Air Force Veteran Chuck Norris is today's Veteran of the Day.

On his 80th birthday, today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Air Force Veteran Chuck Norris, who served as air police before becoming a karate champion and movie star.

Carlos “Chuck” Norris was born March 10, 1940, in Ryan, Oklahoma. Norris enlisted in the Air Force in 1958 after graduating high school. He joined as an air policeman and hoped to train as security police. The Air Force stationed Norris at Osan Air Base in South Korea. It was there that a fellow airman gave him the nickname “Chuck.”

Osan Air Base is also where Norris picked up his martial arts skills and earned a black belt in Tang Soo Do, a form of Korean karate. Norris trained with Grandmaster Jae Chul Shin, founder of the World Tang Soo Do Association, as well as Grandmaster Do Sik Mun. After his service in South Korea, Norris served at March Air Force Base, now March Air Reserve Base, in Riverside County, California. He continued to serve as an air policeman until his discharge from service in August 1962 at the rank of airman first class.

Following his military service, Norris applied to be a police officer but ended up on the waiting list. While he waited, Norris decided to open a martial arts studio in his town of Torrance, California, which led to his opening a chain of studios. He started to enter martial arts competitions. After several years, he won his first World Middleweight Karate Championship title in 1968. Norris held the title of Karate World Champion for six consecutive years and retired after his victory in 1974.

It was during this time that Norris met Bruce Lee, which led to Norris’ breakout role as Lee’s nemesis in the 1972 film Return of the Dragon, roundhouse kicking him into stardom. Norris went on for several decades to star in action movies and television shows like Walker, Texas Ranger and The Delta Force. He also still appears in advertisements.

Norris’s brother, Wieland Norris, was killed in action during the Vietnam War. Norris dedicated 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, Commandant Gen. James T. Conway made Norris an honorary United States Marine. In 2011, Governor Rick Perry named Norris an honorary Texas Ranger.

Happy 80th birthday, Chuck. Do you still blow out your birthday candles with a roundhouse kick?

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Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to with as much information as you can put together, along with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.


Writer: Mackenzie Knight 

Editor: Kelly Dooley

Fact checker: Kat Blanchard

Graphic artist: Adam Stump

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Published on Mar. 10, 2020

Estimated reading time is 2.6 min.

Views to date: 1,502


  1. Stu Ziegler March 24, 2020 at 12:58 am

    Thank you for your service and all the great work you have done related to your martial arts and movie career, hope you had a wonderful birthday

  2. Roger Carrasco March 17, 2020 at 6:50 pm

    Chuck norris proud to call u brother in arms. Im a Viet-Nam era vet. Served71-74 82nd lost a brother also in 67’ Nam. Thank u for ur svc and all your great movies troughout the yrs. your fan always!!! AATW. ROGER

  3. Mark Hine March 12, 2020 at 12:02 am

    1st off, happy birthday chuck. Thank you for your service and for the many decades of helping kids and whoever you were able to help. Also thank you for many film n tv roles that were very enjoyable to watch. As for the lone detractor who thinks you arent a beteran…dont let that goof steal your vet joy brother. Anyone who served or is serving now is or will become someday a veteran of military service. If you come out with an honorable discharge you should be held to a higher standing because you, or more correctly those after the draft era, chose to defend your country. Be proud always of that. All respect to you and God bless

  4. Dale Holley March 11, 2020 at 9:20 pm


    A Veteran is a veteran, 180 days on and out, wether
    Deployed or not time in service counts.
    Not all service members are or do go to War,
    Some served in Support personnel or type units
    To include the training schools for future soldiers
    and gaining units.
    These personnel are valuable to all branches of
    the services. They resupplied unit intransit and
    units returning.
    My own experiences are with wartime units but
    Having been in training with others and found the
    Experience helpful in related situations.

    My question to you, is your sources, with War or
    Just because you say so? Your source wasn’t

  5. Buck Norris March 11, 2020 at 2:59 pm

    I’ve been a fan of yours my whole life.Way of the dragon, lone wolf McQuade and silent rage were my favorites.I wish we had action stars like you today nowadays they are all wimps.Love and respect from Alberta Chuck.

  6. Joe Mendez March 11, 2020 at 11:37 am

    Thank You Chuck for your service in the military and on the screen! Happy 80th – we have watched you be a mentor to many by your dedication to whatever you set your hands to do, especially your faith to God. I’m a Vietnam ‘Vet’ serving the latter part of the War (71-72) willing to give my life for this country as a 20 year old. Your brother and you are owed a ton of gratitude for doing what others would it could not do. ‘ALL GAVE SOME – SOME GAVE ALL’ – have a Blessed day. Semper Fi in Christ Joe M.

  7. Janis Maliga March 11, 2020 at 12:21 am

    Thank you Chuck for serving our country. I wish you a Happy Birthday. My husband our fans of your acting career and faith in God. God Bless You and your family. Live a long life Chuck.

  8. Helena Lewis March 10, 2020 at 7:46 pm

    I appreciate that you’re trying to acknowledge those who have served but please be more accurate when using the term Veteran. There are only 2 ways you can earn Veteran status: 1) You serve 20 or more years in the military or 2) You get combat deployed for 6 months or more. Everyone else is referred to as Prior Service Member. Please stop referring to PSM’s as Veterans as this invalidates and disrespects those of us who have earned that status. The VA may allow PSM’s to access Veterans benefits after 6 years of service but accessing Veterans benefits does NOT make them a Veteran. Please be more careful and accurate with the terminology you use.

    [Editor: This is damaging and incorrect. 38 United States Code has more details: ]

    • Jimmy S Simmons March 11, 2020 at 10:31 am

      Did you read the editors note?????? It tells you where to go, to define who is a veteran.its not what you stated.

  9. Senior Veterans Care Network March 10, 2020 at 11:36 am

    Thank you for your service Carlos “Chuck” Norris, and, we honor the service of your brother Wieland Norris.

Comments are closed.

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