There are hundreds of professional athletes who have served with distinction & valor and as we celebrate our independence we take a look at 5 notable athletes who served their country with great honor & helped keep us free.

5. Ted Williams

BOSTON, MA - CIRCA 1945:  (UNDATED FILE PHOTO)  Baseball legend Ted Williams (1918 - 2002) of the Boston Red Sox swings a bat at a ball during a pre-game practice as Walter "Smokey" Baker, the 13-year-old son of Red Sox pitching coach Del Baker (1892 - 1973), watches circa 1945 in Boston, Massachusetts. Williams, 83-years-old, was pronounced dead July 5, 2002 at Citrus County Memorial Hospital in Florida. Williams died of an apparent heart attack.  (Photo by Getty Images)

BOSTON, MA – CIRCA 1945: (UNDATED FILE PHOTO) Baseball legend Ted Williams (1918 – 2002) of the Boston Red Sox swings a bat at a ball during a pre-game practice as Walter “Smokey” Baker, the 13-year-old son of Red Sox pitching coach Del Baker (1892 – 1973), watches circa 1945 in Boston, Massachusetts. Williams, 83-years-old, was pronounced dead July 5, 2002 at Citrus County Memorial Hospital in Florida. Williams died of an apparent heart attack. (Photo by Getty Images)

Ted Williams was an All-star for seventeen out of his 19 seasons played  in the MLB, all with the Boston Red Sox. In addition to being a two-time Triple Crown winner, multiple MVPs & Batting Champ titles. He also served in 2 wars. Williams left baseball to serve (as hundreds of players did) in World War Two in 1943 to serve in the Navy & Marines for 3 years. In 1952 & 1953 he returned to serve as a Marine combat aviator in the Korean War for parts of 1952 & 1953.

4. Roger Staubach

DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 17:  Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach stands before a poster of Cowboys legendary coach Tom Landry during memorial service in Dallas, Texas 17 February, 2000. Landry died Saturday from lukemia.    POOL/Mat OTERO  (Photo credit should read MAT OTERO/AFP/Getty Images)

DALLAS, TX – FEBRUARY 17: Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach stands before a poster of Cowboys legendary coach Tom Landry during memorial service in Dallas, Texas 17 February, 2000. Landry died Saturday from lukemia. POOL/Mat OTERO (Photo credit should read MAT OTERO/AFP/Getty Images)

Not only was Roger Staubach a Heisman trophy winning Quarterback  for Navy in 1963, but he also honored his commitment & served in the US Navy for 4 years and served a tour in Vietnam before joining the Dallas Cowboys as a 27-year-old rookie. That gap didn’t slow him down as he went on to win 2 Super Bowls & a Super Bowl MVP for Dallas beofre going into the NFL Hall of fame in 1985.

3. Rocky Bleier

The gritty Pittsburgh running back was drafted after finishing his college career at Notre dame in 1967. He played his rookie season with the Steelers in 1968 but  was drafted by the U.S Army in December of that year. He volunteered for duty in Vietnam & while serving on patrol in 1969  he was shot in his thigh & lost part of his foot to a grenade earning a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.  A year after being wounded he reported back to Steelers training camp not fully recovery & spent the next 2 years fighting pain, regaining his health &  fighting for his spot on the roster. Despite being waived twice by the team he caught on in 1974 & never relinquished his starting spot again as a monster blocker for Franco Harris & an offensive weapon in his own right winning four super Bowls with the team before  retiring  after the 1980 season.

Bleier eventually wrote a book about his journey called ‘Fighting Back: The Rocky Bleier Story’ thatt was turned into a TV Movie in 1980.

2. Warren Spahn

CIRCA 1955:  (FILE PHOTO)  Baseball player Warren Spahn is shown wearing the team uniform of the Milwaukee Braves in this portrait circa 1955. Spahn, a 14-time National League All-Star, died at his home November 24, 2003 in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Getty Images)

CIRCA 1955: (FILE PHOTO) Baseball player Warren Spahn is shown wearing the team uniform of the Milwaukee Braves in this portrait circa 1955. Spahn, a 14-time National League All-Star, died at his home November 24, 2003 in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. (Photo by Getty Images)

Warren Spahn was a storied MLB pitcher who played 21 years in the National League. He won 20 games or more in 13 season & won the Cy Young winner in 1957 & won 363 games in his career before being elected to the MLB Hall of Fame in 1973.

Like many player of his era he enlisted in the Army during World War Two and served with distinction earning a Purple Heart & was awarded a Battlefield Commission for actions during the Battle of the Bulge as a combat engineer.

1. Pat Tillman

(Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

(Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

Pat Tillman left a promising NFL career & the paycheck modern athletes earn behind in order to join the elite US Army Rangers in 2002 following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Serving in Iraq & Afghanistan Tillman eventually lost his life to “Friendly Fire”. His service & sacrifice is a testament to the dangers all US Troops face in wartime and his dedication to his country over the personal gain to be had as a pro athlete stands as the ultimate sacrifice to many Americans.

 

Comments

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

More From CBS Baltimore

Track Weather On The Go With Our App!
CBS All Access

Watch & Listen LIVE