Happy Veterans Day! Surprising Celebrities Who Were In The Military

November 11, 2013  |  
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With Veteran’s Day here, we figured what better way to celebrate the holiday than to thank those who have served and are currently serving? Though we don’t often think of it, plenty of our most loved celebrities are veterans, as we pointed out in our list on Memorial Day. Here are 14 more celebrities who were in the military and have done their rightful duty. Salute!

Tae Heckard

La’Shontae Heckard is native to Seoul, South Korea, but her family moved to Dallas, Texas when she was 5. Once Tae graduated from high school, she immediately joined the U.S. Army Reserves. She was activated post 9/11 and served four years of active duty in the Reserves. After this tour, Heckard made her way into the entertainment industry and has been met with plenty of success. Aside from acting and modeling, she has also appeared in several music videos for high profile musicians, including her new boo Nelly, Neyo, 50 Cent, and Mariah Carey. Plus, she’s got a cushy spot on “The Game.”

Mr. T

Long before Mr. T was known as Mr. T on the show A-Team, he was a member of the U.S. Army. Laurence Tureaud didn’t grow up in a wealthy family and didn’t take much interest in furthering his college education. After being expelled from Prarie View A&M University, Mr. T enlisted in the U.S. Army and served as a member of the Military Police Corps. During his time in the military, Mr. T was recognized numerous times. He was elected the Top Trainee of the Cycle and despite his success, he was eventually discharged. He then went on to become a bouncer and eventually an actor.


Sinbad, also known as David Adkins, didn’t have a clear path as to what he wanted to do in life, but he did know from an early age that he wanted to be famous. Lacking true direction, Sinbad joined the Air Force in 1979, a career choice that helped to give his life the direction and shape it needed. During his run in the Air Force, Sinbad made himself known by doing comedy shows for Tops in Blue. After leaving the military, he immediately went into the entertainment world and found plenty of success after appearing on Star Search, which landed him roles in A Different World and The Sinbad Show.

Sunny Anderson

Sunny Anderson isn’t your typical chef, especially when you explore her past. Before she ever become a star on the Food Network, Anderson was a part of the U.S. Air Force, which she enlisted in during 1993. During her time in the Air Force she worked in Seoul, South Korea as well as in San Antonio, Texas as a radio broadcaster. Anderson says that working as a radio broadcaster was one of her passions, as she loves music, but she knew she wasn’t going to stay in the military forever. Once she left the Air Force she dabbled as a radio personality and then debuted on Emeril Live, which bolstered her career in the food world.

Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman joined the Air Force after a strong love and desire to become a fighter pilot. Once he enlisted though, Freeman was given the job of a radar technician, which did not fulfill his dream of becoming a fighter pilot. However, after a year of enlistment, he was finally given the chance to train as a fighter pilot, but once he sat in the cockpit of a plane, his mind immediately changed as he felt he was “sitting in the nose of a bomb.” Freeman left the military in 1959 and for 20 years struggled to make himself known in the acting world. Today he’s one of the most widely recognized African American actors.

James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones is best known for his voice, eloquence, and skills on the screen. During his college years, Jones went to the University of Michigan and majored in pre-med but soon after switched to drama. During this time he also enrolled in ROTC and after graduating in 1955, he was recruited by the U.S. Army. During this time, the Korean War was in full-swing and Jones all but expected to be sent to war. He become a second lieutenant and eventually moved to rank as a first lieutenant, and thankfully his unit was never sent to war. Soon after Jones was discharged and was able to firmly plant his feet into the acting world.

Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson not only changed the face of sports, but he also made an impact in the military. Back in 1942, Robinson was drafted to take part in a segregated calvary unit based in Kansas. Robinson went through the Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Despite serving in the military, Robinson faced a slew of racism and was transferred out of his original unit, court martialed, and eventually removed. He went on to make a huge impact in the baseball world.

Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye and the military just didn’t mix. During 11th grade after living in an extremely unsettled home due to his love of secular music, Gaye dropped out of school and joined the Air Force. This decision didn’t give him the outcome he expected, as he wasn’t able to land his job as an airplane pilot and was instead stuck peeling potatoes and doing other mundane tasks. Gaye also had a huge issue with authority figures in the military and wasn’t able to take orders from them. To get out, he faked a mental illness and was honorably discharged. He soon went on to become a Motown legend.

Sugar Ray Robinson

Sugar Ray Robinson is widely referred to as one of the greatest American boxers of all time, so it comes as no surprise that this man also served in the U.S. Army. Robinson was inducted in February 1943 but his career only lasted 15 months. After disappearing from the barracks after falling down the steps, suffering from amnesia, and being sent to the hospital by a stranger, Robinson was soon after honorably discharged in 1944. Sadly, media coverage tried to brand him as a deserter, but despite his not-so-great reputation in the military, Robinson went on to become a highly successful boxer, winning 173 out of 200 fights in his lifetime.

Pat Sajak

Before Pat Sajak became a well-known face on television, he was very popular on the radio. During his high school and college years, Sajak had various jobs reading news over the radio. In 1968, he joined the U.S. and served in the Vietnam War, working as a disc jockey on the Armed Forced Radio. He left the Army in 1970 and went on to become a weatherman and was eventually given his own show. To our generation, he’s best known as one of the famous faces of Wheel of Fortune.

Clint Eastwood

Before being drafted into the Army, Clint Eastwood worked as a lumberjack, a forest fighter, as well as a steelworker. During the war in Korea, Eastwood was drafted and sent to Ft. Ord for basic training. He eventually become a swimming instructor and at night he worked as a bouncer. During his time in the military, Eastwood met several others who would go on to become famous actors, including Richard Long and Martin Milner. He was discharged in 1953 and went on to use his GI Bill to study drama. He soon went on to become a famed actor, especially after his “Dirty Harry” movies.

Sidney Poitier

Looking at the success he has had, not many people would believe that Sidney Poitier started out as a poor immigrant teen whose first job involved washing dishes. As a young teenager, Poitier left Nassau Bahamas and came to the U.S. without any money. During WWII he joined the Army after telling recruiters that he was 18, when he was actually 16. He served as a physiotherapist for about a year and went on to work for the American Negro Theater. Aside from being a veteran, Poitier has also earned the achievement of becoming the first male African American to win an Academy Award.

Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett is known for his voice, but before he became a singer, he was part of the U.S. Army during WWII. Bennett was drafted to join the Army in 1944 and was assigned to the 63rd Infantry Division which allowed him to serve in Germany as well as in France. After sticking up for an African American friend, Bennett was demoted and was given the assignment of digging up mass graves and prepping the bodies to be sent home. Though the military wasn’t the highlight of his life, Bennett did get the opportunity to sing with the military band and went on to study voice. In 1963 he recorded one of his most famous songs, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

Johnny Cash

When talking about Johnny Cash, very few people know that he is a military veteran. Back in July 1950, Cash enlisted in the Air Force and was assigned to the Security Service unit where he worked as a Morse Code Intercept Operator for the Soviet Army. While working in Germany, he created his first band. After four years, Cash was honorably discharged and returned back home to Texas. Just years later, Cash would release his first album and would soon gain popularity and fame.

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