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Festina Lente
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From 2007-2010, Eagles cheerleader Rachel Washburn stood on the Eagles sidelines watching all of the different battles play out between the white lines at Lincoln Financial Field. Just a few years later, Rachel was no longer standing outside the lines. She had traded in her midnight green Vera Wang-designed cheerleader uniform for army fatigues. Rachel left Philadelphia to serve in Afghanistan as a member of the United States Army. Tonight, 1st Lt. Rachel Washburn will return to Lincoln Financial Field and be honored as the Eagles “Hometown Hero.”

Rachel’s story can be traced back to her father, Lon, a military man through and through. Having spent time as a pilot in the Army and Air Force, Lon says that he has moved 17 different times since joining the military out of high school. At least a dozen of those times came after Rachel’s birth. Even with having to move around so often, Rachel gained a level of respect for her father’s career.

“I’m from a little bit of everywhere,” Rachel said. “I definitely didn’t mind the military lifestyle as far as moving. I always thought that my dad had a pretty cool job and that certainly helped push me in that direction.”

When it came time for Rachel to start looking at colleges, it became clear that she had one city on her mind. Rachel wanted to be in Philadelphia, even though she had never lived there. Drexel University was her number one choice.

1st Lt. Rachel Washburn

“She really, really wanted to live in Philadelphia,” Lon said. “She’s a serious history buff. She had visited there and had done some other things with her high school class out in the eastern Pennsylvania area, so she applied for the ROTC scholarship, and she ended up getting quite a lucrative scholarship.”

Lon admitted trying to talking Rachel out of it – not the military, just the branch of service.

“She had an offer for an Air Force ROTC scholarship at Ohio State, and I thought she’d go to the Air Force, but you can tell by the job that she did in the Army that she is pretty ambitious and doesn’t like mainstream stuff,” Lon said. “The challenge of being able to do the things in the Army that she couldn’t have done in the other branches or in civilian life is really what intrigued her.”

“I thought, ‘Oh, I like camping and I like athletic things,’” Rachel said. “With that very naïve outlook of what ROTC was, I went ahead and applied for the scholarship, received it and it turned out to be one of the best decisions that I had ever made.”

Growing up, Rachel had been a gymnast, and after arriving at Drexel in 2006, she decided to join the dance team. Hearing that one of her friends had become a 76ers cheerleader, Rachel decided to take a stab at the “big leagues.” She tried out for the Eagles Cheerleaders squad, despite having never taken a cheer lesson in her life.

Rachel served as an Eagles cheerleader throughout her time at Drexel. While on the squad, she spent time visiting VA hospitals around the Philadelphia area and was also able to travel to Iraq on a USO tour, something that she called one of the greatest honors of her life. According to Rachel, trips like these demonstrate how much more goes into being a cheerleader than the casual fan realizes.

“That’s something that I always try to verbalize because the women I worked with at the Eagles were some of the most talented and most intelligent people that I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing,” said Rachel. “We’re all beautiful women who are there to be entertaining at games, but also, we are incredibly involved in the community, which is something that I am incredibly proud of, and I’m sure that all of the other girls feel the same way. I’m really proud of the Eagles organization putting us out there in that sort of capacity.”

After graduation, Rachel soon became a member of the Army’s Cultural Support team. It was a new operation that suited her perfectly.

“The Cultural Support Team was an initiative created by the military to fulfill a tactical gap in Afghanistan, given the cultural restrictions,” Rachel explained. “The Special Operations operators are not able to engage the female population, so they recruited females in the military to fill that gap. We could be their voice during missions for engagement to ensure security on objectives, and we could help search and secure the females and the children during missions.”

Since joining the military out of college, Rachel has had a highly decorated career. At the age of 25, she has already been awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal and the Combat, Airborne and Air Assault Badges. She also helped deliver a baby during a snow storm, taking instructions from military medics via radio.

Though many other military members were surprised to find out that Rachel had been a cheerleader, she explained that her time spent as a cheerleader helped her out a great amount during her Army training.

“I remember my first game incredibly vividly,” Rachel said. “When I was going through the Cultural Support Team training, we had to do mental toughness training every couple of days. One of the things that they taught us was how to kind tune into your happy place to remain mentally calm in stressful situations. My happy place just so happened to be what I remember my first game being like. We lined up in the end zones for the pre-game dance, and I just remember it being a beautiful August day, so that memory has always stuck with me, and of course the trip to Iraq was one of the greatest honors of my life, and I think back on it fondly often.”

That feeling of admiration that Rachel has for the Eagles has also been reciprocated by the organization.

“Rachel really is the epitome of an American hero, which is why we are looking forward to Sunday night’s game when we will have the opportunity to acknowledge her bravery and thank her for the sacrifices she has made to serve and protect,” said Barbara Zaun, the Eagles’ director of cheerleading. “It will be very special for me to see her honored as our Hometown Hero after working so closely with her during her time as a cheerleader.”

After two tours of duty in Afghanistan, Rachel is now stationed in Fort Stewart, Ga., serving as a platoon leader. Rachel was nominated by her father for the “Hometown Hero” honor.

“I thought it was a really interesting story because she was a cheerleader, and as a cheerleader she had a sense of duty to reach out to the VA hospitals and the military bases and do the USO tour, all of the stuff associated with the military,” said Lon, who admitted the two tours were the most difficult times of his life as a father. “I watched her go through two tours in Afghanistan and all of the things that she sacrificed. It was not a very easy couple of tours and I just really kind of thought, ’Man, what a homecoming that would be if they recognized her for that.’

“All of my kids are extremely talented and I’m so proud of them, but there’s something about Rachel that we noticed from an early age. She always just kind of had a restlessness about her, that there was something else to do. She would wake up in the morning and she would have a plan, and she always had to be doing something. There’s something about her nature, and people who have gotten to know her pretty well will attest to that. She’s very much a driven person, and I think she’s driven by virtue, and I don’t know if I can put my finger on what that is, but she has an extremely good heart and an extremely strong ambition to do what’s right.”

Rachel was not born in Philadelphia. She chose to make this city her home. She committed herself to the Eagles and then to her country. Tonight’s “Hometown Hero” celebration will allow Rachel to know that the Eagles and the City of Philadelphia truly recognize and appreciate her as one of their own.

“The hometown part was really interesting, because she’s kind of from everywhere, but she calls Philadelphia her home, and she chose Philadelphia to call home,” her father said. “Even on her military paperwork and whenever people ask her where she’s from, she says the same thing every time. She says ‘I’m kind of a military brat and I’ve lived all over, but I call Philadelphia home.’”

“I’m incredibly excited and humbled by it,” Rachel explained. “I always thought that was such a wonderful thing that the Eagles did – that every game they chose somebody to showcase what they had done for every single person in that stadium.

“I’m so honored because I call Philadelphia home, I love the Eagles so much and I’m just excited to be home in Philadelphia and watch the Eagles win.”

http://www.philadelphiaeagles....44-8bdf-dc4f145641d8



NRA Life Member - "Fear God and Dreadnaught"
 
Posts: 3714 | Location: in the red zone of the blue state, CT | Registered: October 15, 2008Report This Post
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Every now and then we get stories as this that give hope for our Country. I think our problem is that the losers are so much more vocal the good get drowned out. Thanks for posting.


You've got to know what to do when you don't know what to do.
 
Posts: 124 | Location: SML-VA | Registered: November 29, 2013Report This Post
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Nice, but in the end Afghanistan will go down the shitter when we leave - lots of lives and money wasted.


- Rhino
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Posts: 24038 | Location: FL | Registered: July 12, 2008Report This Post
The Ayatollah of Rock 'n' Rollah
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+1 for a hometown girl.

-Tom


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"For the cause that lacks assistance/The wrong that needs resistance/For the Future in the distance/And the Good that I can do" - George Linnaeus Banks, "What I Live for"
 
Posts: 9601 | Location: Boyertown, PA USA | Registered: July 17, 2002Report This Post
hello darkness
my old friend
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Good on her and her family for their service.
 
Posts: 3162 | Location: Riverton , Utah | Registered: June 19, 2007Report This Post
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That was a good read. Thanks for posting it.




 
Posts: 2145 | Location: Arkansas | Registered: September 04, 2008Report This Post
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Good on 'er
 
Posts: 3843 | Location: NW OHIO | Registered: May 29, 2006Report This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by RHINOWSO:
Nice, but in the end Afghanistan will go down the shitter when we leave - lots of lives and money wasted.


I think everybody here knows that.

It's also entirely irrelevant to the point.


I've been studying military history my entire life, since I've literally been old enough to read. I've read that people on the battlefield don't fight for 'their country,' or 'the political cause,' or even 'for freedom.'

They fight for their comrades; the men and women sharing the danger, the bullets, their foxholes, Humvees, mess tents, etc. They fight for each other.

Good on her. We need more like her.



No arsenal is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.
Ronald Reagan
 
Posts: 15379 | Location: Hobbiton, The Shire, Middle Earth | Registered: September 27, 2004Report This Post
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I saw that on Yahoo news. What a great story.


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Posts: 2673 | Location: OK | Registered: August 15, 2009Report This Post
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Hound Dog you are correct in my case and most I know along with a belief as corny as it may sound but that we could make a difference in an otherwise fouled up mess.

The dust was flying in the house today and I got some in my eye when I read this story.
 
Posts: 1870 | Location: Milford California Population 72 | Registered: December 24, 2008Report This Post
Go ahead punk, make my day
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quote:
Originally posted by Hound Dog:
quote:
Originally posted by RHINOWSO:
Nice, but in the end Afghanistan will go down the shitter when we leave - lots of lives and money wasted.


I think everybody here knows that.

It's also entirely irrelevant to the point.


I've been studying military history my entire life, since I've literally been old enough to read. I've read that people on the battlefield don't fight for 'their country,' or 'the political cause,' or even 'for freedom.'

They fight for their comrades; the men and women sharing the danger, the bullets, their foxholes, Humvees, mess tents, etc. They fight for each other.
I know what people fight for my man. I've been there, done that in my own way.

I respect her contribution and service.


- Rhino
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Posts: 24038 | Location: FL | Registered: July 12, 2008Report This Post
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Thank you for your service...


You know what they say in the Cavalry, "...you hardly learn anything the second time you get kicked by a horse...
 
Posts: 921 | Location: Denver, Colorado | Registered: May 14, 2005Report This Post
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Good for her. Its too bad that more young folks don't emulate her.

A question though: Is the Bronze Star the new Army Service ribbon? Sheesh, how do you earn a Bronze Star while being part of a cultural support team? Of course, no offense to this young lady or her service.
 
Posts: 5624 | Location: Montana | Registered: November 01, 2010Report This Post
Go ahead punk, make my day
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quote:
Originally posted by Gustofer:
Good for her. Its too bad that more young folks don't emulate her.

A question though: Is the Bronze Star the new Army Service ribbon? Sheesh, how do you earn a Bronze Star while being part of a cultural support team? Of course, no offense to this young lady or her service.
Meritorious Bronze Stars have pretty much lost any meaning, other than you done a good job and it was a combat zone. Unless it's got "V" for being awarded for Valor in combat, it's just another end of tour award.


- Rhino
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Maybe you just suck...
 
Posts: 24038 | Location: FL | Registered: July 12, 2008Report This Post
Never Go
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quote:
Originally posted by Gustofer:
Good for her. Its too bad that more young folks don't emulate her.

A question though: Is the Bronze Star the new Army Service ribbon? Sheesh, how do you earn a Bronze Star while being part of a cultural support team? Of course, no offense to this young lady or her service.


The ARFCOM thread in GD about the LT was up to 4 pages yesterday about Bronze Stars being given out like hand sanitizer ... and the obligatory 2 pages of "i wanna touch the heiney".


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Posts: 2973 | Location: Here, when I posted this | Registered: January 27, 2001Report This Post
King of Goodness
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quote:
Originally posted by RHINOWSO:
quote:
Originally posted by Gustofer:
Good for her. Its too bad that more young folks don't emulate her.

A question though: Is the Bronze Star the new Army Service ribbon? Sheesh, how do you earn a Bronze Star while being part of a cultural support team? Of course, no offense to this young lady or her service.
Meritorious Bronze Stars have pretty much lost any meaning, other than you done a good job and it was a combat zone. Unless it's got "V" for being awarded for Valor in combat, it's just another end of tour award.


Classy... Roll Eyes



 
Posts: 6032 | Location: Dixie | Registered: February 10, 2003Report This Post
Go ahead punk, make my day
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quote:
Originally posted by varoadking:
quote:
Originally posted by RHINOWSO:
quote:
Originally posted by Gustofer:
Good for her. Its too bad that more young folks don't emulate her.

A question though: Is the Bronze Star the new Army Service ribbon? Sheesh, how do you earn a Bronze Star while being part of a cultural support team? Of course, no offense to this young lady or her service.
Meritorious Bronze Stars have pretty much lost any meaning, other than you done a good job and it was a combat zone. Unless it's got "V" for being awarded for Valor in combat, it's just another end of tour award.


Classy... Roll Eyes
You'll notice that I didn't say anything about HER Bronze Star, just that if you are in the military and seen how lots of Bronze stars are awarded to staff Pogues, REMFs for doing computer / admin work, the award itself has lost a lot of meaning. The way I framed it in my first post is inaccurate and not completely thought through.

Which is a shame, because it should truly be for people who were in harms way, maybe not for actual combat valor, but in harms way and doing meritorious work worthy of the 4-the highest individual medal this nation bestows.


- Rhino
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Posts: 24038 | Location: FL | Registered: July 12, 2008Report This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by RHINOWSO:
Which is a shame, because it should truly be for people who were in harms way, maybe not for actual combat valor, but in harms way and doing meritorious work worthy of the 4-the highest individual medal this nation bestows.


...and who sir are you to comment on whether or not she was in harms way? Two tours in Afghanistan certainly qualifies as being in harm's way in my book?

Mr. feersum dreadnaught was trying to bring to our attention that there are truly extra-ordinary people out there. With your four negative posts you're simply detracting attention from her accomplishments. Good day sir, and please just move along for a change.

Mr. Dreadnaught - thank you for sharing this with us, it is good to see that there are people like Rachel out there.



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Posts: 1326 | Location: Northern Virginia | Registered: March 29, 2008Report This Post
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The Air Force is a huge offender in 'Bronze Star Inflation.' Almost any E-7 and above can get a Bronze Star for serving in A-stan, while never leaving the fence, sitting in a cubicle or office at finance or elsewhere, and just doing their job (albeit, doing it well). I've seen several like this - IMO, it devalues the award and is something I vehemently disagree with.

OTHERS, on the other hand, have earned their Bronze Stars doing things 'above and beyond' while placing their lives in harm's way. I respect and honor those men and women.


That being said, I would NEVER question a Bronze Star from anybody, unless I knew personally that they were one of these 'office weenies' who never left the fence and whose lives were never really in mortal peril from enemy combat (the somewhat 'routine' rocket attacks against a base or FOB don't count IMO, as everybody on the base shares this danger).

The Air Force Times ran a story of two E-6's who worked in finance in A-stan and got Bronze Stars for end-of-tour decorations - that is not what I think the Bronze Star is for (again, IMO). I spent a short time in A-stan, and I never did ANYTHING that would earn a Bronze Star.



No arsenal is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.
Ronald Reagan
 
Posts: 15379 | Location: Hobbiton, The Shire, Middle Earth | Registered: September 27, 2004Report This Post
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She seems to deserve the praise and we should be proud of her.

In regards to 'bronze star inflation' maybe soldiers who receiver them for 'nothing' special should show the honor and temerity to DECLINE them?

If virtuous soldiers would refuse to accept the dubious honor, the service would stop awarding them.
 
Posts: 1343 | Registered: April 18, 2003Report This Post
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