While serving as a Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader from 2007-2010, Rachel Washburn became acquainted with the types of battles that take place on NFL fields on Sundays. Then she decided to find out what it was like to take part in a different kind of battle by serving in Afghanistan as a member of the United States Army.
On Sunday night, Washburn returned to the sidelines and was honored as the Eagles “Hometown Hero.”
Washburn’s father Lon spent time as a pilot in the Army and Air Force, and the family moved around a lot as she was growing up. “I’m from a little bit of everywhere,” Washburn 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.”
After arriving at Drexel University in 2006, Washburn joined the dance team and then got a spot on the Eagles Cheerleaders squad. While on the squad, she traveled to Iraq on a USO tour.
“That’s something that I always try to verbalize because the women I worked with at the Eagles were some of the most talented and most intelligent people that I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing,” Washburn said.
“We’re all beautiful women who are there to be entertaining at games, but also, we are incredibly involved in the community, which is something that I am incredibly proud of, and I’m sure that all of the other girls feel the same way. I’m really proud of the Eagles organization putting us out there in that sort of capacity.”
After graduation, Rachel became a member of the Army’s Cultural Support team. Only 25, she has already been awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal and the Combat, Airborne and Air Assault Badges. She is now stationed in Fort Stewart, Ga., as a platoon leader.
“I’m incredibly excited and humbled by it,” Washburn said. “I always thought that was such a wonderful thing that the Eagles did -- that every game they chose somebody to showcase what they had done for every single person in that stadium. 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.”
And win they did. The Eagles rolled the Chicago Bears 54-11 on Sunday Night Football. Philadelphia will now face off against the Dallas Cowboys next weekend with the winner locking up the NFC East title and a playoff spot.