Cheerleader-to-Soldier: Philly Eagles Girl Turns in Pom-Poms for Rifle

rachelwashburnfacebook_s640x465Rachel Washburn, 25, was a cheerleader with the Philadelphia Eagles when she decided a career shift was in order. So she traded in her pom-poms and signed on the dotted Army contract line — and she’s since been serving as an intelligence officer with a special ops combat unit in Afghanistan.

She just returned from her second tour, and is set to receive a “Hometown Hero” honor ceremony at Sunday’s Eagles game at home against the Chicago Bears. Part of her overseas strengths comes from the fact she’s able to interact with village women at a different level than her male soldier counterparts — even helping one deliver a baby during a massive snowstorm, USA Today reported.

“Initially, it was kind of a novelty to people I met if they ever found out,” she said, to USA Today. “It’s kind of a bit of a shock. You don’t expect those two things to go hand in hand with one person.”

Ms. Washburn spent three seasons with the Eagles, after serving in the Army ROTC as a student at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Moreover, military service runs in her blood: Her father was both Army helicopter pilot and Air Force fighter pilots.

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