Posted on Thursday, May 12th, 2016 by Angie Han
Steve Rogers may be a proud son of Brooklyn, but even he can’t afford a place in his beloved hometown anymore, as he admits in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Or so he assumes. It turns out the since Captain America was never officially relieved of duty after he went under the ice in 1945, he’d be entitled to several decades’ worth of back pay from the U.S. Army — as confirmed by an actual U.S. Army spokesman. Find out how much our government would (theoretically) owe this (fictional) all-American hero below.
The question of Captain America army back pay came up (where else?) on Reddit (via Tor). By this poster’s calculations, the U.S. Army owes him 66 years’ worth of back pay (1945-2011), which, once adjusted for inflation, comes out to upwards of $3 million. I won’t pretend to know enough about military payroll to say whether this all checks out, but you can see the math for yourself below:
The O-3 pay grade in 1945 for someone with two years or less experience was $313.50 a quarter. If you had specialized training such as parachuting and Special Operations (which he does) you received an extra $100 per quarter. Plus a quarterly living allowance without a dependent of $82.50. That comes out to $496 a quarter. That’s $1,984 per year for his first three years. So that’s $5,952 right there, considering that he was commissioned the same year that he exited basic.
Also, there is an biannual increase of pay for service with a pay cap at 22 years with no increase of specialized pay or living allowance. Now provided that they kept him at the 1945 pay scale, for the 22 years after that, he would have received a total of $81,684 plus the previous $5,952 giving him a grand total of $87,636.
Now, provided that they kept the pay scale constant for the 66 years after, and they thawed him out in 2011 and immediately returned him to active duty with current Commission (which they did), adjusted for inflation, the government owes him the back pay amount of $3,154,619.52.
It’s an amusing thought exercise, but things got even more interesting when the actual U.S. Army showed up to confirm that, yes, Captain America would probably be entitled to back pay. Said spokesperson Wayne Hall:
If Capt. Steve Rogers (aka Captain America) were not a fictional character and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance and recovery actually real, he may actually be entitled to receive back pay. However, a wide variety of variables would have to be taken into consideration to actually calculate the true amount of back pay to which he would be entitled to receive.
In fact, according to Hall, that $3 million figure is probably too low. “It is correct that the O-3 (Army captain) pay grade in 1945 was $313.50; however it was a monthly pay rate vs. quarterly as the original poster indicated,” he explained. Moreover, he pointed out, the Reddit poster didn’t factor in “any potential promotions that may have been bestowed upon Rogers while he was listed in a ‘Missing’ status.”
In other words, Captain America can too afford a place in Brooklyn — he just has to fill out some paperwork first so the U.S. Army can make him a millionaire. Then again, Brooklyn isn’t exactly the best value these days, even if you’ve got plenty in the bank. Maybe Cap should look into a little fourth-floor walk-up in Hell’s Kitchen. I hear Daredevil’s been working overtime to keep that neighborhood from getting gentrified, so rents are probably still pretty low over there.
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