VIA| As a Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader, Rachel Washburn toted pom-poms. As an Army intelligence officer with a special ops combat unit in Afghanistan, she carried an assault rifle and pistol. She was a pioneer on a special mission to relate to local women in ways that would be culturally inappropriate for male troops — including helping deliver an Afghan baby in a snowstorm.

Washburn, 26, who recently returned from her second tour in Afghanistan, was honored as a “Hometown Hero” by the Eagles at their home game last year against the Chicago Bears.

2014-11-27GCheerleader turned soldier? Did that turn heads when she was in military training or living in a mud hut with Green Berets in a village in Afghanistan?

“Initially, it was kind of a novelty to people I met if they ever found out,” Washburn said  “It’s kind of a bit of a shock. You don’t expect those two things to go hand in hand with one person.”


According to Washburn, her military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Combat Action Badge, Airborne Badge and Air Assault Badge.

Washburn said she has about a year left in the Army, but she is considering signing on for a few more years. “There are some opportunities that are enticing me.”

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