23 October 2020
Celebrities You Didn’t Know Were in the Armed Forces

In celebration of the people who serve and protect our country, here is a list of celebrities you may not know served in the military.

Not every celebrity was born and raised in Hollywood. In fact, a lot of them were soldiers, just like you. Many attribute the hard work ethic and never-give-up attitude to their service and the experiences gained during that time.

Here are some famous people you may not know are proud US veterans…

Adam Driver

Yes, that’s right, Kylo Ren was a United States Marine. Driver enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, shortly after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. His assignment was Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines as an 81mm mortar man, operating out of Camp Pendleton.

Driver would serve for two years and eight months before fracturing his sternum while mountain biking. He was medically discharged at the rank of Lance Corporal. In his TED Talk, he addresses the complex transition from Marine to Civilian, and dealing with heartbreak and regret of medical discharge.

Adam Driver meets with Airborne troops in 2017.

Driver’s non-profit, Arts In the Armed Forces, started in 2006, supports active-duty service members and veterans around the world with fine arts programming, free of charge.

Rob Riggle

Rob Riggle attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel during his exemplary 23 year career. Image: Wikimedia

Did you know that certified funnyman Rob Riggle was a Marine for over 23 years? Riggle spent 9 years as an active-duty Marine, and 14 years in the Reserves.

As a cast member on Saturday Night Live, a correspondent on The Daily Show, and has graced his presence in iconic films such as The Hangover, 21 Jump Street series, and Step Brothers, Riggle’s career has gained him global success.

Rob Riggle Poses with fellow troops in 2018. Image Credit: Kansas University

But a select few get to call him a fellow Marine. In fact, he was still part of the Marine Reserve, even when his career took flight. He has served in tours of Liberia, Kosovo, Albania, and Afghanistan, as well as offering his comedic chops on several USO stops.

No Malice (Clipse)

Before No Malice’s rap career with his brother, Pusha T, took off, No Malice joined the military to support his pregnant fiancé and build a better life for his family.

Enlisting in the Army in 1992, the elder half of the Clipse would complete basic training in Ft. Dix, which was followed by AIT in Ft. Belvoir. He would go on to serve the rest of his military career at Ft. Bragg and Fort Jackson, completing more than two years of service before being honorably discharged.

No Malice was featured on Kanye West’s track Use this Gospel alongside his brother Pusha T and virtuoso saxophonist Kenny G.

Elvis Presley

Elvis poses outside a military base in West Germany. Image: Wikimedia

Did you know that the 1950s King of Rock was drafted into the Korean War in 1957? Well aware of his star power, the Pentagon actually offered Presley a position in the Special Service where he would have received star treatment. But the King was no poser: he joined the US Army as a regular Private, even giving up his signature pompadour hairstyle.

Following his training at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas, Presley was assigned to the 1st Medium Tank Battalion, 32nd Armor, 3rd Armored Division in Friedberg, West Germany, where he operated as a truck driver. He would later go on to attain the rank of Sergeant.

Even Elvis went through the “Underwear Olympics” at MEPS.

Morgan Freeman

The man with the golden voice, Morgan Freeman’s career has lent his signature touch to classics such as Shawshank Redemption, to the Dark Knight Trilogy, to the Lego Movie. But did you know that he was also in the Air Force?

He actually turned down a drama scholarship in 1955 to pursue his dream of becoming an Air Force fighter pilot. However, during his flight training, Freeman ultimately determined that flying with heavy explosives wasn’t his cup of tea.

Morgan Freeman in 1955

He would go on to serve four years as an Automated Tracking Radar Repairman, attaining the rank of Airman 1st Class.

Chuck Norris

Has anybody ever been this cool since this picture was taken?

Chuck Norris joined the United States Air Force in 1958, serving as an Air Policeman in South Korea. Inspired by the local culture, Norris studied the martial arts of Tang Soo Do and Taekwondo, and actually became the first Westerner ever to be awarded an eighth-degree black belt in Taekwondo. Following his military career, Chuck Norris would go on to open a successful martial arts empire.

In his film debut, Chuck Norris faced off against the legendary Bruce Lee in the 1973 film Return of the Dragon.


As a dominating figure in 90s rap, Ice-T got his claim to fame through his cautionary tales of street violence, so it may come as a surprise that Ice-T was actually in the Army.

Although his original plans were to become an Army Ranger, the West Coast rapper would pivot to become a paratrooper. He completed his basic training at Fort Leonardwood, followed by AIT in Fort Benning.

Since 2000, Ice-T has portrayed NYPD Sergeant Odafin Tutuola on the NBC police drama Law & Order: SVU, and has made countless pop-culture cameos including on Rick and Morty.

Airborne-certified at the time of his honorable discharge, Ice-T served a total of four years in the army, and found success in his civilian life telling stories with a camera and a microphone.

Bob Ross

Before he was teaching the world to paint “happy little trees”, Bob Ross was a 20-year veteran in the US Air Force, who rose to the rank of Master Sergeant. Although Sgt. Ross used to yell at people to “clean latrines” and “make their beds”, at his core, it was his patient, caring demeanor, and focused work ethic which led him to touch millions of lives in his retirement years as the host of The Joy of Painting.

Underneath that curly fro, Bob Ross was just your typical 1960s Airman.

In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel, Bob recalled: “I don’t intimidate anyone. Instead, I try to get people to believe in themselves. I tell people, “You can do this.’ And they write back and say, ‘You were right. I can do this. And now I believe I can do anything.”

Rest in peace, Bob Ross.

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