Rachel Washburn once carried pompoms. Now she carries an M4 carbine.
The military brat who became an NFL cheerleader is today a first lieutenant in the United States Army.
On Sunday, she was to be honored as a Hometown Hero by the Philadelphia Eagles, the team she cheered for from 2007 to 2009.
The Bronze Star recipient served two tours of duty with the Army in Afghanistan, including one as a member of the Army’s new Cultural Support Program.
“I knew it was kind of a long shot with all those beautiful, talented women that try out every year,” she told USA Today. “I just thought, why not? Go big or go home.”
Washburn grew up a ‘military brat,’ and moved about 17 times throughout her childhood. Eagles spokesman Brett Strohsacker said Washburn considers Philadelphia home. Taking after her father, she’s served her country nobly acquiring honors and experiences to last a lifetime, including helping to deliver a baby in Afghanistan.
She joined the Army ROTC at Drexel, and went on a goodwill trip to Kuwait and Iraq with the Eagles. After graduating, she worked her way up to a 1st lieutenant. She’s now stationed in Fort Stewart, Ga. and has just returned from her second tour in Afghanistan. Washburn told USA Today she may reenlist and that her honors include: a Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Combat Action Badge, Airborne Badge, and Air Assault Badge.