Don't Forget Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, or MC Hammer When You're Honoring Veterans Today
If "God Bless the U.S.A." and its ilk aren't quite doing it for you this Veteran's Day, have no fear: You can pay homage to those who've served without feeling like you're in a Chevy commercial. Here are a few alternatives.
In 1961, a 19-year-old Hendrix was given a choice between prison or the Army after dabbling in auto theft. Assigned to the 101st Airborne Division in Kentucky, James M. Hendrix lasted exactly one year before being discharged for "behavior problems," including "little regard for regulations," like the one that says you can't just hang around the platoon area masturbating while you're supposed to be on detail.
By contrast, long before he was the man in black, Johnny Cash was a highly skilled Morse code intercept operator in the U.S. Air Force. He served from 1950 to 1954 and, as a radio operator, was reportedly the first American to get word of Joseph Stalin's death. He also formed his first band, the Landsberg Barbarians, while stationed in Germany. After being discharged (honorably), he used the G.I. bill to take radio-announcing classes at a broadcasting school in Memphis.
Okay, so Hammer must have destroyed all pictures in existence of himself in uniform. If anyone finds one, let us know.
Long before he ever donned hammer pants -- long before he even dreamed of becoming a tourism ambassador for his hometown -- Oakland's own Stanley Kirk Burrell graduated from Castlemont High School and enlisted in the Navy, serving as a Petty Officer at the Naval Air Station at Moffett Field for three years before his honorable discharge. The rest is hip-hop history, complete with getting ordained as a preacher and going bankrupt, though Hammer's post-9/11 album Active Duty let us know his patriotism still runs strong. And then, six years later, there was this.
Musician-veteran honorable mentions for your own Internet research/pleasure: Ice-T (Army), John Coltrane (Navy), Elvis Presley (Army), Tool's Maynard James Keenan (Army), Shaggy (Marines, served in the Gulf War), Jerry Garcia (Army, for nine months, went AWOL several times).