Hollywood is in no short supply of famous and chiseled actors playing the part of war hero. Duane “the Rock” Johnson has the muscle, but he lacks what Chuck Norris possesses. Tom Cruise has played every type of hero throughout time, but he too lacks what Chuck Norris possesses. Namely, authentic military credentials. Less than 5 years after the United States ended hostilities on the Korean peninsula, Chuck Norris was there keeping the peace with the United States Air Force. Whereas it might be a bit of hyperbole to say Chuck Norris kept the peace unilaterally, it is also equally accurate to say that the North Koreans never attacked when he was present. Few actors have risen to such an iconic status in American lore in the same manner as Chuck Norris. From Air Force security officer to Walker Texas Ranger, the legend of Chuck Norris continues to grow and thousands of years from now one might look back and think the man is Hector or Achilles reborn. As for modernity, American will continue to know him as the man, myth and bonafide Air Force Veteran.
Air Policeman Carlos Ray Norris
Chuck Norris was born Carlos Ray Norris in 1940 Ryan, Oklahoma. An otherwise ordinary childhood, Chuck was motivated to strike out from after high school by his father who was reported to go on month long alcohol binges threatening the family’s stability. Determine to chart his own course, Norris enlisted as soon as he was able in 1958. His original goal was to seek training for a career in law enforcement and as such, he became an Air Policeman. One might think wrestling up drunk soldiers, Marines and Airmen a fitting task for this karate champion. The only problem was that as of 1958, Chuck Norris didn’t know karate. As blasphemous as it now seems to say, there was a time where the karate legend didn’t know how to throw a kick.
Fortunately for the world of martial arts, Norris was stationed at Osan Air Base in South Korea where he picked up his training in Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwan Do. It is not confirmed whether the clouds parted and a ray of light rained down from the skies during his class, but nor is it denied. To say that Norris was quick learner would be an understatement. By the time he exited the Air Force just 4 years later he was already pursuing gigs as a karate instructor. He would go on to become the first westerner to receive an 8th degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do. However, with no more drunken bar fights to break up in the military he turned his attention to competition.
From Competition to Hollywood
Remarkably, Norris’ competition history highlights how myth and legend can become somewhat entangled into the factual account of a man. Chuck Norris registered stunning defeats in his first two competitions and went on to lose several more. An average man might consider throwing in the towel at this point, but Chuck Norris is no average man. He continued to learn, improve and most importantly get back up. When Chuck Norris refused to quit in the movies, he was simply channeling his past. By 1967, the tide had begun to turn and by 1968 he was the Professional Middleweight Karate Champion. This was a post he would hold for six years on his way to being named Fighter of the Year by Black Belt Magazine in 1969. It was then that gentleman by the name of Bruce Lee took notice and Hollywood came calling.
Chuck Norris had been encouraged into acting, but was only able to garner small roles initially. However, in 1973 he served as the nemesis to his new friend Bruce Lee in Way of the Dragon. Much like his competition career, his tenacity for success took it from there. He was starring in his own movies by 1979 and it was in the 1980’s with hits like Missing in Action and The Delta Force that Chuck had cemented his status and a legend and martial arts icon. However, it was in 1993 when he landed the role of Walker Texas Ranger that all of American would fall in love with an almost cult like following.
Honoring an Icon the Way it Should Be
Chuck Norris is classic Americana personified. A rags to riches success story that took grit to survive. An acting legend with bonafide military credentials. Remember, Chuck Norris was practicing roundhouse kicks on drunken Airmen before most reading this article were ever born. That he parlayed that success into a stunning martial arts career, acting portfolio and countless memes is simply worthy of a long slow clap out of sheer respect. Veterans always love it when their hollywood stars actually had the guts to serve.
Hollywood legend Jimmy Stewart was bombing the daylights out of Germany just a year or two before he filmed It’s a Wonderful Life. Comedy legend Mel Brooks was defusing German mines before leaving a legacy of hilarity for all time to adore. After a live performance, a fellow WW2 veteran took issue with Brooks’ portrayal of Hitler in a comedy set. Brooks simply replied with, “Really, I was in WW2. I didn’t see you there.” To have served before one goes on to Hollywood to portray a mere shadow of what veterans actually endure screams authenticity.
With that authenticity in mind, we offer you the Chuck Norris Challenge Coin. Highlighting a real veteran’s rise to meteoric success, it reminds you of his iconic status. Chuck Norris did not join the Air Force. The Air Force joined Chuck Norris. That says it all and should you throw down this coin at your local watering hole, you are now armed with the full story of the man. Should you throw the coin down and some PFC replies with, “Who is Chuck Norris?” please resist the urge to put a hand across the young man’s face. Simply gasp and then instruct the young whipper snapper with legend, the man, the myth and genuine Air Force veteran that is Chuck Norris.