Celebrities don’t really strike us as the brave, hardworking, patriotic types. That’s why it’s so unexpected to learn just how many hoity-toity types got down and dirty with military service in their lives. These celebrity Veterans and other famous people who served in the military surprised the hell out of us (some more than others).
Some famous Veterans were more than surprising, though. They were pretty shocking for us to discover, and we think you’ll be pretty shocked at a few of these, too. Check them out below with information on celebrities who served in the military, what branch they were in, and how long they served.
Related read: Veteran TV Competitors: Reality Shows Featuring Veterans
15 Famous Veterans
You’re probably already familiar with a few famous people who served in the military. The likes of the iconic Chuck Norris, bad*ss Clint Eastwood, and suave Elvis Presley immediately come to mind. However, there are a few famous Veterans who you’ll be interested in finding out actually served in the military.
1. George Strait
You know George Strait is still “raisin’ cain with the boys,” but who are those boys exactly? Well, maybe they’re his Army buddies from his four years of service in the military. George Strait actually served in the Army from 1971 to 1975. This one may not come as a surprise if you’re familiar with all of the ways George Strait has raised money for the military in his days.
It’s “6 N’ the Mornin’,” and you just found out that this famous rapper served in the military for four years! Ice-T joined the Army in 1979 to support his family during a tough financial time in their lives.
Respect, man. Respect.
3. MC Hammer
Stop, Hammer time!
MC Hammer graduated high school in 1980, but after a short time at a local college, he decided to discontinue continuing education. After he also failed at becoming a big-shot baseball player, he decided to enlist in the U.S. Navy as a last resort. He served for three years as an aviation storekeeper before he was honorably discharged.
4. Jimi Hendrix
Excuse him while he kisses the sky because Jimi Hendrix served in the Army as part of the 101st Airborne Division. He enlisted in 1961, though not out of patriotism or love for his countrymen. He had a brush-up with law enforcement after making the short-sighted decision to ride in stolen cars. The police gave him a choice: two years in jail or Army service. He chose Army service.
However, though he was slated to serve for several years, he was discharged after just about a year of service.
Among many other things, disregard for rules and regulations… aaaand m*sturbating in platoon areas during duty. Yeah, no wonder he was discharged.
5. Drew Carey
You may know Carey as a game show host or comedian, but his time in the Marine Corps was no laughing matter.
Except… it kind of was.
At one point during his service, his fellow Marines would give him $10 for a good joke, cementing his skills as a comedian and his future after the military.
Drew Carey benefited a lot from his time with the Marines. He reported that his service made him a stronger individual and better at problem-solving. He served for six years and left when he was a sergeant. Oorah!
6. Hugh Hefner
We know that military men are good at picking up chicks, but this is a whole different level. Famous Playboy founder Hugh Hefner served in the Army during World War II as an infantry clerk. He joined up right after his high school graduation in 1944 and was honorably discharged in 1946. We salute the late lady killer of the military.
7. Sunny Anderson
The Food Network has nothing on the Air Force! Food Network star Sunny Anderson loves food, but she may just love her country more. She joined the Air Force in 1993 and worked as a radio host. She was honorably discharged in 1997.
Sunny says that the Airforce allowed her to experience new foods from across the world, and this brought about her love of food. We can all relate to that last one!
8. Robin Quivers
Robin Quivers is a radio host best known for co-hosting The Howard Stern Show. However, what many people may not know about her is that she is one of many famous female Veterans who served in the Air Force.
She joined the Air Force in 1975 as a second lieutenant shortly after graduating from nursing school. Within three years, she had earned the rank of captain. After she was discharged, she remained an inactive member of the Air Force Reserve until 1990.
Actors & Actresses
9. Adam Driver
Adam Driver is one of the most prolific actors of late. We wonder which was harder for him: portraying the ultimate villain in recent Star Wars episodes or serving as a member of the Marine Corps? His story is like that of many young men his age. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, he enlisted.
Sadly for him, he suffered a non-combat injury early on. Though he tried to push past it and train through the pain, he was medically discharged after two years with no time served in the field.
More like this: Where Were You? A Veteran’s Reflection of 9/11 and the Aftermath
10. Jennifer Marshall
Jennifer Marshall has seen stranger things than most civilians, thanks to her time in the Navy. She enlisted when she was just 17 and served until the age of 22. While she was in the Navy, she earned a Navy/Marine Corps Achievement medal and was named Junior Sailor of the Quarter, along with several other honors.
11. Gene Wilder
So shines a good deed in a weary world.
Willy Wonka… er, Gene Wilder was drafted into the Army in 1956 and later assigned to the medical corps to work as a paramedic. In 1958, he was honorably discharged.
After years of making his chronically ill mother smile with his humor, he served the country by helping other people in need. Such a fitting way for him to spend his time in the military.
12. Morgan Freeman
The man who can put us all to sleep with his soothing voice also helped us sleep soundly at night thanks to his service in the military. Morgan Freeman actually turned down a scholarship to study drama in 1955 because he wanted to enlist in the Air Force.
At first, he worked as a radar technician, but he soon began training to become a pilot. However, he decided that flying wasn’t really his forte, and he received an honorable discharge in 1959.
13. Bea Arthur
She’s a golden girl for more reasons than one! Bea Arthur served as part of the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve from 1943 to 1945. In the Marine Corps, she was a truck driver. From a popular meme, she has been regarded as “one Hell of a Marine.”
14. Rob Riggle
You don’t necessarily think “bad*ss” when you think of Rob Riggle, but that might just be about to change. This actor served nine years of active duty as a part of the U.S. Marine Corps. He fought in places like Afghanistan, Albania, and Kosovo, and he’s proud of his status as a Marine.
15. Zulay Henao
Zulay Henao served in the U.S. Army for three years, and she says it helped her gain an incredible perspective on life. Though her basic training at Fort Bragg was tough, she adopted a new attitude in order to get through and serve her country.
Want to know more about women Veterans and how we can celebrate them? Check out our blog: Women Veterans Day Celebrates Strength, Sacrifice of Service Members.
There are many more famous Veterans that you probably didn’t know about. Honorable mentions include famous Vietnam Veterans John McCain, Pat Sajak, and Fred Smith, as well as famous Air Force Veterans Johnny Cash and Neil Armstrong (how fitting).
So, what did you think about our list of famous Veterans? Who shocked you the most? Drop a comment and let us know! Then, share this blog on VeteranLife’s Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, and see what your Veteran friends think!
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