Elvis Aaron Presley
Branch: United States Army
Time Enlisted: 1958-60
Location: Fort Hood
SOF Unit: 3rd US Armored Division SSI.svg Company A, 1st Medium Tank Battalion, 32nd Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Division
Medals: Good Conduct
Status: Deceased 1977
In January 1956, Presley turned twenty-one years old. Like most American men of that age, he was now eligible to be drafted. Colonel Tom Parker, Presley's manager, was well aware of his client's draft status and how it could affect his career. In the summer of 1956, Parker wrote to the Pentagon requesting that Elvis be considered for Special Services. Special Services would allow Elvis to do only six weeks basic training and then resume life as normal with the exception of performing several times a year for the armed forces. However, Parker had no intentions of allowing his client to ever sign up for Special Services. Special Services would require Presley to perform for free, with each performance being recorded and filmed for sale to television stations throughout the world. Only the armed forces would profit from these recordings, and Parker was in no way willing to allow anyone, even "Uncle Sam", to enjoy Presley's talents for free. Over the course of the next twelve months Parker led Presley to believe that it was still possible to avoid the draft completely. Unknown to Presley, Parker had no intentions of avoiding the draft. In his eyes, after a year of some negative publicity about Presley, this was the perfect opportunity to change the view that older America had of him. Parker explained to Presley that this was a great situation, one that neither of them could refuse. When Elvis was told that he would have to serve as a regular soldier he was furious; how could his manager, the man who had claimed to be able to do anything, not be able to find a way out of the draft? Parker promised Presley that if he worked hard, kept his nose clean, and served as a regular GI for two years, he would return "a bigger star" than when he left. On January 4, 1957, Presley attended Kennedy Veterans Hospital in Memphis for a pre-induction Army medical. On January 8, Presley'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 Presley would be receiving his draft notice. While fans around the country were upset about the news, parents and teachers groups were ecstatic. Presley 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 Presley's closest friends. They also offered him the chance to perform in Las Vegas, and have his own private quarters. The Army offered Presley the chance to tour the world and visit Army bases to boost morale among soldiers and encourage other young men to enlist. Presley politely told both parties that he would consider their offers. The Pentagon, too, had been in touch to offer Presley 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, Presley decided to join up as a regular soldier. In Parker's words, "Taking any of these deals will make millions of Americans angry".
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