On March 24, 1958, 23-year-old Elvis Presley was inducted into the U.S. Army.
Elvis, like other young men, had registered for the draft when he turned 18. Then, despite his ensuing fame, he was declared eligible for induction in January 1957, with his draft notice arriving that December. Though he was supposed to report to the Army in January 1958, Elvis was granted a deferment until March so he could finish his current film, King Creole.
Elvis was processed into the Army on March 24, 1958, at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, surrounded by family, friends, and a sea of reporters. The singer entered regular Army service as a private, rather than joining Special Services, in which he would have entertained troops. Elvis was sent to Fort Hood, Texas, for basic training and was assigned to the 2nd Armored Division. While he was at Fort Hood, his mother, with whom he was very close, became seriously ill. Elvis was granted emergency leave, and he was able to make it to her bedside before she passed away in August.
With his training complete, in September Elvis was assigned to the 3rd Armored Division and was sent to Germany. There, Elvis apparently served dutifully and well as a driver, despite the constant media attention and fledgling amphetamine abuse.
It was while he was serving in Germany that he met 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu, whom he would later marry. Elvis achieved the rank of sergeant in February 1960, and a month later, on March 5, he was honorably discharged from active duty at the age of 25.
While Elvis had been busy with the Army, his manager, Tom Parker, had been busy keeping the singer’s career rolling. Over the two years of Elvis’s service, Parker released songs that had been recorded before the singer left. Less than a month after returning home, Elvis recorded a new album and a single, “Stuck on You,” which hit number one on the charts the following month. Despite his fear that his fans would leave him in his two-year absence, Elvis was back in business.
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