Memorial Day 2021 has arrived. It serves as a meaningful reminder to honor our veterans, appreciate their sacrifice, and model their all-in effort to help shape and secure the world. And while we assume that most men and women who have served in the United States Military are tough-as-nails, loyal and disciplined badasses -- legends from George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, and Dwight Eisenhower to General Patton, John McCain, and Colin Powell -- prized patriots also pursue other admirable paths long after leaving their duties at the base or on the battlegrounds. In fact, thousands of former military men and women have gone on to conquer business, sports, entertainment, fashion, technology, and more.
True Classic has a longstanding mission to support our military, so in that spirit, here are some names you’ve almost certainly heard of, whose service you probably haven’t.
1. Johnny Cash
For four years, Johnny Cash was a Morse code operator intercepting Soviet Army correspondence in the U.S. Air Force. The Airman in Black showcased impressive skills cracking codes and providing intel for national security. He’s said to be the first American to hear of the death of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Throughout his musical career, he not only frequented venues like Folsom Prison, but often performed at naval stations and army bases.
2. Bob Ross
Even television legend Bob Ross, who seemed so serene with his palette, served twenty years as a first sergeant in the US Air Force. It was this experience, viewing the snow-capped peaks from his base on Alaska and not wanting to have to scream at anyone in his next career, that helped make the mild-mannered painter we all know and love.
3. James Earl Jones
A man’s caché and charisma are often signified by the aura he exudes and the vibe of his voice. Perhaps the most notable voice in show business history belongs to Jones, who has verbalized the likes of Darth Vader, Mufasa from The Lion King, and fascinating icons in films like Coming to America, Field of Dreams, and The Sandlot. Long before his Hollywood career, Jones was an ROTC member and graduate of Ranger School, who made it all the way to first lieutenant before being discharged.
4. Ted Williams
Known as the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived, Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams is arguably the most notable professional athlete to pay his dues and embrace the opportunity to serve his country. Amid the Splendid Splinter’s domination on the baseball diamond, three marriages with models, actresses, and socialites, and visiting ill children in hundreds of hospitals, Williams was a fighter pilot and flight instructor in both World War II and the Korean War.
5. Hugh Hefner
Speaking of sex appeal, no former military man has ever epitomized fantasy and fascination of style, beauty, glamour, and fashion than former Army infantry clerk and Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner.
It’s impressive and respectable that so many ex-Military men and women have impacted the real world and gone on to adapt their training and lessons learned in the field to make effective leaders, entertaining role models, and ambassadors of style, grace, and the American spirit. This Memorial Day more than ever before, we sincerely salute our heroes who have served our nation and helped citizens survive and sustain a comfortable career and active lifestyle. We commend these Military heroes’ commitment to lead and inspire us not just on the last Monday in May, but by making us proud and keeping us safe year-round and throughout history.
This Memorial Day, show your support for active military and veterans. Fly a flag, share a story, donate to a cause, visit with a veteran, and honor those who served and patriotically paved the way for the America we cherish and value today.