Rachel Washburn, 25, has gone from cheering on the sidelines at the Linc to two tours in Afghanistan. For that remarkable journey, she was recognized as a 'hometown hero' at the Philadelphia Eagles' home game versus the Chicago Bears.
In her freshman year at Drexel University, Washburn decided on a whim to tryout for the Eagles cheerleading team. She made the squad and cheered for three seasons, from 2007 to 2009.
"I knew it was kind of a long shot with all those beautiful, talented women that try out every year," she told USA Today. "I just thought, why not? Go big or go home."
Washburn grew up a 'military brat,' and moved about 17 times throughout her childhood. Eagles spokesman Brett Strohsacker said Washburn considers Philadelphia home. Taking after her father, she's served her country nobly acquiring honors and experiences to last a lifetime, including helping to deliver a baby in Afghanistan.
She joined the Army ROTC at Drexel, and went on a goodwill trip to Kuwait and Iraq with the Eagles. After graduating, she worked her way up to a 1st lieutenant. She's now stationed in Fort Stewart, Ga. and has just returned from her second tour in Afghanistan. Washburn told USA Today she may reenlist and that her honors include: a Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Combat Action Badge, Airborne Badge, and Air Assault Badge.