Meet the Former Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleader Turned Army Lieutenant

Two tours of Afghanistan later, former Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader returns home.

Rachel Washburn poses in covert military attire.
(Image credit: Philadelphia Eagles)

Rachel Washburn is not your average football fan (opens in new tab). The Philadelphia Eagles honored the former cheerleader as its "Hometown Hero" (opens in new tab) 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. (opens in new tab) "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.

Rachel Washburn cheerleading at a football game.

(Image credit: Philadelphia Eagles)

Rachel Washburn surrounded by children while on patrol in Afghanistan.

(Image credit: Philadelphia Eagles)