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Whether we agree through it or not, younger sporting activities fans idolize expert athletes, virtually idolizing them together their heroes. Yet as we come to be adults, we realize the the real heroes space the ones who serve in the military, possibly risking their livelihoods – if not their resides – to protect our freedoms.

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But then, there room those select few athletes that were “heroes” in both areas: both offer in the armed forces, and also then walking on come have distinguished careers as a skilled athlete.

Here space 30 famed sports figures who also served in the United states Military.


Roger Staubach, U.S. Navy

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Prior to coming to be one of the many iconic football player both in the storied history of the Dallas Cowboys franchise and perhaps the NFL together a whole, i get it Staubach attended the U.S. Navy Academy wherein he won the 1963 Heisman Trophy, and also after graduation he served in the U.S. Navy.

That business included a one-year tour of duty in Vietnam. He served as a supply Corps officer because that the marine at the Chu Lai base/port, which to be a second air base giving relief because that Da Nang waiting Base.


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Jackie Robinson, U.S. Army

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From 1942 come 1944, Jackie Robinson served as a second lieutenant in the United claims Army. Unfortunately, his insignificant in the army was greatly known because of the problems he faced as a an outcome of segregation. Throughout boot camp at ft Hood, Texas, Robinson was arrested and court-martialed in 1944 because that refusing to provide up his seat and move to the earlier of a segregated bus.

Robinson’s wonderful reputation, merged with the initiatives of friends, the NAACP and also various black color newspapers, melted public light on the injustice. This occurrence would additionally be the precursor to his efforts to “break the color barrier” in expert baseball.


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Yogi Berra, U.S. Navy

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Like so plenty of Americans in the so late 1940’s, Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra was influenced to enlist in the united States armed forces after the assault on Pearl Harbor. He had actually actually signed v the new York Yankees in 1943 prior to serving in the United states Navy together a gunner’s friend in the Normandy landings during human being War II, wherein he earn a violet Heart.

Berra in reality manned a maker gun an installed on a round turret in a landing craft assistance boat, permitting other soldiers to storm the beach in the hallowed invasion.


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David Robinson, U.S. Navy

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“The Admiral” wasn’t a nickname bestowed top top David Robinson just due to the fact that it sound cool. Rather, Robinson chose to go to the United states Naval Academy, whereby he would go down as the greatest player in the school’s history.

But, as part of enrolling in ~ the school, that was potentially on the block because that serving energetic duty. Instead, Robinson was commissioned in the naval Reserve and also was only forced to offer an early stage active-duty responsibility of two years.


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Ted Williams, U.S. Maritime Corps

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Ted Williams’ exploits on the baseball diamond space legendary. However his work as a member of the marine Corps made the an American icon. In enhancement to serving in human being War II (after being drafted), Williams’ name was referred to as from a perform of inactive reserves to offer on energetic duty in the oriental War in 1952.

It to be there that he crash-landed his navy F9F Panther jet, which was damaged by anti-aircraft fire, and still controlled to walk away from the wreckage without far-reaching injury.

Pat Tillman, U.S. Army

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Perhaps the most popular NFL player to serve in the U.S. Military, Patrick Tillman gave up his successful NFL playing career for armed forces service. The previous Cardinals safety enlisted in the military Rangers through his brothers Kevin in 2002.

On Tillman’s second tour that duty, in Afghanistan, the was killed in a friendly fire incident. He was posthumously vested the silver Star and Purple Heart, among several other armed forces honors.

Nolan Ryan, U.S. Army

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Even Nolan Ryan, quickly one of the greatest pitchers in the background of significant League Baseball, offered his time in the military. Ryan in reality missed the 1967 season v the new York Mets early to organization with the army Reserve.

He was earlier in 1968 and also made it v his first full significant league season. That went on to have actually a hall of reputation career, in which he made eight All-Star teams, winner one World series and retired as MLB’s all-time strikeouts leader.

Roberto Clemente, marine Corps

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Hall of fame outfielder Roberto Clemente enlisted in the maritime Corps make reservation in the winter prior to the 1959 season, and served his six-month energetic duty commitment in ~ bases in south Carolina, phibìc Carolina and Washington, D.C.

The rigorous naval Corps training programs aided Clemente physically; he added strength by getting ten pounds and also said his ago troubles (caused by gift in a 1954 auto accident, see below) had disappeared.

Joe Louis, U.S. Army

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The fact that boxing great Joe Louis’s offered as a soldier during people War II is a telling tribute come his an individual character. That donated the purses from two fights — virtually $100,000 — come the Army and Navy relief societies in 1942.

However, establish Louis’s potential for increasing the spirit among the troops, the military placed him in its unique Services department rather than sending out him right into combat. Louis would go on a celebrity tourism with other notables, including fellow boxer Sugar ray Robinson.

Joe DiMaggio, U.S. Army

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Legendary hitter Joe DiMaggio the the brand-new York Yankees enlisted in the united States army Air pressures on February 17, 1943, and would increase to the location of sergeant. Stationed at Santa Ana, California, Hawaii, and also Atlantic City, brand-new Jersey, DiMaggio offered as a physical education and learning instructor. He to be released top top a clinical discharge in September 1945, due to chronic stomach ulcers.

Many people defined his insignificant in the military as being somewhat “cushy,” together he spent most of his armed forces career playing for baseball teams and in exhibition games against fellow significant Leaguers and minor organization players.

Jesse Ventura, navy SEAL

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Officially born as James George Janos, the guy we all understand as Jesse Venutra enlisted into the United says Navy and also joined the Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) after graduating from simple Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) school. Although Ventura never completed the extra 26 weeks of training to end up being a SEAL, the UDTs were damaged apart and merged with the SEAL teams after Vietnam.

Ventura cases that UDTs just refer to themselves as SEALs because of the restructuring. Regardless of his membership v Underwater Demolition Team 12, Ventura never saw combat during Vietnam although he did receive the Vietnam business Medal.

Mike Anderson, maritime Corps

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The man who lugged the “Mile High Salute” come the NFL, former Denver Broncos’ running earlier Mike Anderson spent four years in the U.S. Maritime Corps ~ graduating high school.

It was there that he was spotted together a potential soccer prospect. Anderson was play for the 11th Marines call football team as soon as he was offered the possibility to play in ~ Mt. San Jacinto small College, which brought about an possibility at the university of Utah, which offered him the credibility to eventually come to be a starting running back in the NFL.

Rocky Bleier, Army

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Best known for being the running mate (literally) for Pittsburgh Steelers’ running earlier Franco Harris, other running back Rocky Bleier has been drafted to the army in December the 1968 (which to be his rookie season), and sent come Vietnam in might 1969.

Bleier recovered native gunshot and also grenade injuries for which he received the purple Heart and also the copper Star, and returned come the Steelers after his service. After ending up being a starter in 1974, the went on come win 4 Super bowl rings with Pittsburgh.

Whitey Ford, Army

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Edward Charles “Whitey” Ford let go the 1951 and also 1952 periods while serving in the military during the oriental War. Once he went back to baseball, Ford would go on to end up being a ten-time MLB All-Star and also six-time World series champion.

In 1961, Ford won both the Cy Young Award and also World collection Most beneficial Player Award. That led the American organization in wins 3 times and also in earned run median twice. The Yankees retirement Ford’s uniform number 16 in his honor.

Ty Cobb, U.S. Army

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After setup single-season document for stolen bases with 96 method back in 1915, Tyrus Raymond Cobb enlisted in the chemistry Corps branch of the joined States military in October the 1918 and was sent to the allied Expeditionary pressures headquarters in Chaumont, France.

After being provided the rank of captain throughout his service, he served approximately 67 work overseas before receiving one honorable discharge and returning to the unified States

Willie Mays, U.S. Army

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Future room of reputation outfielder Willie Mays was drafted in 1952 to aid the unified States throughout the korean War (1950–53). He would subsequently miss most the the 1952 season and all of the 1953 season.

Mays spent lot of his time in the military playing baseball at ft Eustis, Virginia. It was at ft Eustis that Mays learned the basket catch from a other Fort Eustis outfielder, Al Fortunato. Mays missed about 266 games due to military service.

Bill Bradley, air Force

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Before he would end up being a two-time NBA Champion v the brand-new York Knicks, bill Bradley offered six months in the Air force Reserve. After ~ that quick military stint, he would certainly go on come play 10 seasons with the Knicks, building on his highly decorated collegiate basketball job while in ~ Princeton University.

In his post-playing days, Bradley has actually made his means into politics. He served three terms together a autonomous U.S. Senator from brand-new Jersey. He ran unsuccessfully for the autonomous Party’s nomination because that president in the 2000 election.

Jack Dempsey, U.S. Coast Guard

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Jack Dempsey very first started boxing professionally in 1914. Transparent the 1920’s and 1930’s the was exceptionally popular and also is probably one that the most famous boxing champions of every times. During human being War II Dempsey joined brand-new York State nationwide Guard and also was provided a commission as a an initial lieutenant.

He resigned that commission to accept a commission as a sublieutenant in the shore Guard Reserve. In 1945, he was on the attack transport USS Arthur Middleton for the intrusion of Okinawa, during people War II.

Rocky Marciano, Army

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Rocco Francis “Rocky” Marchegiano was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943, and also assigned to the 150th Combat Engineers. He was stationed in Wales wherein he was connected in operations on the English Channel. The 150th was awarded business stars for Normandy, phibìc France, Rheinland, Ardennes-Asace and central Europe.

It remained in the military that Marciano an initial boxed, starting with unofficialize bouts, and also working as much as junior amateur by the time of his discharge in 1947. After ~ failing a tryout because that catcher through the Chicago Cubs, baseball team, Marciano returned to boxing.

Phil Rizzuto, Navy

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Like so plenty of other major League Baseball players of the era, brand-new York Yankees’ great Phil Rizzuto spent three year in the service when the United claims entered human being War II.

It was there the he began playing baseball, in ~ the naval Training terminal in Norfolk, Virginia in between 1943 and also 1945. He went back to the Yankees because that the 1946 season.

Bill Sharman, U.S. Navy

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William Walton Sharman is mostly well-known for his time v the Boston Celtics in the 1950s, partnering through Bob Cousy in what some take into consideration the best backcourt duo of every time.

But after graduating from the college of southern California, Sharman served during human being War II from 1944 come 1946 in the united state Navy. After ~ his service, Sharman would become the very first North American sports figure to win a championship as a player, coach, and executive.

Tom Seaver, naval Corps

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One that the biggest reasons Tom Seaver became known as “Tom Terrific” through the new York Mets, in his own eyes, was since he served in the maritime reserves prior to embarking on a job that would enshrine that in Cooperstown.

During the Vietnam War, Seaver served an eight-year commitment, including three month of boots camp, three months of energetic duty at Camp Pendleton external of mountain Diego and 5½ year of reserve obligation. Seaver would say that finishing boots camp was among his many gratifying accomplishments, and gave that a great sense of proud to stay his army uniform.

Ken Norton Sr., maritime Corps

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Ken Norton Sr., the venerated boxer that once broke the jaw of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, was constantly a good athlete. The earned a football, basketball, and track scholarship to Northeast Missouri State College, and also it wasn’t until he enlisted in the naval Corps that Ken was presented to boxing.

In time, Norton came to be the ideal boxer to ever fight for the maritime Corps, whereby he came to be a corporal. Eventually, Norton to be inducted into the right into the naval Corps sports Hall the Fame.

Alejandro Villanueva, U.S. Army

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While Pittsburgh Steelers’ attack lineman Alejandro Villanueva might be a member that the black and also gold, he is also the member of another elite team: the U.S. Army Rangers. After ~ earning his Ranger tab at ft Benning in 2010 complying with graduation from the U.S. Army Academy at West Point, he served with the 75th Ranger Regiment, first Battalion and also did 3 combat tours to Afghanistan.

A second-generation armed forces man, Villanueva to be born on naval Air station Meridian in Meridian, Mississippi, come Ignacio Villanueva, a Spanish marine officer who worked for NATO.

Lee Trevino, maritime Corps

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In 1955, Lee Trevino was 2 years eliminated from dropping out of high school, and still a te away from playing in the PGA. In ~ the time, he to be slinging hotdogs and also Cokes at Knollwood Golf club in Irving, Texas.

And after being captured by a policeman for a petty theft, the officer advert Trevino come a recruiter for the naval Corps. In a 2009 interview v Golf Digest, Trevino stated the 4 years he invested in the Corps “was the best thing that ever happened come me.”

Chad Hennings, waiting Force

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Chad Hennings uncovered success both in the military and also on the gridiron, offered that he was in forty¬ 5 successful combat objectives flying A¬10 jets v the waiting Force, and also left the Air force one the the most decorated college football football player in NCAA history.

He won the Outland Trophy in his senior year of college in 1987, provided to the best lineman in university football, and after gift selected in the eleventh round of the 1988 NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys, he play in the national Football league from 1992 to 2000, winning 3 Super Bowls.

Leon Spinks, maritime Corps

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Olympic yellow Medalist Leon Spinks had actually dropped the end of high college after do it come the 10th grade, prior to joining the maritime Corps, in 1973. While he had actually originally clashed substantially with his instructors in the Marines, he eventually acquiesced to the discipline and also lifestyle needed, and would graduate from boot camp and also make the All-Marine boxing team.

Then, in the 1976 Olympic gamings in Montreal, Canada, Spinks winner a gold medal in the irradiate heavyweight division.

Arnold Palmer, US coast Guard

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Long before Arnold Palmer ended up being a family members name since of his exploits in golf (and eventually came to be the first millionaire in the history of the sport), he was a member the the U.S. Coastline Guard.

While attending Wake woodland University, he was distraught over his roommate dying in a car accident, and used the U.S. Shore Guard as a means to obtain away indigenous the situation. Palmer credits the coastline Guard because that making him an ext mature and far better able to do an affect on the world, in his own way.

Hank Greenberg, U.S. Military Air Corps

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Henry Benjamin Greenberg, well-known as “Hammerin” Hank Greenberg, to be a star slugger because that the Detroit tigers in the 1930’s and 1940’s, who at some point earned choice to the Baseball room of Fame.

But on October 16, 1940, just eight job after he and also the many tigers lost video game Seven the the World collection to the Cincinnati Reds, Hank registered for the draft, the first professional baseball player to do so. In all, Greenberg served 47 month in the organization during people War II, the longest tenure of any type of ballplayer.

Tom Landry, U.S. Military Air Corps

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Before his virtually three-decade career coaching the Dallas Cowboys, legend head coach Tom Landry served as a pilot in the U.S. Army Air pressure during human being War II.

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Piloting a B-17 flying Fortress, Landry frequently flew goals deep into foe territory and also frequently went back his aircraft with minimum fuel. Between 1944 and 1945, he distinguished himself by flying 30 combat goals over heavily defended targets. After his coaching career, he went back to flying basic aviation aircraft.