President Joe Biden made an unannounced visit to Kyiv, Ukraine, on Monday ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion. The president’s visit marked the first time in modern history that a U.S. commander-in-chief visited an active war zone without a U.S. military presence.
During his visit, Biden met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and pledged another multi-million dollar military aid package to Ukraine, which will include more ammunition for U.S.-provided High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and howitzers, as well as Javelins, anti-armor systems and air surveillance radars.
While his particular visit was unique, given the lack of U.S. military personnel present, Biden’s journey does add him to a long list of U.S. presidents who have made an appearance in war zones.
During the Civil War, with Confederate troops invading Washington in July 1864, Abraham Lincoln visited the nearby battlefield at Fort Stevens. It is considered one of the only times in American history where an incumbent president came under direct fire from an enemy combatant.
Amid the height of World War II, President Roosevelt left the White House for various overseas conferences and to visit Allied military installations.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
The president-elect visited troops who were only recently pulled out of the line after months of hard fighting.
Lyndon B. Johnson
President Johnson stopped by Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam, in 1967 after a visit to the country a year earlier.
Before U.S. forces withdrew from Vietnam, President Richard Nixon made his way overseas to the country for a brief visit.
President Reagan observed positions in North Korea from the South Korean side of the demilitarized zone in 1983.
George H. W. Bush
After U.S. troops deployed in 1990 for Operation Desert Shield, the elder Bush made a Thanksgiving visit to military personnel in Saudi Arabia.
In addition to a visit with U.S. troops in South Korea, President Bill Clinton spent time with military personnel in Bosnia in both 1996 and 1997.
George W. Bush
President George Bush, who oversaw the deployment of U.S. troops to both Afghanistan and Iraq, made numerous visits to both war zones during his two terms in office. He also made multiple trips to South Korea.
During his eight years in office, President Barack Obama stopped to see military personnel in Iraq as well as in Afghanistan and South Korea.
President Donald Trump visited troops overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan during his term. In 2019, he also made history at the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea before visiting troops at Osan Air Base.
Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media