These celebs all enlisted before becoming stars!
Taking an oath to protect and defend your country is one of the utmost acts of selflessness — and some celebrities have chosen to do just that. Quite a few famous faces have enlisted in the military on their path to fame, whether they served on the frontlines or behind-the-scenes.
From Adam Driver to Drew Carey, these stars have all spent time in uniform and devoted a part of their life to serving their country. No matter what branch of the military they chose to serve or what job they were assigned, we thank them for their service!
Find out which celebs spent time in the military…
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1. Adam Driver
Before he was Commander of the First Order in “Star Wars,” Adam Driver was a Marine. He joined shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and served for two years. Right before he was about to be deployed, he was in a mountain biking accident and was medically discharged, to his devastation.
“I joined…feeling like I think most people in the country did at the time, filled with a sense of patriotism and retribution and the desire to do something…I loved being a Marine. It’s one of the things I’m most proud of having done in my life,” Adam said.
Ice-T joined the Army after finishing high school in order to support his family and was then deployed to Hawaii. He served as a squad leader at Schofield Barracks as part of the 25th Infantry Division. He remained there for four years, including a stint in military jail for stealing a rug, and then returned to the civilian world to launch his entertainment career.
“I was like, you know what, I gotta do something responsible. I’m out here in these streets running around. What if I go to jail? So I went to the Army. I went down and I signed up,” Ice-T told Howard Stern.
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3. Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood served in the Army after being drafted during the Korean War. He trained at Fort Ord in California and eventually landed a job as a swimming instructor. During his service, he met several other actors and when he was discharged in 1953, he headed to L.A. City College to study drama.
4. Tom Selleck
Tom Selleck had already begun his acting career and signed a talent project with Twentieth Century Fox when he was drafted during the Vietnam War. He decided to join the California National Guard and served from 1967 to 1973. He even later appeared on California National Guard recruiting posters!
“I am a veteran, I’m proud of it. I was a sergeant in the U.S. Army infantry, National Guard, Vietnam era. We’re all brothers and sisters in that sense,” he told Military.com.
5. Hugh Hefner
Before founding Playboy, Hugh Hefner briefly served in the Army when he completed high school. He was an infantry clerk and was posted at both Camp Adair in Salem, Oregon, and Camp Pickett in Virginia. During his service, he was involved in Army publications and even contributed cartoons to Army newspapers. He was honorably discharged after two years.
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6. Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman loved war films growing up and was later inspired to join the Air Force. He served as a radar technician and was eventually given the opportunity to train as a fighter pilot. He quickly realized the position was not all that he had imagined and he didn’t have a desire to potentially hurt people in a war setting. He left the military after four years.
“I had this very clear epiphany. I thought, ‘You are not in love with this; you are in love with the idea of this.’ So off I went to Hollywood,” Morgan told AARP.
7. Chuck Norris
After finishing high school, Chuck Norris decided to join the Air Force, where he became an Air Policeman. He was sent to Osan Air Base in South Korea to begin his training, which he reportedly hoped to use to prepare for a career in law enforcement. Instead, it was there that he first pursued martial arts, which ended up changing his life. When he returned to the United States, he served at March Air Force Base in California, until he was honorably discharged after four years of service. Just a few years later, he became a martial arts champion.
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8. J.R. Martinez
“Dancing With The Stars” champion J.R. Martinez enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2002 and trained at Fort Benning, Georgia. A year later, he was deployed to Iraq and two months after his arrival, he was driving a Humvee when its left front tire hit an IED. The devastating accident burned more than 34 percent of his body and his recovery was strenuous. Despite the struggle, J.R. still says he is blessed.
“I’m being blessed in so many ways, and it’s because of the energy I’m putting out in the world…My life would not be what it is today: full of joy, happiness and positivity,” J.R. told People.
9. James Earl Jones
James Earl Jones decided to join the Army after graduating from college. He attended Officers Basic Course and became a second lieutenant, later attending Ranger School. Despite the ongoing Korean War, James and his unit were sent to construct a cold-weather training command in Colorado. He continued to focus on training and was eventually promoted to first lieutenant before being discharged.
10. Drew Carey
Drew Carey graduated from college and headed to the military, serving in the Marine Corps Reserves from 1980 to 1986. During that time, he began performing stand up comedy as a way to make more money and it ended up earning him some of his first acting roles. Now, Drew shows his support for the troops by touring overseas with the USO.
“I think if I did not have such a great break, I would still be in the military. I still wear my hair short and have the glasses. Also, I enjoyed the regimen and camaraderie. I knew that once I left the Reserves, I would give back to the military, so I teamed up with the USO,” Drew told Miltary.com.
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11. Bea Arthur
Before she was a “Golden Girl,” Bea Arthur is said to have been one of the first members of the Women’s Reserve. She served as a typist and truck driver while stationed at Marine Corps and Navy air stations in Virginia and North Carolina. During her two-year career, she was promoted from corporal to sergeant to staff sergeant. She was honorably discharged in September 1945 and went on to enroll in the Dramatic Workshop of the New School in New York.
12. Montel Williams
Montel Williams enlisted in the Marines right after graduating from high school. Within six months he received two meritorious promotions, and eventually headed to the Naval Academy Prep School. He was the first Black Marine to attend the school and became one of the only four graduates out of his class of 40 people. He earned a degree in engineering with minors in international security affairs and Mandarin Chinese. He later mastered Russian at the Defense Language Institute.
Although he says was shooting to be Admiral, he eventually found a love for motivational speaking. After speaking with over 50,000 kids at schools around the country, he formed Reach the American Dream, a non-profit foundation that offered assistance to young people in crisis. At that point Montel decided to resign his active-duty commission as a lieutenant commander and take on motivational speaking full time.
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