Today in History March 5th 1960
Elvis comes Home from the Army
On January 4, 1957, Elvis attended Kennedy Veterans Hospital in Memphis for a pre-induction army medical.
On January 8, Elvis's twenty-second birthday, he was declared 1-A by the Memphis Draft Board; physically fit and likely to be drafted some time in the next eight months. It was on December 16 that it was officially announced that Elvis would be receiving his draft notice. While fans around the country were upset about the news, parents and teachers groups were ecstatic. Elvis had been, in their opinion, a menace to society.
The navy offered to create a special Elvis Presley Company made up of men from Memphis and Elvis's closest friends. They also offered him the chance to perform in Las Vegas, and have his own private quarters. The army offered Elvis the chance to tour the world and visit army bases to boost morale among soldiers and encourage other young men to enlist. Elvis politely told both parties that he would consider their offers. The Pentagon, too, had been in touch to offer Elvis the opportunity to join Special Services, entertaining the troops without having to actually train as a regular soldier; among many soldiers and veterans it is known as "the celebrity wimp-out". After discussing each possibility with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis decided to join up as a regular soldier. In Parker's words,
"Taking any of these deals will make millions of Americans angry".
Elvis 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, Elvis 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 Elvis was receiving. According to Milton Bowers, head of the draft board and angered by the public outcry, Elvis "would have automatically gotten the extension [anyway] if he hadn't been Elvis Presley the superstar".
Elvis reported for his induction on March 24, 1958, a day dubbed "black Monday" for his fans by the press. Elvis was given a physical and assigned army serial number 53 310 761 before being sworn in and made leader of his group. Parker, with the permission of the army, had arranged for news crews from around the world to be on hand to report Elvis's entry into the army. After his final goodbyes to family and friends,
Elvis and his fellow recruits were taken by bus to Fort Chaffee, Arkansas
Elvis spent four days at Fort Chaffee before being transferred to Fort Hood in Texas. After being assigned to the A Company of the Second Armored Division's Tank Battalion, Elvis completed basic training by June. He had become a pistol sharpshooter, and expressed his enjoyment at the "rough and tumble" of the tanks obstacle course.
Elvis spent the majority of his hitch in Germany. During this time he lost his mother and met his future wife Priscilla.
He also gained the respect of those with whom he served.
On February 11, 1960 Elvis received his full Sergeant stripes. The army held a press conference on March 1 before Elvis departed from Germany. Elvis was asked about his decision to serve as a regular soldier instead of as part of the service club. He said, "I was in a funny position. Actually, that's the only way it could be. People were expecting me to mess up, to goof up in one way or another. They thought I couldn't take it and so forth, and I was determined to go to any limits to prove otherwise, not only to the people who were wondering, but to myself".
On March 2, with Priscilla in attendance, Elvis waved goodbye to the fans and media of Germany and flew home to the USA. In route his plane stopped at Prestwick Airport in Scotland to refuel; this was the one and only time that Elvis would set foot in the UK. On March 3 Elvis's plane arrived at McGuire Air Force Base near Fort Dix, New Jersey at 7.42am. Nancy Sinatra, RCA representatives, and Parker were all there to welcome him home, as well as a huge crowd of fans. Two days later, on March 5, Elvis was officially discharged from active duty.
Here is the official record os his service from th U.S. Army historical Military facts Site
Elvis Aron Presley entered the United States Army at Memphis, Tennessee, on March 24, 1958, and then spent three days at the Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, Reception Station. He left active duty at Fort Dix, New Jersey, on March 5, 1960, and received his discharge from the Army Reserve on March 23, 1964.
During his active military career Mr. Presley served as a member of two different armor battalions. Between March 28 and September 17, 1958, he belonged to Company A, 2d Medium Tank Battalion, 37th Armor, stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. During this assignment he completed basic and advanced military training.
Mr. Presley's overseas service took place in Germany from October 1, 1958, until March 2, 1960, as a member of the 1st Medium Tank Battalion, 32d Armor. For the first five days of that period he belonged to Company D of the battalion, and thereafter to the battalion's Headquarters Company at Friedberg.
While in Germany Mr. Presley wore the shoulder sleeve insignia of the 3d Armored Division.