military Athletes Who Are Military Heroes

Blake Edwards
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Athletes who were military heroes represent some of the bravest men and women to ever play professional sports. These Americans gave up the fame and fortune that would have come with being a professional athlete to serve their country. Many sacrificed more than that, giving up their lives on the front lines of World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War and the War in Iraq.

The military hero athletes on this list undoubtably include many names you know as sports stars first and soldiers second or vice versa but each has a story behind their service in the United States Armed Forces.

For some, that story includes leaving professional sports at the peak of their career to serve their country during wartime, such as legendary baseball player Bob Feller, boxer Joe Louis and baseball great Joe DiMaggio. These athletes can be considered military heroes.

Others, such as basketball star David Robinson and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Art Donovan, their military service came before their professional sports careers as they were fortunate enough to return from battle healthy enough to continue.

Sadly, many were not so lucky. In one of the more recent cases, up and coming Arizona Cardinals football player Pat Tillman left the NFL shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to become a U.S. Army Ranger. Tillman made the ultimate sacrifice when he was killed in action in April 2004.

These notable athletes who served in the military may not have all been the best of their respective sports and may not have all been decorated soldiers but each of these fine men and women should be thanked for their service nonetheless.

Pat Tillman is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Athletes Who Are Military Heroes
Photo: Cedward Brice/Flickr

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Profession: Athlete, American football player

Age: Died at 28 (1976-2004)

Birthplace: Fremont, California, United States of America

Schools: Arizona State University, Leland High School

Cause Of Death: Friendly fire, Firearm, Gunshot

Place Of Death: Spera, Khost Province, Afghanistan

Also Ranked

#6 on The Best Arizona Cardinals of All Time

#11 on The Most Beloved US Veterans

#5 on Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soon

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Roger Staubach is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Athletes Who Are Military Heroes
Photo: user uploaded image

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Profession: American football player

Age: 75

Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Schools: New Mexico Military Institute, Purcell Marian High School, United States Naval Academy

Also Ranked

#76 on The Smartest Professional Athletes

#2 on The Best Dallas Cowboys of All Time

#9 on The Best Quarterbacks of All Time

#31 on The Best Football Players Ever

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Bob Feller is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Athletes Who Are Military Heroes
Photo: Freebase/CC-BY

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Profession: Baseball player, Sailor

Age: Died at 92 (1918-2010)

Birthplace: Van Meter, Iowa, United States of America

Schools: Van Meter Elementary School

Cause Of Death: Leukemia

Place Of Death: Cleveland, Ohio, United States of America

Children: Bruce Feller, Martin Feller, Steven Feller

Also Ranked

#1 on The Best Cleveland Indians of All Time

#59 on The Greatest Baseball Players of All Time

#75 on The Most Beloved US Veterans

#24 on The Best Players in the Baseball Hall of Fame

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4

Jack Lummus


Jack Lummus is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Athletes Who Are Military Heroes
Photo: Freebase/Public domain

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Profession: American football player

Age: Died at 30 (1915-1945)

Birthplace: Texas, United States of America

Schools: Baylor University, Texas Military College

Cause Of Death: Killed in action

Place Of Death: Iwo Jima, Japan

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Bob Kalsu is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Athletes Who Are Military Heroes
Photo:  pfc terrance p downey/Vietnam Veterans

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Profession: American football player

Age: Died at 25 (1945-1970)

Birthplace: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States of America

Schools: University of Oklahoma

Place Of Death: Thừa Thiên–Huế Province, Vietnam

Children: James Robert Kalsu Jr.

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Yogi Berra is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Athletes Who Are Military Heroes
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Profession: Manager, Baseball player, Coach, Actor Writer

Age: 91

Birthplace: The Hill, USA, St. Louis, Missouri

Children: Larry Berra, Tim Berra, Dale Berra

Also Ranked

#36 on The Greatest Baseball Players of All Time

#2 on The Greatest Catchers of All Time

#10 on The Greatest Left Handed Baseball Players of All Time

#6 on The Greatest New York Yankees of All-Time

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Ted Williams is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Athletes Who Are Military Heroes
Photo: Freebase/CC-BY-SA

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Profession: Pilot, Baseball player

Age: Died at 84 (1918-2002)

Birthplace: San Diego, California, United States of America

Schools: Hoover High School

Cause Of Death: Cardiovascular disease

Place Of Death: Inverness, Florida, United States of America

Children: John Henry Williams, Claudia Williams, Barbara Joyce Williams

Also Ranked

#91 on Athletes Who Spark the Most Fan Arguments

#1 on The Best Boston Red Sox of All Time

#6 on The Greatest Baseball Players of All Time

#2 on The Greatest Left Handed Baseball Players of All Time

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Warren Spahn is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Athletes Who Are Military Heroes
Photo:  uploaded by Blake Edwards

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Profession: Baseball player

Age: Died at 82 (1921-2003)

Birthplace: Buffalo, New York, United States of America

Schools: South Park High School

Place Of Death: Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, United States of America

Also Ranked

#39 on The Greatest Baseball Players of All Time

#6 on The Best Atlanta Braves of All Time

#3 on The Greatest Left Handed Pitchers of All Time

#27 on The Greatest Left-Handed Athletes of All Time

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