Elvis in the Army

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On this day 60 years ago in 1957, while spending the Christmas holidays at Graceland, his newly purchased Tennessee mansion, rock-and-roll star Elvis Presley receives his draft notice for the United States Army.

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Presley was originally scheduled to be inducted on January 20, 1958. However, due to commitments at Paramount and the filming schedule of his latest film, King Creole, Presley had to personally write to the Memphis Draft Board to request a deferment. He explained to them that Paramount had already spent up to $350,000 on pre-production of the film, and that many jobs were dependent on him being able to complete filming, which was due to begin on January 13. They granted him an extension until the middle of March. When news of the extension broke, angry letters were sent to the Memphis Draft Board complaining about the “special treatment” that Presley was receiving. According to Milton Bowers, head of the draft board and angered by the public outcry, Presley “would have automatically gotten the extension [anyway] if he hadn’t been Elvis Presley the superstar”

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After six months of basic training–including an emergency leave to see his beloved mother, Gladys, before she died in August 1958–Presley sailed to Europe on the USS General Randall. For the next 18 months, he served in Company D, 32nd Tank Battalion, 3rd Armor Corps in Friedberg, Germany, where he attained the rank of sergeant.

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One thought on “Elvis in the Army

  1. I was at his ship as it pulled out of port for Germany. I didn’t know Elvis was on it at the time, I was waving to my godfather’s son, who was like a big brother to me.

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