A fan theory posted to Reddit this week has grown so popular that the United States Army has been forced to issue an official statement on it.
The theory is as follows:
I made the joke to girlfriend that Captain America has been in the Army for 66 years and is still just a captain. She told me yeah but he’s been frozen since 1945. Then I said oh my gosh that means that they owe him 66 years back pay because technically he was never relieved of Duty. So I did the math.
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.
After doing this calculation, the saddest part to me is that is still ridiculously low for the danger that he and all other American soldiers, past and present, put themselves in. God bless the American troops.
The talk of the back pay controversy led the Army to issue a statement in response.
“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,” Army spokesman Wayne Hall told media in an email. “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.”
Hall then went on to further clarify some details in the original theory, saying that “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.”
However there were several discrepancies with the fan’s numbers that would actually mean Cap’ would be owed substantially more money.
Hall said the fan theory “misinterpreted military pay scales” when calculating the biannual increase of pay and failed to take into account “any potential promotions that may have been bestowed upon Rogers while he was listed in a ‘Missing’ status.”
Some Redditors brought up other concerns that Cap would have been handled differently.
Commenter Rob_T_Firefly posted: “‘Back pay’ my eye, this slacker showed up to work 66 years late acting like he still has a job. The nerve of that guy.”
That lead to a discussion about whether Captain America would be declared AWOL, MIA, or KIA (presumed), with another user saying that if the Marvel Universe VA is anything like ours, “he’s still waiting on benefits, and likely had to refile two or three times because the paperwork got lost or rejected.”