Sergeant Presley: Photographs of Elvis’ Time with the Army

During the peak of his career in 1958, “The King of Rock ‘N’ Roll” traded in his blue suede shoes for a pair of U.S. Government-issued combat boots.

Image of Sgt. Presley answering questions for the press during his last press conference in Friedberg, Germany before returning to the U. S. and civilian life. March 1, 1960. Local ID: 111-SC-570995
Sgt. Presley answering questions for the press during his last press conference in Friedberg, Germany before returning to the U. S. and civilian life. March 1, 1960. Local ID: 111-SC-570995

Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977) is widely known for his extraordinary music, performance style, acting career, and worldwide fame. In 1960, however, he was known in the United States Army as Sergeant Presley.

Here in the Still Picture Branch at the National Archives, we have a handful of photographs within our holdings that show a glimpse into Elvis’ time with the military.

On March 24, 1958, Elvis was inducted into the United States Army at the Memphis Draft Board in Tennessee. He arrived at Fort Hood, Texas on March 28, 1958 for Basic Training, where he was stationed for six months.

On October 1st later that year, he was assigned to the 1st Medium Tank Battalion, 32nd Armored Regiment, 3rd Armored Division and stationed for the next 18 months in Friedberg, West Germany. It was in West Germany where Elvis met his future wife, Priscilla Ann Beaulieu, at a house party he hosted.

On January 20, 1960, Elvis was promoted to Sergeant, received his sergeant’s stripes on February 11, and less than a month later, was officially discharged from active duty. It was at Fort Dix, New Jersey on March 5, 1960 where he received his separation from active duty and final pay – and a gift from Miss Nancy Sinatra, the daughter of Frank Sinatra!

Original Caption: Returning from day’s reconnaissance mission, Sgt. Elvis Presley of the US Army’s 3rd Armored Div, unloads gear, ready to be down in the field. Set Presley, with other members of the Spearhead Div, took part in the field Training exercise Winter Shield, Bavaria, West Germany. 1960. Local ID: 111-SC-572303
Sgt. Presley being interviewed by SP-4 David H. Murdock, 69th Signal Corps during his last press conference in Friedberg, Germany before returning to the U. S. and civilian life. March 1, 1960. Local ID: 111-SC-570996
Sgt. Elvis Presley, rock & roll singer, TV & Movies, receives a gift from Miss Nancy Sinatra, daughter of Frank Sinatra, singer and movie actor, at a press conference held by Sgt Presley in Service Club #1. Sgt Presley was separated from the US Army today here at Fort Dix. 5 March 1960. Local ID: 111-SC-572841

Sgt. Elvis Presley, rock & roll singer, TV & Movies, after receiving his final Pay and separation from active duty in the US Army, at Fort Dix Separation Center. 5 March 1960. Local ID: 111-SC-572840

Interested in seeing more Elvis-related content? You can view the Official Military Personnel File for Elvis Aron Presley that is available online in the National Archives Catalog, which includes his service documents, correspondence, and medical records. You can also check out a previous blog post from The Unwritten Record: Summer Road Trip 2019: Memphis and New Orleans that includes photographs of the Graceland Mansion!

Sources

The photographs included within this post are can be found in the Army Signal Corps series, 111-SC and have no known copyright restrictions. If you have any questions about the images in this post or the holdings of the Still Picture Branch, please contact us at stillpix@nara.gov.

PUBLICATION OF PHOTOGRAPHS FURNISHED BY THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES STILL PICTURE BRANCH-RRSS

Generally, copies of photographic records held by the National Archives may be published without special permission or additional fees. The National Archives does not grant exclusive or non-exclusive publication privileges. Copies of Federal records, as part of the public domain, are equally available to all. A small percentage of photographs in our holdings are or may be subject to copyright restrictions. The National Archives does not confirm the copyright status of photographs but will provide any information known about said status. It is the user’s responsibility to obtain all necessary clearances. Any use of these items is made at the researcher’s or purchaser’s own risk.

Proper credit lines are encouraged in the interest of good documentation. They also help inform the public about government photographic resources that are available.

*Because so many of our requests for information cite credits and captions that appear in published works, the inclusion of a photo number in hard copy and electronic publications is of great assistance to both us and the public.

Examples of preferred credit lines are as follows:

  • National Archives photo no. 210-G-C241
  • Credit National Archives (photo no. 83-G-41368)
  • Courtesy National Archives, photo no. 83-G-41430
  • National Archives (210-G-A14)

If using a large number of our images, the National Archives will appreciate receiving copies of publications that contain our photographs. Such copies can be sent to the Still Picture Branch or the Library, National Archives and Records Administration.

One thought on “Sergeant Presley: Photographs of Elvis’ Time with the Army

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.