Most people’s memories of Bill Cosby involve a certain lovable someone named Dr. Heathcliff “Cliff” Huxtable. To the U.S. Navy, however, he is also former HM3 Bill Cosby.
The legendary comedian has been named as a Lone Sailor Awardee, an honor given out by the Navy Memorial. The Lone Sailor award is given in recognition of a Navy and Marine Corps veteran’s lifetime achievements.
Ever the witty person, Bill Cosby shares the rather simple decision-making process that led to his enlistment in the Navy. The comedian told the Navy Times: “Back in 1956, when I went in, I was just looking at something simple like, well, how do I want to die? You’re going into the service, so you’re putting your body on the line. So you wanna go in the Army? You’ll die in a foxhole. Marine Corps? Die in a foxhole. Air Force? Plane crash, or get shot out of the air. For some reason I just chose that I wanted to die out at sea.”
Despite what seemed to be a shallow start, Bill Cosby was able to survive enlistment and went on to pick up skills that will prove helpful to him later in life. He served as a hospital corpsman in naval hospitals from 1956 until 1961. He was also quite a jock, having been a star basketball and track athlete.
He was assigned to, among others, the Naval Medical Center Bethesda in Maryland and the Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. His tasks involved being a physical therapist who assisted Marine patients as they recovered from injuries sustained during the Korean War.