Today in Texas History – March 28

From the Annals of the Army (sort of) –  In 1958, recently drafted rock and roll star Elvis Presley arrived at Fort Hood for basic training.  He remained stationed at Fort Hood for six months.   Presley, along with his manager and illegal alien Col. Tom Parker, made the decision that Elvis would serve as a regular soldier and not as an entertainer in Special Services.  Parker did not want Presley performing for free and both decided it would be good for image to not receive special treatment.   At Fort Hood, Presley was assigned to Company A of the Third Armored Division’s 1st Medium Tank Battalion and completed basic training by June. He was a pistol sharpshooter, and apparently liked the  “rough and tumble” of the tanks obstacle course.  He was homesick and did not like the training and was constantly worried about his career.

After a short break to record new material in June, Presley returned to Fort Hood to finish his tank training.  Soldiers were allowed to live off-post with family, so Elvis rented a house where he lived with his mother, father, grandmother, and friend Lamar Fike.   This cheered up the star, but in early August, his mother Gladys began to succumb to her alcoholism and use of diet pills. One afternoon, after a heated argument with her husband Vernon, Gladys collapsed from exhaustion. Presley arranged for her and Vernon to return to Memphis by train on August 8. She died in Memphis on August 14.  Elvis was granted emergency leave and was in Memphis when she passed.  He returned to Fort Hood about a week later and shipped out for duty in Germany in mid-September.

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