Vets who are famous, but not for their service

We are suckers for this kind of thing, even the annoying ones like this that make you click the Next button 15 times (ever wonder why that happens? Websites do that to inflate their page counts and dwell time statistics, to con their advertisers).

This website calls them “famous names have also answered the call to service,” they’re celebrities — mostly from the entertainment world — who are also veterans. As we said, we’re suckers for this — a good book on this theme is They Also Served, by Scott Baron, and it graces the (soon to be named) UW Reference Lubrary — but from this short feature we leaned a few things. Sure, everybody knows Julia Child served with the OSS (although most celebrity/gossip sites vastly inflate what it was she did). Once you learn that Steve McQueen was in the USMC, it’s not a shock to discover he spent time in the brig (and on the wrong side of the bars, not the side the Marine guards are on). But we didn’t know that Mel Brooks was in the Battle of the Bulge, or that James Earl Jones is a rare man with the self-confidence to admit he flunked Ranger school. (Not a surprise that he’s a veteran, of course; a very large percentage of men of his age are). There were two celebrities here whose vet status completely shocked  (and delighted) us. And one that’s such a celebrity that the name and the picture were entirely novel.

For those unwilling to click 15 times, click the “more” button for the whole list. (Not to pump our stats for our [nonexistent] advertisers, but as an experiment in keeping more, shorter items on the front page).

Alan Alda, Army

Sunny Anderson, Air Force

Tony Bennett, Army WWII

Mel Brooks, Army Corporal, WWII

Drew Carey, Marine Reserve

Julia Child, OSS, WWII

Bill Cosby, Navy

MC Hammer, Navy

James Earl Jones, Army officer

Kris Kristofferson, Army officer

Joe Louis, Army WWII

Steve McQueen, USMC

Chuck Norris, Air Force

Elvis Presley — Army

Montel Williams, Navy officer

One of the big surprises for us was rapper MC Hammer. Who expects a rapper to be a vet of anything but a correctional system? Mel Brooks was also a surprise, although most men of his generation served, so it makes sense. Likewise, it’s not unusual that James Earl Jones served, but his willingness to own up to quitting Ranger school is rare.

One other oddity is the sheer number of actors compared to musicians. Most of the musicians, like Kristofferson amd Presley, went on to be actors. Tony Bennett is the one pure

Some of these celebs were greatly helped in their careers by their time in the service. Cosby went through college on the GI Bill. Norris started studying martial arts while overseas as an Air Policeman in the Air Force. (He also lost a younger brother, Wieland, in Vietnam).