Elvis Presley and 9 others who are veterans of both Hollywood and the military.
While there are many celebrities who define public service as putting in two nightclub appearances in a single evening (we're looking at you, Brody Jenner), there are a few that recognize that there is a world bigger than product endorsements and tabloid covers. The men on this list are some of our favorite celebrity military veterans who have put our country's needs before their own.
For your selflessness, gentleman, YourTango salutes you.
1) Rob Riggle
Why would a man with the desire to be a comedian choose to join the Marines at only 19 years of age? Well, in his own words: "I chose the Marine Corps because I believed they offered the greatest challenge. I wanted to see if I had what it took to become a Marine." In fact, the former Daily Show correspondent credits his time in the military with giving him the mental strength to continue striving for his dream in spite of years of rejection. We sure are grateful he kept at it! Although he's made many people laugh with his work on Saturday Night Live and his roles in The Office and Arrested Development, Riggle takes his military work seriously. Besides completing missions in Liberia, Albania, Kosovo and Afghnistan, he was one of the first people to help clear the rubble at Ground Zero after the attacks on the World Trade Center. In his 20 years of service (and counting!) with the Marine Corps, he's earned many awards, such as the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. For his work on-camera, he has our attention, but for his work on the front lines, he has our respect and gratitude.
2) Mark Valley
Valley is a graduate of West Point, where he earned his degree in mathematics. He was a part of Operation Desert Storm in the Gulf War, and he was stationed in Berlin for almost five years. It was in Germany that someone finally noticed how attractive and charismatic Mark was. Soon, he was landing roles on E.R. and Boston Legal. Talent, looks, and strength? His Fringe co-star (and wife) Anna Torv is a lucky lady! How To Keep A Military Marriage Strong
3) Pat Tillman
Pat Tillman left fame and fortune as a Defensive Back for the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the U.S. Rangers in June of 2002. The rangers are considered to be one of the most elite forces in the military. He was both athletically and intellectually gifted—he graduated from Arizona State in three and a half years with a 3.84 GPA—and the armed forces recognized Tillman's talents by awarding him the Silver Star and the Purple Heart. Sadly, he was killed in Afghanistan via friendly fire on April 22, 2004 amidst controversial circumstances. The one thing that's clear is that Pat Tillman's bravery and altruistic beliefs are admirable. 5 Favorite Good-Guy Pro Athletes
4) Montel Williams
After he graduated high school, Montel Williams enlisted in the U.S. Marines in 1974. He was promoted to platoon guide during basic training, and soon made history as the first African American marine to complete and graduate from both the Academy Prep School and Annapolis. Williams would often counsel his platoon, and in 1988 he expanded his role as a counselor by conducting informal sessions for the families of the men he commanded. He earned three medals—the Navy Achievement Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Navy Commendation Medal—and achieved the rank of lieutenant before he left the navy
5) Alan Alda
Alda, whose birth name was Alphonso D'Abruzzo, joined the Army Reserve after he graduated from Fordham University. The actor/director/writer served as a gunnery officer for six months during the Korean War. Even after his time in the military was finished, Alda couldn't quite hang up his fatigues. He played Hawkeye Pierce on M*A*S*H, for which he won five Emmy Awards.
6) Jimmy Stewart
The It's A Wonderful Life star was a rarity in Hollywood for choosing to work as an independent actor at a time when the majority of stars were locked into studio contracts. Similarly, Jimmy Stewart showed a preference for unconventional paths in national service. He joined the U.S. Air Corps when his (lack of) stature prevented him from entering the Army. Once enlisted, it only took him four years to become a Colonel. He served in both World War II and Viet Nam, earning almost every Medal of Honor possible.
7) John McCain
Long before he became a Representative for Arizona in 1982 or a Senator for that state in 1986, and before his run for the White House made him a household name, McCain graduated from US Naval Academy and became a naval aviator. During his time in the navy, He survived a fire on the USS Forrestal. He also survived six years as a Prisoner of War of the North Vietnamese. If only every action that landed a celebrity in prison was for such a noble cause. 5 Sexiest Celebrity Jailbirds
8) Mel Brooks
Before making it big-time in movies, Mel Brooks was simply Melvin Kaminsky, a combat engineer for the United States Army. In 1943, at the age of 17, his job included working with explosives and defusing land minds. Even while his sense of duty inspired him to serve in the army, Mel still kept his renowned sense of humor. When he was off the clock, he would entertain his platoon with his imitations. In fact, perhaps seeing how much his fellow soldiers enjoyed his antics inspired him to pursue a career in comedy.
9) Elvis Presley
In 1958, at the height of his popularity, Elvis Presley joined the Third Armored Division of the military in Friedberg, Germany. Presley may have been The King as a musician, but as a private in the armed forces, he proved he was just like every other solder. He lived in standard accommodations and went through basic training. His dedication to his country was inspiring and impressive to many, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Presley and Powell would have made one heck of a high-powered bromance. 5 Coolest Celebrity Bromances
10) Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby served with the United States Navy during the Korean War. During that time, he worked at the Bethesda Naval Hospital. He cared for injured veterans, entertaining them with stand-up routines while he healed them, proving that sometimes laughter really is the best medicine.
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