First Lieutenant Rachel Washburn, 25, a former Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader from 2007 to 2009 turned soldier, who finished her second tour in Afghanistan in November, was honored Sunday by the Philidelphia Eagles as a Hometown Hero.
The daughter of Army helicopter pilot and Air Force pilot Lon Washburn, she was a military brat who moved many times during her childhood.
“I’m from a little bit of everywhere,” Rachel said. “I definitely didn’t mind the military lifestyle as far as moving. I always thought that my dad had a pretty cool job and that certainly helped push me in that direction.”
It was her father who nominated her for the Eagles award.
“I watched her go through two tours in Afghanistan and all of the things that she sacrificed,” he said. “It was not a very easy couple of tours and I just really kind of thought, ‘Man, what a homecoming that would be if (the Eagles) recognized her for that.'”
Washburn, who received the Bronze Star Medal, was one of the first females on the Army’s new Cultural Support Program, which is attached to Special-operations combat forces like the Army Green Berets, Rangers, and Navy SEALs..
As part of the Cultural Support Program, she went on missions with special operations forces, advocating for Afghan women and children.
“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,” she told the Philadelphia Eagles website.
Rachel was not born in Philadelphia but has always loved the city. She decided to go to Drexel University and it was during that time she began cheering for the Eagles.
“The hometown part was really interesting, because she’s kind of from everywhere, but she calls Philadelphia her home, and she chose Philadelphia to call home,” her father said. “Even on her military paperwork and whenever people ask her where she’s from, she says the same thing every time. She says ‘I’m kind of a military brat and I’ve lived all over, but I call Philadelphia home.’”
“I’m incredibly excited and humbled by it,” Washburn said. “I’m so honored because I call Philadelphia home, I love the Eagles so much and I’m just excited to be home in Philadelphia and watch the Eagles win.”
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