Through the years, there have been dozens of members of Team USA who represented the country in the Olympics or Paralympics and also served in the nation’s military – before, during and/or after their athletic careers. Many believe that the dedication and motivation needed to excel in athletics translated to becoming a leader in the armed forces.
Some of these athletes served multiple tours of duty, such as Charley Paddock and Tommy Hitchcock Jr., who competed in the Olympics in between serving in World War I and World War II.
Over the years, 15 U.S. Olympians have been killed, are missing in action or died as a result of war. These Olympians combined to win 13 medals: seven golds, five silvers and one bronze, but it is their devotion to the country, accepting dangerous assignments and rising to challenges that might be most noteworthy from their careers.
The Team USA Patriots series celebrates men and women who have represented the nation on the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams and also served in the nation’s armed forces. The initial installment of the series is an exhibit telling the stories of Team USA athletes who lost their lives while serving in the military. It will be online Wednesday, May 20 at usopm.org/team-usa-patriots and on the Museum’s social channels @USOPMuseum on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.