On Veterans Day, we honor all the brave men and women who served our country, and we also look at a few celebrities who served our country before becoming famous.
1. Morgan Freeman – United States Air Force
Morgan Freeman was so in love with his dream of flying that he turned down a scholarship to major in drama at Jackson State University so he could, instead, enlist in the United States Air Force in 1955. During his service, he worked as a radar technician but eventually landed an opportunity to train as a fighter pilot. Turns out, it wasn’t all he hoped it would be.
Freeman felt like he was “sitting in the nose of a bomb,” he said in an interview with AARP magazine. “I had this very clear epiphany…You are not in love with this; you are in love with the idea of this.”
In 1959, Freeman left the Air Force and turned to acting.
2. Shaggy – United States Marines
In 1988, Shaggy (born Orville Richard Burrell) joined the U.S. Marines after reportedly wanting to leave his job at Baskin Robbins. During his service, he earned the rank of lance corporal and served in the Persian Gulf War.
While on active duty, he recorded his track, “Oh Carolina,” which landed him a multi-million dollar contract with Virgin Records after he left the military.
3. Ice-T – United States Army
Ice-T (born Tracy Marrow) wanted to earn enough money to support his girlfriend and their child. So, he enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduating high school in 1979. He spent four years in the 25th Infantry Division in Honolulu where he served as a squad leader before starting his rap career.
4. Mr. T – United States Army
Mr. T (born as Laurence Tureaud) served in the U.S. Army’s Military Police Corps in the mid-70s where he served as squad leader.
Once discharged, he tried out for the NFL’s Green Bay Packers but didn’t make the team due to a knee injury. He ended up working as a bouncer at various Chicago nightclubs. During this time, he developed his “Mr. T” persona after he began collecting and wearing discarded jewelry he found at the clubs. Mr. T’s persona would eventually land him work outside of the nightlife and on the big screen.
5. MC Hammer – United States Navy
MC Hammer (born Stanley Kirk Burrell) enlisted in the U.S. Navy in the early 1980s. He served in the U.S. Navy for three years as a petty officer third-class aviation storekeeper before trading in his uniform for his iconic parachute pants.
6. Sherman Hemsley – United States Air Force
Sherman Hemsley enlisted in the United States Air Force after dropping out of high school in the 10th grade. He left the military after four years of service to pursue a career in the arts.
He returned to his hometown in Philadelphia and attended the Academy of Dramatic Arts at night while working for the United States Postal Service during the day. He soon moved to New York, continuing to work for the Post Office during the day while working as an actor at night.
7. John Amos – Army National Guard
Before becoming the stern-face head of the house on Good Times, John Amos served in the Army National Guard under the Armored Division of the New Jersey National Guard.
8. Nate Dogg – United States Marines
Before joining 213 alongside Snoop Dogg and Warren G, the late rapper Nate Dogg (born Nathaniel Hale) joined the U.S. Marines after graduating high school in 1987. He served as a munitions specialist at Camp Henoko in Okinawa, Japan for four years.
9. Robin Quivers – United States Air Force
Prior to co-hosting the “The Howard Stern Show,” Robin Quivers served as a captain in the U.S. Air Force. After graduating from The University of Maryland, she joined the military as a second lieutenant. In 1978, she was discharged as a captain. After joining “The Howard Stern Show” in 1981, She continued serving as a reserve in the Air Force for nine years.
10. Harriet Tubman – Union Army
Harriet Tubman not only led slaves to freedom but she was a military leader and Union spy during the Civil War, according to National Geographic.
In 1863 along with Colonel James Montgomery, Tubman led a group of soldiers to free slaves from plantations along the Combahee River in South Carolina. She was noted as the only woman in U.S. history to lead such a raid. During her military service, she also worked as a spy and recruiter for the Union Army. In 1899, Tubman received compensation for her service with the military.