Rachel Washburn used to be an Eagles cheerleader but decided to trade her pompoms and cheerleading career for an M4 carbine and some army action. The 25-year-old cheerleader-turned-first-lieutenant was honored on Sunday by the Philadelphia Eagles for whom she was a cheerleader between 2007-2009.
Washburn already has a pretty impressive track record, having received a Bronze Star for serving not one, but two tours of duty with U.S. forces in Afghanistan. During her tours, she endured a lot of the stresses and hardships of war as she went on covert missions to assist Afghan woman and children.
The ex-Eagles cheerleader told the Philadelphia Eagles website: “We could be their voice during missions for engagement to ensure security on objectives, and we could help search and secure the females and the children during missions.”
So why did Rachel decide to throw in the cheerleading in favor of the military? Her father, Lon, also has a pretty auspicious record as he served in the Army, and was a pilot in the U.S Air Force.
Nevertheless, she remembers fondly her time as an Eagles cheerleader as she told the website: “We’re all beautiful women who are there to be entertaining at games, but also, we are incredibly involved in the community, which is something that I am incredibly proud of.”
Even though Rachel Washburn wasn’t born or bought up in Philadelphia, she said she fell in love with it during her many visits there. When she reached the Army she was as motivated as she had been in her cheerleading days, and on her second tour led a platoon of an intelligence unit.
Her father who nominated Rachel for the Eagles cheerleader honor said about his daughter:
“I watched her go through two tours in Afghanistan and all of the things that she sacrificed. It was not a very easy couple of tours and I just really kind of thought, ‘Man, what a homecoming that would be if (the Eagles) recognized her for that.’ “