In Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers reference was made a few times to "the thirty-one crash landings", the thirty-one offenses that warranted the death penalty for the soldier who committed them. One was "striking a superior officer." Another was "pusillanimous conduct in the face of the enemy" which covers desertion, hiding or turning tail and running instead of fighting.

Since Heinlein borrowed liberally from military lore and tradition for this novel I have long assumed the other crash landings were lifted from some military code of conduct somewhere. But I could be wrong about this--- the non-military parts of the Troopers society handed out the death penalty for things we would not say rated death even when Troopers was published, except perhaps in the Jim Crow South. So the crash landings could just be a grim dystopian invention.

Is there a list somewhere of the thirty or so offenses that would get a soldier hung in a typical Western style army and presumably Heinlein's M.I.?

  • 1
    Don't forget "tax fraud" - the movie shows one such case in its "news feed"
    – Yasskier
    Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 3:11
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    Admitting we actually like the Starship Troopers movie despite all its warts is probably on the list. Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 3:11
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    Tax fraud wouldn't be on the list. The list only applies to those currently in the military. Also, referring to that abomination of a movie to answer a question about the book is just WRONG.
    – JRE
    Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 8:24
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    I firmly believe that Bob would have whole-heartedly approved of the movie if only for the coed showers.
    – Broklynite
    Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 8:30
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    @Yasskier - to put it mildly, the movie and the book share a name, the fact that there's a war with insectoid species, and a names of a couple of characters. That's pretty much it Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 15:10

1 Answer 1


There was no detailed list I'm aware of, several of them were listed in Chapter 8, discussing Dillinger's fate.

Not counting the technical matter of desertion, Dillinger had committed at least four capital crimes; if his victim had lived {{meaning murder was one of 31 -DVK}}, he still would have danced Danny Deever for any one of the other three — kidnapping, demand of ransom, criminal neglect, etc.

However, this seems to likely have been applicable to civilians as well, not just the military.

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    A bit of scepticism about the second part of your last claim: Just because demand for ransom was a capital offense for a soldier does not imply that it was for a civilian. Cp. rape: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 18:29
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    Contrary to popular belief (not criticizing, I will first admit ignorance), UCMJ is not an extension of the normal criminal code that covers crimes specific for uniformed men, but it replaces all criminal codes for member of the armed forces and civilians serving in support of the military during wartime. So a lot of crimes will show up in both military and civilian crime code, but penalties and requirements of establishing guilt or qualification will of course be different. For example. UCMJ has Art 118 (Murder), Art 125 (kidnapping) in it...
    – AcePL
    Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 9:39
  • The "crash landings" get you thrown out; capital crimes get you executed. It's not clear that kidnapping et al are crash landings, nor that they aren't just representatives of one category if so (e.g. "capital crimes").
    – fectin
    Commented Dec 6, 2022 at 13:08

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