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The date was January 8, 1956 when legendary singer/songwriter Elvis Presley turned 21 and came to the profound realization that his life could change forever. It was then that he became eligible for the draft, and he was drafted not long after. Presley’s manager “Colonel” Tom Parker was well aware of how this could affect his already successful music career. Parker actually wrote to the Pentagon pleading for Presley to only be considered for Special Services which would only require him to complete six weeks of basic training and make it so that his only duty would be to perform several times a year for the military.
With all of this mind, Presley was eventually drafted and had no intention of joining the Special Services. When drafted, he opted to become a ‘regular soldier’. The official notice of his draft came December 16, 1957 via the Memphis Draft Board.
Presley was sworn into the U.S. Army at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, March 24, 1958 with the physical and assigned Army serial number 53310761.
Presley faced many hardships during his time both in training and in service. Just a few months after being transferred to Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas, he was told that his mother had passed away. His request to visit his mother after several emergency calls from her doctor were denied several times and he had even threatened to go AWOL. He was eventually allowed visit his mother. He was also allowed to attend the funeral service and actually collapsed several times before and during the service.
Bill Norwood, an instructor of Presley’s, often allowed him to use his phone to call home and he recalls Presley often breaking down in tears doing so.
On January 20, 1960, towards the end of his service, Presley was promoted to sergeant. He also became a pistol sharpshooter. All of this went against of fans and critics alike. You may ask yourself how he was able to stay motivated during all of these hardships. During a press conference just before his discharge, he was asked about this and why he ultimately chose to become a ‘regular soldier’ as opposed to joining the Special Services and 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”.
Even with the option to join the Special Services, Presley did what most of us probably wouldn’t do and became a regular soldier. If this doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will…
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