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View Full Version : What celebrities have been in US military special forces units


Wesley Clark
05-13-2006, 11:41 PM
The only ones I know of are Ice T who was a Ranger and Jesse Ventura who was a navy seal. There have to be others, but I do not know of any.

Operation Ripper
05-13-2006, 11:45 PM
Ice T

Damn, sure didn't know that. Wonder why he was such a dick after he got out, with that Cop Killer crap.

Rysdad
05-13-2006, 11:55 PM
Wasn't Jaime Heineman (sp?) from Mythbusters in Spec Ops?

Wesley Clark
05-13-2006, 11:56 PM
Damn, sure didn't know that. Wonder why he was such a dick after he got out, with that Cop Killer crap.

He said he disliked the military and didn't like authority figures always yelling at him, so I guess I can see why he wrote that song.

Operation Ripper
05-14-2006, 12:06 AM
He said he disliked the military and didn't like authority figures always yelling at him, so I guess I can see why he wrote that song.

Well, that doesn't exactly square with becoming a Ranger I wouldn't think, which would invite even more of the same?

friedo
05-14-2006, 12:07 AM
NFL player Pat Tillman enlisted in the army after 9/11 and became an Army Ranger. He was killed due to a friendly fire accident in Afghanistan.

Bear_Nenno
05-14-2006, 12:33 AM
Is there anything definitive saying that Ice T was in Ranger Battalion, or ever completed Ranger School? I'm having serious doubts about either.

Triskadecamus
05-14-2006, 12:53 AM
Info Please, and Wikki both have blurbs on him. He served 4 years in the Army, including being qualified as a Ranger. Don't know his deployment record. He said he didn't reenlist because "The Army is good place to find out you don't want to die."

It is doubtful that the many vocal opponants to his life, and opinions would have failed to reveal any fraud in his military history.

I don't think much of him, personally, but he did serve, and evidently earned the ranger tab, which can't be done administratively.

Tris

Alessan
05-14-2006, 12:58 AM
I always thought the whole Cop Killer thing was just an act. After all, you're talking about a man who for the past five years has made his living playing a cop on TV.

BMax
05-14-2006, 01:02 AM
Damn, sure didn't know that. Wonder why he was such a dick after he got out, with that Cop Killer crap.
In 1991, Ice formed the Heavy Metal/Thrash Metal band Body Count. Their debut self-titled album contained a song called "Cop Killer", which led to the "Cop Killer controversy". This escalated to the point where death threats were sent to Warner Bros executives and stockholders threatened to pull out of the company. This eventually caused the album to be re-issued with "Cop Killer" removed, and Warner Brothers Records to drop him from the label. He answered the controversy by saying the song was written in character, and that "if you believe that I'm a cop killer, you believe David Bowie is an astronaut."..

Triskadecamus
05-14-2006, 01:07 AM
By the way, in addition to being a singer/songwriter, actor, author, Ranger, the man was a bank robber, pimp, and gang banger.

I don't find him the stuff of role models. I don't doubt the Ranger thing; almost all the rangers I ever met were arrogant, violent, and not particularly set apart from others by their intellectual or philosophical achievements. They were all tough bastards, though.

Tris

Bear_Nenno
05-14-2006, 01:22 AM
Here's the thing.
There's only three types of people who go to Ranger school in less than 4 years of service.
1) Rangers. None of the sites say anything about him being in Ranger Battalion. The ones that actually mention a unit, say he was with the 25th. So he's not in this category.
2) Officers. Biographies agree that he enlisted after High School. So, no college = no officer.
3) Very extremely motivated and exceptional soldiers. All the biographies claim he hated his brief service in the military. So that seems to contradict this category as well. But I guess it's possible.

I just don't see it. And, really, I dont like OR hate the guy. I couldn't care less. I'm just saying there is little to back up the claim other than I think maybe he said it one day and it gets repeated all over the place. But there isn't anything at all more specific than "Ranger".
Either way, he most definitely did not serve in a Ranger Battalion, so that excludes him from the OP's requirement of special forces "unit".
He may or may not have been to Ranger school, though. I certainly have my doubts.

Guinastasia
05-14-2006, 01:37 AM
Wait, I thought Jesse Ventura wasn't exactly a SEAL, it was found out?

Crandolph
05-14-2006, 01:43 AM
This guy claims (http://cursor.org/stories/seal_or_udt.htm) that Ventura was technically not quite a SEAL but part of a similar team called UDT.

outlierrn
05-14-2006, 08:01 AM
Jimmy Hendrix did a stint in the airborne

Throatwarbler Mangrove
05-14-2006, 08:39 AM
Tiger Wood's father was a Special Forces officer and a Vietnam veteran.

madmonk28
05-14-2006, 08:45 AM
I don't think Jamie from Mythbusters was actually in the special forces, I think it is just a joke Adam makes on the show.

outlierrn
05-14-2006, 10:08 AM
Ok, so I posted the Hendrix bit based on an everybody knows it. So a quick check at wikipedia says that he wasn't very successful in the 101st, and wouldn't have qualified as special forces, sorry for the ignorance.

JRDelirious
05-14-2006, 12:43 PM
Well, that's another thing, too: what are we referring to as "special forces units"? That has a specific meaning in the military (thus Hendrix was a paratrooper, but that's not SOF, just a different flavor of soldier). What is called that has varied throughout the military's history and there wasn't always a Special Operations command as such.

mks57
05-14-2006, 12:59 PM
Kris Kristofferson went though airborne, ranger, and helicopter pilot school. He made Captain before deciding to resign his commission and pursue a music career.

griffin1977
05-14-2006, 02:11 PM
Is there anything definitive saying that Ice T was in Ranger Battalion, or ever completed Ranger School? I'm having serious doubts about either.

Nothing definitive but EVERY online bio I can find mentions that he was a Ranger in the 25th Infantry.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice-T
http://netglimse.com/celebs/pages/ice_t/index.shtml
http://media.dailytargum.com/media/storage/paper168/news/2004/02/23/PageOne/IceT-Addresses.Group.Provides.Inspiration-614605.shtml?sourcedomain=dailytargum.com&MIIHost=media.collegepublisher.com

Incidentally, slight side track, but would the Rangers really count as special forces ? They are an 'elite' infantry formation but I would say they are not special forces (e.g the Parachute Regiment are an 'elite' unit, but they are not the SAS).

astro
05-14-2006, 02:29 PM
Isn't there some online database to verify military claims that lets you confirm this sort of status or is only for medals & stuff?

Rangers Lead the Way in Exposing Authour as a Fraud (http://washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A60120-2004May1&notFound=true)

Beyond the nature of this speech at Rutgers (http://riotsound.com/Events/2004/IceTFeb2004/Review/IceTFeb2004_Review.htm) makes he think he may well have been a Ranger even if he decided to try on different poses afterwards.

Ice-T (http://www2.jsonline.com/onwisconsin/music/oct04/268792.asp)
Although hardly the military type, Ice-T joined the Army in 1973 after finding out his girlfriend was pregnant, Northeastern University's student newspaper reported. More surprisingly still, he became a Ranger in the 25th Infantry Division. Years later, he explained that he became a Ranger because he liked their black berets. Eventually, Ice-T served four years in the Army before returning to Los Angeles and the gang life he'd been part of before his enlistment.

He is not particularly nostalgic about his military experience. When he lectures on college campuses, he often advises his audiences against enlisting

BMax
05-14-2006, 02:39 PM
Here's the thing.
There's only three types of people who go to Ranger school in less than 4 years of service.
1) Rangers. None of the sites say anything about him being in Ranger Battalion. The ones that actually mention a unit, say he was with the 25th. So he's not in this category.
2) Officers. Biographies agree that he enlisted after High School. So, no college = no officer.
3) Very extremely motivated and exceptional soldiers. All the biographies claim he hated his brief service in the military. So that seems to contradict this category as well. But I guess it's possible.

I just don't see it. And, really, I dont like OR hate the guy. I couldn't care less. I'm just saying there is little to back up the claim other than I think maybe he said it one day and it gets repeated all over the place. But there isn't anything at all more specific than "Ranger".
Either way, he most definitely did not serve in a Ranger Battalion, so that excludes him from the OP's requirement of special forces "unit".
He may or may not have been to Ranger school, though. I certainly have my doubts.Not that I'm standing up for someone who became famous for representing himself as a criminal, but I recall we had a squad of Pathfinders with the 6th Air cavalry at Fort Hood. These guys were Rangers, they wore the beret and had the tab sewn on their uniforms. They worked with the 19D forward observers (cavalry scouts). The 6th Air cav was definitely NOT a ranger unit.

HMS Irruncible
05-14-2006, 02:50 PM
Nothing definitive but EVERY online bio I can find mentions that he was a Ranger in the 25th Infantry.
But the 25th infantry isn't a Ranger unit and never has been AFAIK, so that doesn't really jibe. It is an infantry unit, however. He could have gotten slotted for Ranger school and passed. But passing a 9-week qualification course is a very different kind of Ranger than serving in an actual Ranger unit.

LanceShetrompf
05-14-2006, 02:55 PM
Just because someone was in a Ranger unit does not mean he was a 'Ranger' as we know them. I was in the Marines for ten years and worked with a lot of truen Rangers. You could be a administration clerk and have a Ranger tab on your upper arm.

astorian
05-14-2006, 03:13 PM
There are loads and loads of celebrities who've served in the Armed forces, many with distinction, but you'll have to be more specific about what constitutes "special forces." Are we talking only about elite units like the Green Berets and the SEALs?

I mean, I could name you MANY famous people who served with valor in WW2 (Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry, Senator George McGovern, actors Lee Marvin & Charles Durning, cartoonist Charles Schultz, and many others), but I don't know that any of them served in anything the OP would consider "special forces."

Sam Stone
05-14-2006, 03:42 PM
According to Wikipedia, David Niven rose to the rank of Lt. Col in the British commandos, and he took part in the D-Day invasion. Does that count? He was also a graduate of the Sandhurst military academy.

Sam Stone
05-14-2006, 03:45 PM
oops. I missed the part about being U.S. special forces.

Bear_Nenno
05-14-2006, 04:19 PM
According to Wikipedia, David Niven rose to the rank of Lt. Col in the British commandos, and he took part in the D-Day invasion. Does that count? He was also a graduate of the Sandhurst military academy.
That's counts as special forces. But it's supposed to be a celebrity. Who the hell is David Niven?? ;)

Nothing definitive but EVERY online bio I can find mentions that he was a Ranger in the 25th Infantry.And that's specifically the part that raises my BS meter. It's a rather dubious statement at best. And "EVERY" online Biography just seems to be copying word-for-word, the same 2-3 sentences about his service. The fact that there are several bios is irrelevant, if they're all getting their info from the same place.
It's usually quite easy to show someone was a Ranger. Their Bio would inlcude a date or class number when they graduated Ranger school, or would specifiy which Ranger Battalion they were in, etc.

Just because someone was in a Ranger unit does not mean he was a 'Ranger' as we know them. I was in the Marines for ten years and worked with a lot of truen Rangers. You could be a administration clerk and have a Ranger tab on your upper arm I would say that even an admin cleark in Ranger Battalion is a Ranger. Even the cooks have to go through RIP (Ranger Indoctrination Program) and that's no small feet.
However, you bring up a point which should be made. There are two kinds of Rangers. There are people who have graduated Ranger School. And there are people who serve in a Ranger Battlion.

Incidentally, Pat Tillman was BOTH, and a true RANGER. It's not difficult at all to find information about his Ranger service. And his online Bios include the date he actually went to Ranger School, and the start-end dates of his service in Bat.
The fact that I can't find this info on ICE-T makes me doubt its accuracy.

Bear_Nenno
05-14-2006, 04:21 PM
Oh, and Pat Tillman fulfilled the third requirement to actually being a real Ranger. He was an infantryman.
I forgot to mention that even a ranger cook can go to ranger school and get the tab. But he's not quite on the same tier as the 11B3Vs out there.

jimmmy
05-14-2006, 04:36 PM
What are "special forces" in the U.S. Services besides Green Berets?

I can think of Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler

zamboniracer
05-14-2006, 04:51 PM
There are loads and loads of celebrities who've served in the Armed forces, many with distinction, but you'll have to be more specific about what constitutes "special forces." Are we talking only about elite units like the Green Berets and the SEALs?

I mean, I could name you MANY famous people who served with valor in WW2 (Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry, Senator George McGovern, actors Lee Marvin & Charles Durning, cartoonist Charles Schultz, and many others), but I don't know that any of them served in anything the OP would consider "special forces."


Along those same lines baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams served with distinction in both WW2 and Korea. Yogi Berra took part in the D-Day invasion. Neither of them fit the OP's definition of special ops but I'll take 'em.

Walloon
05-14-2006, 06:14 PM
Through a Freedom of Information Act request, anyone can get the following information about a veteran of the U.S. armed forces:
Name
Service Number
Rank
Dates of Service
Awards and decorations
Place of entrance and separation

Apply to the Military Records Division (http://archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/) of the National Personnel Records Center, in St. Louis, Missouri. Be sure to state that this is a FOIA request.

Bear_Nenno
05-14-2006, 06:51 PM
What are "special forces" in the U.S. Services besides Green Berets?

I can think of Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler
Green Berests are Special Forces. (Capital S and F)
But "special forces" is a little less specific and can include Rangers, 160th, Psyops, Delta, etc.

ltfire
05-14-2006, 07:15 PM
Just a lowly infantry man, but, check out CHARLES DURNING.

http://pbs.org/memorialdayconcert/wwii/durning.html

silenus
05-14-2006, 07:56 PM
There's nothing lowly about the poor bloody infantry. But I take your meaning. If I ever meet Durning, he's going to get a salute and an "Thank You."

HMS Irruncible
05-14-2006, 08:14 PM
Green Berets are Special Forces. (Capital S and F)
But "special forces" is a little less specific and can include Rangers, 160th, Psyops, Delta, etc.
Some may consider this a nitpick, but of what you've listed, only Special Forces (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Army_Special_Forces) are Special Forces (aka Green Berets). The others you mentioned are units classed as Special Operations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Special_Operations_Forces) . As for Rangers, only the 75th Ranger Regiment is under SOCOM (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SOCOM) . These are the guys who not only pass the Ranger course, but serve in a Ranger unit (they wear the scroll of the 75th Ranger Regiment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/75th_Ranger_Regiment) ).

Technically a guy who has earned his Ranger tab by passing the course can only call himself Ranger Qualified. The saying goes: "The tab is a school, the scroll is a way of life." Still, earning a Ranger tab is no small feat, and worthy of some measure of respect.

Revenant Threshold
05-14-2006, 08:24 PM
Christopher Lee worked with/in the SOE in WWII, although that's more intelligence than straight military.

Bear_Nenno
05-14-2006, 09:18 PM
Some may consider this a nitpick, but of what you've listed, only Special Forces are Special Forces (aka Green Berets). The others you mentioned are units classed as Special Operations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Special_Operations_Forces) .
That's what I said. Special Forces. Capital S, Capital F. It's a proper noun.
But "special forces" (not capitalized, and not a proper nound) has no official definition. It can include any special operational unit. Period. There is no official military definition for "special forces". So fo people to argue "What is a special forces unit", they need to set their own definition.
Now, if they said "What is a Special Forces unit. Then THAT has a specific definition. Green Berets.

As for Rangers, only the 75th Ranger Regiment is under SOCOM (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SOCOM) . These are the guys who not only pass the Ranger course, but serve in a Ranger unit (they wear the scroll of the 75th Ranger Regiment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/75th_Ranger_Regiment) ). Since we're nitpicking:
Only regimental support and incoming personnel where a 75th Scroll. Rangers wear a scroll of their Battalion. Either a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Battlaion Scroll. Not a 75th Reg scroll.
4th, 5th and 6th Ranger Battalion personnel wear an Airorne "Follow Me" patch, and not a scroll at all.

Technically a guy who has earned his Ranger tab by passing the course can only call himself Ranger Qualified. The saying goes: "The tab is a school, the scroll is a way of life." Still, earning a Ranger tab is no small feat, and worthy of some measure of respect.
Getting a Ranger Tab is harder than actually becoming a Ranger. RIP is four weeks long. Ranger school is about sixty something days long, much more intense, and more of a mental challenge as well.
Staying a Ranger in Bat, however, is a whole different animal. Definitely a way of life.

griffin1977
05-14-2006, 09:32 PM
According to Wikipedia, David Niven rose to the rank of Lt. Col in the British commandos, and he took part in the D-Day invasion. Does that count? He was also a graduate of the Sandhurst military academy.
I would defintely say yes. The Royal Marine Commandos (and later the SAS) were the model which all modern Special Forces were based...

astorian
05-14-2006, 10:41 PM
According to Wikipedia, David Niven rose to the rank of Lt. Col in the British commandos, and he took part in the D-Day invasion. Does that count? He was also a graduate of the Sandhurst military academy.

What makes Niven even more amazing is this: he'd DONE his time in the British Army, and was safe in Hollywood, attempting a movie career when Britain went to war with Germany, Niven voluntarily went back to England and re-enlisted.

"Special forces" or not, a man like that deserves a salute.

drillrod
05-15-2006, 09:48 PM
Anybody that graduates Ranger school and wears the tab is called a Ranger.

It may well be that some Rangers, within their own circles, distinguish between those that served in Ranger Bat and those that 'just' completed the course.

Also, each infantry division has it's own LRS (Long Range Surveillance) elements that are comprised, almost exclusively of Rangers.

slaphead
05-16-2006, 05:24 AM
What makes Niven even more amazing is this: he'd DONE his time in the British Army, and was safe in Hollywood, attempting a movie career when Britain went to war with Germany, Niven voluntarily went back to England and re-enlisted.

"Special forces" or not, a man like that deserves a salute.
If I remember his book correctly, he was actually a career officer in the Highland Light Infantry* but was medically discharged due to a bad back resulting from a horse kick (hence a joke about being 'kicked out of the army'). Shortly after being discharged he found an osteopath or similar who fixed his back, but the military wouldn't have him, so he ended up in Hollywood.

*Apparently as a result of putting 'Anything but the Highland Light Infantry' as his third choice when filling in his three preferred regiments after graduating. He was then welcomed by his new CO with words along the lines of "I see you were very keen to join our regiment :mad: ". Bet that taught him not be funny on official forms....

Dr. Rieux
05-16-2006, 07:36 AM
Author Harlan Ellison was a Ranger.

Loach
05-16-2006, 08:36 AM
Anybody that graduates Ranger school and wears the tab is called a Ranger.



By who? I've known plenty of Ranger school graduates. None are known as Rangers unless they wore the black (now khaki) beret.

Elendil's Heir
05-16-2006, 09:36 AM
Former U.S. senator, governor, presidential candidate and Debra Winger boyfriend Bob Kerrey (D-Nebr.) was a SEAL, and won the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War.

bump
05-16-2006, 09:39 AM
Although not a Special Forces type, I've always been impressed by General Jimmy Stewart, USAFR. (http://wpafb.af.mil/museum/history/wwii/js.htm)

Elendil's Heir
05-16-2006, 09:54 AM
From Wikipedia, via BMax:

....He answered the controversy by saying the song was written in character, and that "if you believe that I'm a cop killer, you believe David Bowie is an astronaut."

Nice. ;)

Wendell Wagner
05-16-2006, 10:21 AM
Dr. Rieux writes:

> Author Harlan Ellison was a Ranger.

Cite? I did a little Googling and found only a reference to the blurb on one of his books in which he was clearly making up random stories about his life. What's your source for saying this?

Zsofia
05-16-2006, 10:42 AM
Wasn't Jaime Heineman (sp?) from Mythbusters in Spec Ops?
No, at least not according to the show's website, but he does have a degree in Russian Languages and Literature, of all things.

Dr. Rieux
05-16-2006, 10:58 AM
Dr. Rieux writes:

> Author Harlan Ellison was a Ranger.

Cite? I did a little Googling and found only a reference to the blurb on one of his books in which he was clearly making up random stories about his life. What's your source for saying this?
Various autobiographical pieces he's written over the years, usually as intros to his stories.

Dr. Rieux
05-16-2006, 11:07 AM
Of course I could be wrong--or Harlan might have made it up.

JThunder
05-16-2006, 12:03 PM
Does The A-Team count?

Szlater
05-16-2006, 12:29 PM
Sir Jeremy 'Paddy' Ashdown, former leader of the Liberal Democrats (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal_Democrats_%28UK%29) was a Royal Marine Commando (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Marines) and later in the SBS (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Boat_Service).

Szlater
05-16-2006, 02:50 PM
Sir Jeremy 'Paddy' Ashdown, former leader of the Liberal Democrats (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal_Democrats_%28UK%29) was a Royal Marine Commando (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Marines) and later in the SBS (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Boat_Service).

I'm pretty sure he's Lord Ashdown, rather than 'Sir'.. oops. :smack:

Civil Guy
05-16-2006, 10:01 PM
Fails on two counts maybe (not special forces, not American), but Julia Child worked for British Intelligence during the second WW, No -?

Alvin York became a celebrity because of wartime heroism, right?

Walloon
05-16-2006, 10:56 PM
Julia Child worked for the Office of Strategic Services (http://moaa.org/magazine/January2003/f_juliachild.asp), the predecessor of the CIA.Though Julia would later say, modestly, "I was just a file clerk," she had a high security clearance for her work, which included all classified papers for the invasion of the Malaysian peninsula. She tracked sensitive documents, dispatches, and espionage/sabotage under the South East Asia Command, then headed by Mountbatten.

Wesley Clark
05-17-2006, 03:30 PM
According to Wikipedia the answer is not many. There are famous people, but they are all famous because of their involvement in SO forces, not because of something else they did. I really only know of some US special forces units and don't know of overseas units (except that Benjamin Netanyahu's brother was a counteterrorist commando in Israel).

Rangers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Army_Rangers#Famous_Rangers)

Delta Force (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delta_force#Famous_Delta_Force_operators)

SEALS (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navy_seals#Famous_Navy_SEALs)

bump
05-21-2006, 12:13 PM
(except that Benjamin Netanyahu's brother was a counteterrorist commando in Israel).


Actually, Benjamin Netanyahu was a member of Sayeret Matkal (the IDF's special forces), along with his two brothers. So was Ehud Barak (another Israeli Prime Minister)

His older brother Jonathan was killed( the only casualty) in the famous 1976 hostage rescue raid at Entebbe, Uganda.

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