The United States Armed Forces transitioned to an all-volunteer military force on July 1, 1973, in the waning years of the Vietnam War. As part of this decision, the national draft was repositioned as part of America’s national defense strategy to serve as a deterrent and support military readiness if the Department of Defense requested additional military personnel.
The success of the all-volunteer force is apparent, this Nation is fortunate to have military heroes who served this great Nation as both volunteers and draftees. In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the last draft call in December 1972 and the conception of the all-volunteer military, we salute those individuals who were drafted or volunteered and served America with great honor, courage and distinction in times of war and peace.
The Storied Lives of 10 American Heroes
Some of these veteran heroes dedicated their time to community service and helping other veterans, while others took up hobbies like painting, golfing, and acting. Some of the world’s most famous and beloved celebrities have served in the military. Here are 10:
- Chuck Norris is a famous actor known for his 1973 role as Bruce Lee. A black belt in Tang Soo Do, Norris was introduced to martial arts while serving in the military. Chuck Norris joined the U.S. Air Force when he was 18 years old and was stationed in South Korea.
- Clint Eastwood is an iconic Hollywood actor known for movies such as Heartbreak Ridge, Million Dollar Baby and Gran Torino. He has also produced and directed many famous films, including the Oscar winning film, American Sniper. Eastwood served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.
- Ice-T is a known rapper and actor, whose career in the entertainment industry started in the early 1980s. Prior to this success, he served four years in the U.S. Army with the 25th infantry division in Hawaii.
- Morgan Freeman, a world famous actor whose amazing award-winning work in movies like Glory, Invictus and Shawshank Redemption have been recognized over the years with many awards and accolades. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1955, at the age of 18 and eventually went on to be an Airman First Class before changing paths and pursuing a career in the entertainment industry.
- Bob Ross was an American painter, art instructor and television host who created the instructional television program The Joy of Painting. Ross enlisted in the U.S. Air Force at only 18 years old. He moved up in ranking and became a sergeant before retiring in 1981, marking 20 years in the service.
- Adam Driver is an actor, best known for his role as Kylo Ren in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Driver enlisted in the U.S. Corps at the age of 18, motivated by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He served two years and eight months before an injury led to his medical discharge.
- In 1957, Elvis Presley was drafted into the U.S. Army amid his rising fame as a singer. He served as a soldier in Frankfurt, Germany and was promoted to Sergeant before his honorable discharge in 1959.
- Bob Barker is famous for his game show career, specifically for hosting The Price Is Right. Before his lengthy history in broadcast television, he served in the U.S. Navy during WWII, training as a fighter pilot.
- MC Hammer’s music career began in the late 1980s and peaked in 1990 with his third album release. Before all his success, MC Hammer completed three years in the U.S Navy before receiving an honorable discharge and dedicating himself to his music.
- Johnny Cash was an American country singer-songwriter. Cash served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean war and was assigned to the 12th Radio Squadron Mobile Security Service in Germany. During his time in the military, he served as a Morse Code Intercept Operator.
We thank every man and woman who has served in the U.S. armed forces with honor and distinction for past 246 years, contributing to the defense of our Nation and American history.
Discover more about the History of the Selective Service System
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