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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 Hollywood star was born with a Hollywood star. Many of them started out as soldiers, just like you. Many celebrities can attribute their hard work ethic and winning attitude to their experiences in the US military.

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

Maynard James Keenan

Maynard James Keenan in the US Army. Image Credit: Revolver

Even casual listeners might know that Maynard James Keenan, the vocalist for Tool and A Perfect Circle, is far from being a conformist.

When other bands in the 90s were going grunge with distorted guitars and dirty vocals, Keenan and Tool paved their own way, crafting complex, progressive, industrial metal with complex time signatures, soaring vocals and deeper lyricism–more akin to King Crimson than Nirvana.

But did you know that Maynard James Keenan was once a soldier taking orders in the Army? According to an interview with Revolver, Keenan initially joined the Army in 1983 after seeing Bill Murray’s classic performance in Stripes (1981). In the Army, Keenan was a natural, earning distinguished graduate awards for both basic and advanced training, earning him a spot at West Point Preparatory School. However, Keenan decided to go the civilian route after receiving a spot at West Point.

When asked of his opinion of the importance of the military, Keenan says, 

“[We] have to arm ourselves against our darker side. We have to understand that there are monsters, and we need to arm ourselves against the monsters, whether they’re our own monsters or someone else’s monsters. So I absolutely am in support of arming yourself or doing whatever we have to do to preserve our way of life.”

Wes Studi

Wes Studi accepts an Oscar at the 11th Annual Governors Awards in 2019. Wes Studi is the first ever Native American actor to receive an Oscar for acting. Image: Kevin Winter/Getty

Cherokee actor and Vietnam veteran Wes Studi is one-of-a-kind. Moving to Hollywood and starting his career in the early 1980s, there were extremely few actors of Native American descent. Studi saw this as an advantage. 

Studi enlisted in the Oklahoma National Guard at 17, undergoing combat training and advanced individual training at Fort Polk. Following his training, Studi volunteered for active service and went to Vietnam with the 3rd Battalion 39th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division. There, he toured for 12 months.

In his career spanning over 30 years, Wes has appeared in such classics as Dancing with Wolves, the Last of the Mohicans, and Geronimo: An American Legend. He even played the part of Sajat in Street Fighter (1994).

Shaggy

You already know Shaggy was rocking the “Chocolate Chip” Desert Battle dress in the 80s. Image: Wikimedia

Did you know that AFE Veteran, and Mr. Boombastic himself, Shaggy, was in the military?

After moving from Jamaica to New York at age 18, Shaggy joined the United States Marine Corps in 1988. Serving with the 10th Marine Regiment Field Artillery Battery in the Persian Gulf War, Shaggy honed and perfected his signature singing voice, and launched his music career following a return to the United States.

In 1993, he made it onto the charts with “Oh Carolina” from the album Pure Pleasure. He would go on to top the charts with club bangers such as “Boombastic”, “Angel”, and “It Wasn’t Me”. 

Shaggy has been sure to bring back his success to the troops, as a touring entertainer with Armed Forces Entertainment.

Check out our AFE Reggae playlist on Spotify featuring AFE Artists Shaggy, Eli Mac, Rebel Souljahz, and more.

Phil Labonte

Self-confessed contrarian and All That Remains lead vocalist Phillip Labonte only cares about that one thing: music that comes from the heart.

For All That Remains vocalist Phil Labonte, military service was a family tradition: his father is an Air Force veteran, both of his grandfathers had served in World War II, and his uncle had been in the military, too. Labonte, naturally, joined the Marine Corps in 1993.

After finishing basic training, he moved onto infantry school, before being honorably discharged due to a serious ankle injury.

Following his brief time in the Marines, he went on to reform his band Perpetual Doom, before joining Shadows Fall in 1995. In 2000, he formed the band All That Remains. Labonte’s key musical influences range from 80s core metal such as Iron Maiden, Metallica and Pantera, to harder death metal acts such as Carcass, Cannibal Corpse, and Grave. 

Although his time in military service was short, the discipline and development he received helped to form him into the successful vocalist and band leader he is today.

“Discipline is the most important thing for a serviceman” Labonte said in a 2011 Revolver interview, “It’s not about brainwashing and they don’t want robots. They want to make sure if you’re ever in a combat situation, more people will survive than die.”

Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood as a soldier. Image: Special Ops

Did you know that quintessential cowboy and film director Clint Eastwood was an Army veteran?

Before becoming one of the greatest Hollywood stars of all time, Eastwood was drafted into the Korean War in 1951, serving as an Army Swim Instructor at Fort Ord in California. 

As fate would have it, Eastwood once had to put his swimming skills to good use. Riding aboard a Navy Douglas AD-1 Sky Raider in the radar operator’s compartment, the plane’s oxygen, fuel, and navigation systems aboard the plane began to fail. The aircraft ran out of fuel and pilot Lt. Francis Coleman Anderson had no option but to ditch the aircraft into the Pacific, several miles away from Point Reyes.

Eastwood and Lt. Anderson both escaped the plane uninjured, but they were separated during the evacuation. Among the wreckage, Eastwood was able to recover a life raft and swim several miles through darkness toward a well-lit local radio station tower on shore. Anderson, who had drifted further north, was also recovered safely.

Clint Eastwood’s plane crash made front page news. Image: Independent Journal

Armed Forces Entertainment

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