: Winner of 9, 10

Semifinal 2

  • Matchup 14: Winner of 11, 12


Round 4

The fourth and final round determines the overall winner.


  • Matchup 15: Winner of 13, 14 — the winner of’s 2019 March Madness military bracket.

The final winning military icon will be announced on Thursday, April 11, and the grand prize winner for the March Madness bracket competition will be announced on Friday, April 12.

You can find the contest rules and entry here.

Edit: the champion of our March Madness military icons competition is General George Patton! Thank you to everyone who participated in the contest and voting.


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