12. Sergeant Leonard Nimoy, United States Army Reserve, 1953 – 1955
Before he put on the iconic Starfleet uniform and served on the USS Enterprise, the man who would later become known as Spock served in the United States Army Reserve for 18 months. Rising to the rank of Sergeant, Nimoy was part of the Army Special Services, where he entertained troops with various shows that he wrote, directed and starred in.
11. Staff Sergeant Johnny Cash, United States Air Force, 1950 – 1954
Before he was the Man in Black, Johnny Cash spent 4 years serving in the United States Air Force. Cash served in the 12th Radio Squadron Mobile of the U.S. Air Force Security Service at Landsberg, Germany as a Morse Code Intercept Operator for Soviet Army transmissions. Cash was the first western radio operator to hear the news that Joseph Stalin died.
10. Sergeant Drew Carey, United States Marine Corps, 1980 – 1986
Before Drew Carey became a staple in America’s TV watching schedule he served for six years in the Marine Corps. Carey says he still wears the same haircut and style of glasses that he was given in the Corps. “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,” he said during an interview.
9. Corporal Clint Eastwood Jr, United States Army, 1951 – 1953
Eastwood was drafted into the US Army in 1951. He managed to get a job as a swimming instructor and lifeguard at Fort Ord during the Korean War. While Eastwood never saw combat during the conflict, he did have one life threatening experience during his service. While Eastwood was returning to service after visiting his family during leave, he was flying on a Douglas AD torpedo bomber that experienced engine trouble near Port Reyes, California. The plane crashed into the ocean. Eastwood and the pilot of the aircraft had to swim a distance of nearly 3 miles to shore.
8. Staff Sergeant Bea Arthur, United States Marine Corps, 1943 – 1945
While the Marine Corps might seem an unlikely place for a future Golden Girl, Bea Arthur apparently served in the Corps for 30 months as a truck driver and typist. She was one of the initial recruits to the Women’s Reserve and rose the rank of Staff Sergeant during her World War II service.
7. Aviation Radioman Third Class Paul Newman, United States Navy, 1943 – 1946
Before he became one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood history, Paul Newman had dreams of becoming a Naval Aviator. When it was discovered that Newman was colorblind, he washed out of the Navy V-12 pilot training program. However, Newman was determined to fly and qualified as a radioman and aerial gunner. He was assigned to torpedo bomber and saw scattered combat throughout the Pacific Campaign. Newman had a close scrape with death in 1945. His bomber was grounded due his pilot having an ear infection. Just days later, Japanese kamikaze pilots killed most of the other members of their squadron. Newman earned his Aircrew Wings, Good Conduct Medal, the American Area Campaign Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal during his service.
6. Staff Sergeant Charlton Heston, United States Army Air Forces, 1944 – 1946
In 1944, Heston enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces. He served for two years as a radio operator and aerial gunner aboard a B-25 Mitchell stationed in the Alaskan Aleutian Islands with the 77th Bombardment Squadron of the Eleventh Air Force. He reached the rank of Staff Sergeant.
Heston married Northwestern University student Lydia Marie Clarke in the same year he joined the military. After his rise to fame, Heston narrated for highly classified military and Department of Energy instructional films, particularly relating to nuclear weapons, and “for six years Heston [held] the nation’s highest security clearance” or Q clearance.” The Q clearance is similar to a DoD or Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) clearance of Top Secret. (Wikipedia)
5. Lieutenant Colonel Rob Riggle, United States Marine Corps, 1990 – 2013
Before starring on Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, and in a string of recent blockbuster movies including The Hangover, The Other Guys, Let’s Be Cops, Dumb & Dumber To, 21 Jump Street, 22 Jump Street, The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, and Step Brothers he served for over two decades in the Marine Corps and Marine Reserves.
Riggle was a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and served in Liberia, Kosovo, Albania, and Afghanistan. He was a public affairs officer with the New York City Public Affairs unit and a recipient of the Combat Action Ribbon. Riggle joined the Marines in 1990 after getting his pilot’s license, intending to become a Naval Aviator, but left flight school in order to pursue his comedy career. He has referred to his military experiences on The Daily Show, often when acting as the show’s “Military Analyst”, publicly stating he could kill any other member of the show.
In August 2007, Riggle went to Iraq to report for The Daily Show as well as to entertain the troops under the purview of the USO.
On January 1, 2013 Riggle retired from the Marine Corps after 23 years of service. (Wikipedia)
4. Master Sergeant Bob Ross, United States Air Force, 1961 – 1981
It might be hard to imagine, but painting instructor Bob “Let’s Paint a Happy Tree Right Over Here” Ross was a “tough and mean” (his own words) sergeant in the Air Force for nearly two decades. Ross was the First Sergeant of the U.S. Air Force Clinic at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. The Alaskan scenery inspired his later paintings. Ross said that he had to yell so much in the Air Force that he decided he would never yell again after he retired from the military.
3. Sergeant First Class Jason Everman, United States Army 3rd Special Forces Group Airborne, 1994 – 2006
While many of the members of this list served in the military prior to becoming famous, Everman had already enjoyed some success as a musician before enlisting in the Army. Everman was an original member of both Nirvana and Sound Garden.
After joining the Army, Everman became an Army Ranger and eventually a Green Beret. He served in both the War in Afghanistan and the Iraq War. He is a recipient of the Combat Infantryman Badge. Everman continued his career as a military consultant after leaving the Army in 2006.
2. Major General Jimmy Stewart, United States Army Air Forces and United States Air Force Reserves, 1941 – 1968
Jimmy Stewart comes from a long line of veterans. Both of his grandfathers served in the American Civil War. When World War II broke out, Stewart did not hesitate to join and offer his service. Stewart ultimately became the commander of a bomber squadron and led several missions over German territory. Stewart was rated to fly the Convair B-36 Peacemaker, Boeing B-47 Stratojet and B-52 Stratofortress intercontinental bomber.
Stewart quickly rose through the ranks during and following the war and finished his career as a Brigadier General. President Ronald Reagan promoted him to the rank of Major General on the retiree list. Stewart was highly decorated for his World War II service and earned the following medals: Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, four Air Medals, Army Commendation Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the French Croix de Guerre with Palm.
1. Sergeant Elvis Presley, United States Army, 1958 – 1960
Perhaps the Army’s most famous recruit. On March 24, Presley was inducted into the U.S. Army as a private at Fort Chaffee, near Fort Smith, Arkansas. His arrival was a major media event. Hundreds of people descended on Presley as he stepped from the bus; photographers then accompanied him into the fort. Presley announced that he was looking forward to his military stint, saying he did not want to be treated any differently from anyone else: “The Army can do anything it wants with me.”
Soon after Presley commenced basic training at Fort Hood, Texas, he received a visit from Eddie Fadal, a businessman he had met on tour. According to Fadal, Presley had become convinced his career was finished—”He firmly believed that.” But then, during a two-week leave in early June, Presley recorded five songs in Nashville. (Wikipedia).
Presley met his wife Priscilla while stationed overseas in Germany.