Eagles honor former cheerleader who served in Afghanistan

PHILADELPHIA - December 22, 2013

Twenty five year old US Army First Lieutenant Rachel Washburn just returned from a second tour of duty in Afghanistan.

"I'm incredibly humbled and a little embarrassed by it, because there is certainly nothing special about my service more than any other service member," said Washburn.

In 2009 she was cheering on the Eagles but once she graduated from Drexel, she enlisted and was deployed in 2011.

If she wasn't in combat, she was working a cultural mission to win over the hearts and minds of women in Afghanistan.

"Some people ask their questions - what was it like working for the NFL? But the army is full of professionals, they are worried about your competency, your work ethic and if you can pull your own weight," said Washburn.

Washburn was recognized as a 'Hometown Hero' during the game.

In fact, it was a night of honors. From those fighting on the battlefield to little ones fighting illnesses including 6-year-old Keith known as 'Bubba.'

Who is his favorite team?

"The Eagles," he answered.

Who is his favorite player?

"Desean Jackson, he's the best," he said.

His mother says he's been the best during a tough ordeal. 'Bubba' has end stage renal disease and goes to dialysis five times a week.

With the help of the Eagles and the Casey Cares Foundation, which provides uplifting programs for critically ill children, Bubba and his family were able to stand on the sideline for pregame warm-ups.

It's the first NFL game for the boy who is waiting on a kidney.

"He's a fighter. He is just always working, trying to get better and working like nothing is wrong," said Tonya, his mother. 'Bubba' is a tough kid.

Meanwhile, as for the tough soldier, Washburn is stationed at Fort Stewart in Georgia. She'll be spending some time with her family during the holidays after she's done cheering on the Eagles during Sunday's game.

Copyright © 2023 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.