5 airmen you didn't know you knew

The youngest of the five military branches, the Air Force is turning 69, and has packed  a lot of star power into its alumni, from presidents to celebrities and rock stars.

Chuck Norris

The ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ star was stationed at Osan Air Base as an air policeman in South Korea during the 1950s. It was there that Norris became interested in the martial arts, as he looked for a way to detain rowdy service members without pulling his weapon.

Johnny Cash

It was rumored that the “Walk the Line” singer bought his first guitar at a BX while stationed with the 12th Radio Squadron Mobile at Landsberg, Germany. Cash translated Soviet Army Morse Code messages, and is cited as the first operator to learn of Joseph Stalin’s death.

Bob Ross

The man who made a living making “happy little” paintings, was a career airman, serving 20 years and retiring as a master sergeant. It’s actually the Air Force that gave Ross his positive outlook on life. During his time in the service, Ross served as a first sergeant while stationed at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. He is quoted as saying that since he had to be “mean” and “tough” and “the guy who makes you scrub the latrine, the guy who makes you make your bed, the guy who screams at you for being late to work,” he would never scream again after leaving the military.

Morgan Freeman

The voice of God was an airman. In fact, Freeman turned down a partial drama scholarship to enlist in the Air force, where he served as a radar technician. While Freeman originally wanted to be a fighter pilot, he found the stage calling his name, and after four years, left the Air Force.

Jimmy Stewart

Stewart had already won an Academy Award for The Philadelphia Story when he was drafted by the Army. However, he came in underweight for his height, and was rejected. With the help of a Hollywood trainer, Stewart gained a few pounds and enlisted with the Army Air Corps as a private, then went on to be commissioned as a pilot. He even filmed a promotional film, Winning Your Wings, to recruit airmen into the USAAF. Stewart rose to the rank of Brigadier General while serving in the Army Air Force Reserve, and was one of the 12 founders and charter member of the Air Force Association.