20 Celebrities Who Served in the U.S. Military

by Glen Sebastian | Top Right Entertainment

When we think of “celebrities” these days, we often think of egotistical narcissists or attention whores.  But some of them have spent time in service to our nation in the armed forces. On Veterans Day let’s take a look at 20 of them, some of whom may come as a bit of a surprise.

(h/t Dave Jorgenson, Military.com)

U.S. Army

1. JAMES EARL JONES

04-jones

Served in: Korean War

Years of Service: 1953-1955

Internationally-famous as the voice of Darth Vader, among numerous acting roles,
Jones was promoted to  first lieutenant after the Korean War, and trained soldiers back in the States.

2. KRIS KRISTOFFERSON

05-kriskris

Served in: Cold War

Years of Service: 1961-1965

This Grammy Award-winning songwriter (“Me and Bobby McGee“) and actor (Star is Born,
Lone Star, Blade: Trinity
) got his start flying helicopters for the army in West Germany
and earned the rank of captain.

 3. MR. T

03-mr-t

Years of Service: 1976-(unknown)

Before erupting into the American consciousness with standout roles in TV’s The A-Team
and the smash hit Rocky III, Mr. T was an Army MP, and reportedly a beloved one at that.

4. MEL BROOKS

06-brooks

Served in: World War II 

Years of Service: 1944-1946

The famed comedian, writer, actor and producer of hilarious films (The Producers,
Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles
), Brooks had a deadly serious job on the front lines
of WWII as a combat engineer specializing in landmine deactivation.

5. “ICE-T”

02-ice-t

Served in: Cold War

Years of Service: 1979-1983

The rapper and actor Ice-T credits his time in the Army with his effort to turn his life around after
selling drugs in LA for nearly five years.

6. LEONARD NIMOY

07-nimoy

Years of Service: 1953-1955

Galactically famous as the incomparable “Mr. Spock” in the Star Trek TV series,
films, and remakes, Nimoy served in the Army reserves at Ft McPherson in Georgia,
earning the rank of Sergeant.

7. MICKEY ROONEY

Rooney

Served in: World War II 

Years of Service: 1944-1946

Known for his small stature (5′ 2″) and big heart, Rooney tried three times to enlist, initially
being rejected for his high blood pressure. When he was finally accepted in 1944, he left in
the middle of filming a movie, and began training in chemical warfare. (More details here).

8. CLINT EASTWOOD

07-eastwood

Served in: Korean War

Years of Service: 1951-1953

The brilliant actor (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Dirty Harry, In The Line of Fire) and
director (Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby), Eastwood was an Army swimming instructor
after being drafted during the Korean War.

U.S. Navy

9. JOHNNY CARSON

11-carson

Served in: World War II 

Years of Service: 1944-1946

The famed late night talk host served in WWII as an apprentice shipman. Although Carson
never saw direct combat, he did endure a gruesome job at one time – removing 20 dead sailors
from a damaged warship. According to Military.com, he kept up his men’s spirits up by performing
magic tricks for them.

10. HUMPHREY BOGART

10-bogart

Served in: World War I

Years of Service: 1918-1919

One of Hollywood’s brightest stars (Maltese Falcon, The Caine Mutiny, Casablanca), as a
young man Bogart spent the war on transport ships “ferrying troops between the U.S. and
Europe,” which may remind some fans of his iconic role as a WWI ship captain in the
classic film The African Queen.

11. PAUL NEWMAN

09-newman

Served in: World War II 

Years of Service: 1943-1945

The incomparable actor (Cool Hand Luke, The Color of Money) who lives on through his
non-profit (Newman’s Own), Newman saw a lot of action in the skies over WWII Europe.
He wanted to be a pilot, but the man later famous for his baby blue eyes was rejected because
he was colorblind. So he served as a radioman and gunner for the Navy instead.

U.S. Air Force

12. CHUCK NORRIS

12-norris

Served in: Cold War

Years of Service: 1958-1962

The famous martial artist/actor/subject of endless internet memes, Norris spent the Cold War
in South Korea as an Air Policeman, where he first developed his love for martial arts.
He looks as imposing above as he later was in the ring.

13. MORGAN FREEMAN

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Years served: 1955-1959

Famed actor (Driving Miss Daisy, Shawshank Redemption, Bruce Almighty) Freeman was
an Automatic Tracking Radar Repairman before earning the rank of Airman First Class.

14. CHARLTON HESTON

15-heston

Served in: World War II 

Years of Service: 1944-1946

The man who would later own the box office with smash hits like Ben-Hur and
The Ten Commandments, Heston served as a aerial gunner and radio operator on a
B-25 Mitchell in the Pacific theater.

15. WILLIE NELSON

16-nelson

Served in: Korean War

Years of Service: 1951

The music star and (in)famous pothead Nelson volunteered, hoping to become a jet pilot, but
“years of bailing hay” on his hometown farm left Willie with a bad back, and he was discharged
after 9 months.

16. JOHNNY CASH

14-cash

Served in: Korean War

Years of Service: 1950-1954

After enlisting in the Air Force, Cash was found to have an incredible ability in deciphering Morse Code,
perhaps because of his rhythm and musical talents.  Cash rose to the rank of Staff Sargeant and was
put in a prominent role listening in on Soviet communications at the height of the Cold War.

U.S. Marines

17. MONTEL WILLIAMS

08-montel

Served in: (Various)

Years served: 1974-1996

The long-serving Lieutenant Williams was the first black enlisted Marine to complete
and graduate
from both the Academy Prep School and the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis.
Most recently, Williams devoted a great deal of his time and resources supporting the family
of fellow Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmoreesi, who was held in a Mexican jail for 214 days before
his release last week. Williams also testified before Congress on this miscarriage of justice.

18. DREW CAREY

carey

Served in: Cold War

Years served: 1980-1986

Carey served in the in the Marine reserves for six years, and in his spare time performed
stand up and worked as a waiter.

19. “SHAGGY” (Orville Burrell)

18-shaggy

Served in: The Gulf War

Years served: 1988 -1992

Now a popular reggae artist, Shaggy was a field artillery cannon crew member in Desert Storm.
Raised in a dangerous inner city neighborhood, Shaggy described his decision to join the
Marines::  “It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out, when you see all your friends getting either
locked up or shot.”

20. GENE HACKMAN

19-hackman

Served in: Cold War

Years served: 1947-1949

Enlisting as an underaged 16-year-old, the legendary Oscar-winning actor (French Connection,
The Conversation, Superman, Unforgiven
), Hackman joined the Marines as a field radio
operator in China.


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