"The American Soldier" has been named Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2003.
The magazine bestowed the same honour on US soldiers in 1951
The US magazine said soldiers bore the duty of "living with and dying for a country's most fateful decisions".
The award is for the whole of the US military, but particularly for troops who played their part in this year's US-led invasion of Iraq and the 130,000 troops still stationed there.
It goes back to 1927, when it was awarded to aviator Charles Lindbergh.
Time's managing editor, Jim Kelly, said the title had been given to the 1.4 million men and women of the US Army because the "very messy aftermath of the [Iraq] war" made it clear they would have to carry out Washington's policy on the ground.
US Central Command says 269 American troops have died in Iraq since 1 May, when President Bush declared major combat operations over.
The magazine gives special mention to a 12-person artillery survey unit stationed in Iraq.
Two Time reporters "embedded" with the platoon were wounded in a grenade attack earlier this month.
Previous Time magazine People of the Year
1938 - Adolf Hitler
1942 - Joseph Stalin
1950 - American fighting-man
1952 - Elizabeth II
1963 - Martin Luther King
1968 - Astronauts Anders, Borman and Lovell
1977 - Anwar Sadat
1982 - The computer
1988 - Endangered Earth
1998 - Bill Clinton and Kenneth Starr
Three soldiers from the unit - Marquette Whiteside, Billie Grimes and Ronald Buxton - are depicted on the magazine's front cover.
US soldiers were granted the same honour in 1950 during the Korean War.
In a sign of how times have changed, the award was for Man of the Year, and was given to "The US Fighting-Man".