By Debbie Gregory.
These celebrities are famous, and they’ve gone on to great things. But they all have one thing in common: they served in the U.S. military. Some of them made use of military education benefits to further their careers. Others used their experiences in uniform as the springboard for a life in the spotlight.
Most people know that Elvis Presley served in the United States Army. Drafted by the U.S. Army just as he was experiencing his meteoric rise to stardom, Presley didn’t shirk from his duty and found himself trading in his leather jacket for combat fatigues. He entered the Army as a regular GI at Ft. Chaffee in 1958. As his famously hair style was shaved down to regulation length, he cracked, “Hair today, gone tomorrow.” His induction was a major event, with hundreds of fans present, as well as media coverage.
After dropping out of high school in 1954, George Carlin joined the Air Force to use the GI Bill to cover the costs of broadcasting school. He was trained as a radar technician, and was stationed in Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City, Louisiana. He once said, “Obviously I’m against militaries, because of what militaries do. In many ways though, the Air Force was unmilitary-like. They dropped bombs on people, but…they had a golf course.”
After drifting from job to job, Steve McQueen joined the Marines in 1947. He was promoted and demoted seven times. After a stint in the brig, McQueen cleaned up his act. After a disastrous training exercise in the Arctic, several of his unit’s tanks and their crews were thrown into the water. Many drowned immediately, unable to get out of their tanks, but McQueen jumped in and saved the lives of five men.
Drew Carey left Kent State University in 1980, and enlisted into the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Comedian Mel Brooks served during WWII. He was a corporal and combat engineer who diffused land mines. Singer Tony Bennett was drafted at the end of WWII. Jimi Hendrix was stationed at Fort Campbell during his stint. Clark Gable served in the Air Force, as did Morgan Freeman, Johnny Cash, and Chuck Norris. Humphrey Bogart, Johnny Carson, Bob Barker and Henry Fonda all served in the Navy. Also having served in uniform were Clint Eastwood, Hugh Hefner, Ice T, Mr. T, Mickey Rooney, and Alan Alda.
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Celebrity Veterans: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory