This Eagles Cheerleader Also Does Army Intelligence in Afghanistan
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Last month Rachel Washburn returned home from Afghanistan, following her second tour as a first lieutenant in Army intelligence. She was honored Sunday night at halftime of the Bears-Eagles game in Philadelphia, where she was a cheerleader for three years.
Washburn, 25, works for the Army as part of a “Cultural Support Team,” which attaches women to special-operations units in an attempt to relate to the women of Afghanistan. She wore a head scarf while there and even helped deliver a local woman’s baby during a snowstorm.
“We kind of noticed that women everywhere share certain similarities,” Washburn said. “They obviously care about their home, their children. Women everywhere love pretty things. So if we wore a pretty head scarf, it would be like an icebreaker.”
The daughter of an Army helicopter pilot, Washburn was an ROTC student during her time as a cheerleader in Philadelphia, where she also attended Drexel University. To date, her awards include the Combat Action Badge, Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Airborne Badge and Air Assault Badge—quite a set of achievements for a woman who recently literally stood on the sidelines while the men took care of the action.
“It’s kind of a bit of a shock,” Washburn says of her transition from cheerleader to platoon leader. “You don’t expect those two things to go hand in hand with one person.”