Each day, the VA honors a special military veteran for their dedicated service on their blog, VAntage Point. Today’s veteran is Air Force Veteran and movie star Chuck Norris, who served as air police before becoming a karate champion and starting his film career.
Carlos “Chuck” Norris was born March 10th, 1940 in Ryan, Oklahoma. After graduating High School in 1958, he enlisted in the Air Force as an air policeman with hopes to train as security police. He was stationed at Osan Air Base in South Korea, which is where he recieved his nickname, “Chuck,” from a fellow airman.
At Osan air Base, Norris picked up some Martial Art skills and earned a black belt in Tang Soo Do, a form of Korean Karate, after training with some of the martial art’s masters.
After his service in South Korea, Norris served at March Air Force Base in Riverside County, California and continued to serve as an air policeman until he was discharged in August 1962 at the rank of airman first class.
After the military, Norris applied to be a police officer but was placed on a waiting list, so he opened his own martial arts studio in Torrance, California instead. He began competing and eventually won his first World Middleweight Karate Championship title in 1968, holding the title of Karate World Champion for six years before retiring after his 1974 victory.
During that time, Norris met Bruce Lee, leading to his film career. After his breakout performance in “Return of the Dragon,” Norris went on to star in multiple action films and television shows such as “Walker, Texas Ranger,” and “The Delta Force.” Additionally, Norris’s brother was killed in action during the Vietnam war, leading Norris to dedicate his “Missing in Action” films to his brother’s memory.
In 2001, Norris received the Veteran of the Year award from the Air Force, in 2007 he was made an honorary US Marine, and in 2011 he was made an honorary Texas Ranger.
Happy 80th birthday, Chuck Norris! And thank you for your service.