Rachel Washburn is not your average football fan. The Philadelphia Eagles honored the former cheerleader as its "Hometown Hero" Sunday night after she returned home from two tours in Afghanistan as First Lieutenant in the United States Army.
Washburn cheered for the Eagles from 2007-2010 while she attended college at Drexel University. After graduating with an ROTC scholarship, Washburn traded in her Vera Wang-designed sequined uniform for camouflage gear, joining the Army's Cultural Support team.
"The Cultural Support Team was an initiative created by the military to fulfill a tactical gap in Afghanistan, given the cultural restrictions," Rachel told the Philadelphia Eagles website. "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."
During Washburn's second tour, she served as a platoon leader of an Army intelligence unit.
The Eagles' director of cheerleading, Barbara Zaun, called Washburn the epitome of the "American Hero," and said Sunday night served as a way to thank the former cheerleader for her service.
Washburn's interest in the armed forces stemmed from her father, who was a pilot in the Army and Air Force. He nominated his daughter for the recognition. Though she moved mutliple times throughout her childhood, Washburn's interest in the armed forces did not waver. She considers Philadelphia her hometown.