Tuesday, August 4, 2015


In 1956, Elvis Presley turned 21 years old making him eligible for the draft. Over the next year his manager Col. Tom Parker tried to secure a shorter training and a less demanding position for Elvis in the military. On January 4, 1957 Elvis reported to the Kennedy Veterans Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee for his pre-induction Army medical. He was declared fit and would likely be drafted in the next eight months. On December 16 it was announced he had received his official draft letter.

Elvis was inducted into the United States Army on March 24, 1958.
Elvis immediately was sent to Fort Chaffee Arkansas. He spent four days there before being sent to Fort Hood Texas. He was assigned to A Company of the Second Armored Division's Tank Battalion. During his time at Fort Hood his mother's health had declined. His mother Gladys had increased her alcohol intake and was taking diet pills to lose weight. Her diet was also very poor and this caused her liver to deteriorate. His parents has accompanied Elvis to Texas and were living close to the base. On August 8th, they returned to Memphis due to his mother's poor health. Elvis knew that he needed to follow them and requested emergency leave. He left for Memphis on August 12 and on August 14 Gladys died from a heart attack.
Elvis and his father Vernon were devastated by the loss. He was granted 5 days of leave for the funeral and had to return to Fort Hood on August 18. When he returned to Fort Hood he finished his tank training and was assigned to the 3rd Armored Division in Friedberg, West Germany. He arrived in Germany October 1, 1958 and was soon granted permission to live off base. During this time, his manager Col. Parker was slowly releasing pre-recorded music so that the American public wouldn't forget Elvis while he was away serving his country. Elvis and the Colonel wrote letters nearly on a daily basis to each other.

During his time in Germany he met many people who would stay in his life for years to come such as fellow army buddies Charlie Hodge and Joe Esposito. He would also meet his future wife Priscilla. Elvis got promoted while in Germany to the rank of Sergeant. He would travel to Paris and Munich while living overseas. While he didn't exactly like being in the army, he did endure it. On March 2, 1960 Elvis was able to leave Germany and come back to the United States. On March 5, 1960 he was officially discharged from the Army. He was welcomed with snow and a large gathering of fans.
Elvis was happy to be a private citizen once again. He was also happy to return back to his life of recording music and get involved in motion pictures. He gave a press conference shortly after returning and conveyed that information. He was ready to get back to business!


Mattie @ Northwest Native said...

I didn't know any of this! This was fascinating to read. My mom was so in love with Elvis when she was a kid. It's funny to think about her like that.

Sara Strand said...

OK, I knew he was in the Army, I always assumed he signed up but didn't go anywhere. So this was actually pretty fascinating!