(NEXSTAR) — Long before they served up musical hits and award-winning performances, many celebrities also served in the U.S. military. Here are a few you may not know about.
This 95-year-old crooner who has teamed up with Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett served on the frontlines during World War II. Bennett, born Anthony Dominick Benedetto in 1926, has described this time as a “front-row seat in hell” and said the war made him “completely opposed to war.”
Near the end of the war, the 20-time Grammy Award winner also helped liberate a Nazi concentration camp.
The 53-year-old Jamaican-American singer of “It Wasn’t Me” served as a Marine during the Persian Gulf War in the early 1990s. Shaggy, born Orville Richard Burrell, was a lance corporal. According to The Boston Globe, Shaggy says his downtime helped him hone his musical skills using items he had on hand, like cans.
Before becoming the villainous Kylo Ren in “Star Wars,” Driver served as a Marine before an injury from an unrelated mountain biking incident caused his medical discharge. Driver, 38, served as a lance corporal and called his discharge right before being deployed to Iraq “devastating,” according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
“I wanted to go so much,” Driver told “Fresh Air” host Terry Gross. “I mean, you were training to do this job for two years with these people. The idea of not going, someone else going in your place or not being there, is not really an easy thing to sit with.”
The 64-year-old rapper-turned-fictional-TV-detective joined the Army fresh out of high school to support his girlfriend and daughter, Stacker says. Ice-T, born Tracy Lauren Marrow, was stationed in Hawaii for several years. After his service, the two-time Grammy Award winner found success with a major music career in hip-hop from the late 1980s to the late 1990s. He has played Det. Odafin “Fin” Tutuola on TV’s longest-running primetime show, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” since 2000.
The Texas native joined the U.S. Air Force in 1950, though his time there was cut short due to a back injury, Texas Monthly explains.
Nelson, 89, fell into a career as a disc jockey shortly after and the rest is country music history. Nelson has since been a supporter of the armed forces, including playing free shows for members.
“I have a lot of respect for the military,” Nelson told TODAY at a concert for soldiers injured in Iraq in 2006. “I like to show them that I support them every chance I get. … We get as much out of it as (the soldiers).”