Rachel Washburn was a Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader, who carried and waved around pom-poms for work. However, now that she’s an Army intelligence officer with a special ops combat unit in Afghanistan, she is no longer holding that prop. Instead, she is now armed with a pistol and an assault rifle.
Since then, she has pioneered a special mission, which is aimed “to relate to local women in ways that would not be culturally inappropriate for male troops”. She has also helped deliver an Afghan baby in a snowstorm.
From 2007 to 2009, Rachel cheered for the Eagles. However, in 2008, she decided to go on a military goodwill tour, along with other cheerleaders, to Iraq and Kuwait. In her case, it was already a military internship.
Rachel’s idea to join the Army wasn’t really sudden. During her three seasons with the Eagles, she was already an Army ROTC student and a history major at Drexel University, Philadelphia. Her father was an Air Force fighter pilot and an Army helicopter pilot.
Before she joined the 8-month tour in Afghanistan in 2011 to 2012, she was a part of the “Cultural Support Team Program”, whose mission was to attach women to special ops units to relate to Afghan women.
When the deployment was about to end, a terrible snowstorm hit. It was the day when her unit was about to leave a certain village. However, she and her partner knew a local woman had gone into labor and that her husband was unable to find a midwife.
So, Rachel and her colleague brought the woman in a military vehicle to the mud hut of their unit. Using an Army radio, she contacted a special ops medic to help deliver the baby.
She said, “Everything was successful. Her husband gave us a little trinket. He was so grateful to have a boy”.
On November 17, she returned from her second tour in Afghanistan. Within her 9-month deployment, she was assigned as the platoon leader of an Army intelligence unit.
According to her, she received several military awards and decorations, such as the Army Commendation Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Airborne Badge, Combat Action Badge, and the Air Assault Badge.
Rachel said she still has about a year left in the Army. But, she is considering to sign on for a few more years. “There are some opportunities that are enticing me,” she explained.
Be inspired by Rachel and her story by checking out her photos below:
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