Phildelphia Eagles honor former cheerleader after two Army tours in Afghanistan

By George Chidi
Saturday, December 21, 2013 20:14 EDT
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Rachel Washburn
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A former Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader will be honored Sunday night as a “Hometown Hero” at their home game against the Chicago Bears after returning from her second tour in Afghanistan as an Army intelligence officer.

1st Lt. Rachel Washburn, 25, served with a special operations unit on a Cultural Support Team designed to help the Army connect more effectively with Afghan women.

Washburn worked as a cheerleader with the Eagles while studying at Drexel University as an Army ROTC student. She told USA Today about growing up as a military brat — her father was an Army helicopter pilot and an Air Force fighter pilot.

During a snowstorm on her first deployment, she and her partner learned a local woman had gone into labor. The Afghan woman’s husband would not allow male soldiers near his wife, so Washburn found herself delivering the baby, with help over the radio from a special operations medic.

This is the nature of the Army’s cultural support program — engage Afghan women where the Army is operating, given the culturally inappropriate nature of contact with male soldiers.

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