Why Elvis Presley's Army career was remarkably unremarkable - We Are The Mighty
MUSIC

Why Elvis Presley’s Army career was remarkably unremarkable

There’s no doubt that if there were any American to have truly “lived the dream,” it was Elvis Presley. He was born into poverty and rose to stardom. His songs were omnipresent, his films were everywhere, and, on his 21st birthday, he became eligible for the draft.


On Mar. 24th, 1958, the day his fans would call “Black Monday,” Elvis Presley was sworn into the U.S. Army. He had all the power and money in the world and he became a regular ol’ Private, just like everyone else. He even gave up his beloved hair.

The Pentagon was well aware of his star power and offered him a role in the Special Service. Basically, he would have been free to continue his music career, receive special treatments, and, essentially, just wear a uniform as a formality. The Navy offered to create an “Elvis Presley company” and the Air Force wanted him to just tour recruiting centers.

But that’s not how The King rolled. Even though thousands of fans wrote to the Army asking for his release, he thought it would have been “unfair” if he got out in any way other than completing his two-year commitment. He became a cavalry scout and left for Friedberg, West Germany.

Why Elvis Presley’s Army career was remarkably unremarkable
You know, just a regular Cav Scout… with 50 million fans. (Photo by Mark Holloway)

That’s the most beautiful thing about The King of Rock and Roll’s service. He trained just as hard as everyone else. He qualified as an expert with his rifle. He took up karate classes to pass the time, which later became a life long hobby. He even donated his Army pay to charities while using his rock-star money on the men in his unit.

Presley made it very clear he was there to be a soldier first. Towards the end of his career, they offered him a role in the film, G.I. Blues. It was essentially a musical comedy, starring Elvis, that told the story of his joining the Army. Paramount came all the way out to Friedberg with hopes that they’d get some “on location” shots of Presley, but he wouldn’t be discharged for another few months. So, his stunt double took his place for all the scenes that were shot in Germany.

Why Elvis Presley’s Army career was remarkably unremarkable
Hail to the king, baby! (Courtesy Photo)

Sgt. Presley made a lifelong friend in fellow soldier, Charlie Hodge. Hodge had been a small-time musician before his service (nowhere near the levels of fame of Elvis enjoyed in his prime). When Elvis left the service in 1960, Hodges came with him. Hodges was one of the few friends Presley could count on and became a key member of the Memphis Mafia and the TCB until Elvis’ passing in 1977.

MUSIC

This Marine rapper spits lyrics that veterans know all too well

If you’ve ever surfed the internet looking for military rap songs, chances are you’ve come across the unique sound of “The Marine Rapper.”


Known for sporting a red mohawk and wearing an American flag bandana, TMR served 10 years in the Marine Corps as a Combat Correspondent where he earned a Combat Action Ribbon and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals during his service.

After successful tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, TMR left the Marine Corps in February 2014. After entering back into civilian life, TMR began focusing on music as a profession and for cathartic expression.

 

Why Elvis Presley’s Army career was remarkably unremarkable
TMR has performed and hosted numerous live shows from Los Angeles to San Diego. (Source: The Marine Rapper)

 

Related: This incredible rap song perfectly captures life in Marine Corps infantry

Since then, TMR’s music has been featured on the Range 15 Movie Soundtrack, the Oscar Mike TV series on Go90 network, and Apple Music.

“Star-Spangled Banger has many meanings,” TMR tells WATM. “It is a new Star-Spangled Banner, it is my moniker and a way of saying veterans made a banger.”

TMR’s music recounts personal war stories over hip-hop and rock inspired beats. He strives to motivate others and to use his rhythmic talents to immortalize his fallen brothers and sisters through music.

Check out The Marine Rapper‘s music video to watch “Star-Spangled Bangar” for yourself.

(YouTube, The Marine Rapper)

MUSIC

Listen to the playlist that ousted a dictator

The death of former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega brings back memories of the dictator’s last hours of freedom. U.S. special operators tried to force his surrender using loud rock music — music now gathered together on two handy Spotify playlists.


Noriega was ousted by Operation Just Cause, the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama. But before he was captured by American troops, he took asylum in the Panamanian location of the Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See — a diplomatic mission of the Vatican.

 

Why Elvis Presley’s Army career was remarkably unremarkable
Gen. Manuel Noriega is escorted onto a U.S. Air Force aircraft by agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The former Panamanian leader will be flown to the United States, where he will be held for trial on drug charges. (DoD Photo)

Instead of storming a building owned by a neutral, noncombatant foreign power, the Navy SEALs and Delta Force operators developed Operation Nifty Package. It was a psyops mission, designed to force Noriega to rescind his right of asylum in the Vatican-owned Embassy.

When Pope John Paul II refused to comment on the incident and the Papal Nuncio wouldn’t force the dictator to leave, the U.S. Army Psychological Operations Command began to blare a “Rock n’ Roll Assault on Noriega…for three full days.

Noriega was captured and sent to Miami where he was sentenced to 30 years in prison for drug and money laundering charges. He was extradited to France in 2010 to stand trial for money laundering there. Noriega was then extradited to Panama the next year to finish his sentences for the disappearances of political prisoners in the 1980s.

He died of a brain tumor in May 2017.

You can read the entire list of music from a FOIA request made by The George Washington University.

MUSIC

6 ways Chester Bennington championed our troops

On July 20, 2017, the veteran community lost a valuable advocate in Chester Bennington, lead singer and front man of Linkin Park. Not only do his lyrics resonate deeply within the veteran community, he was a loud supporter of the U.S. troops.


To commemorate the life and support of Chester, let us never forget the acts of a true patriot.

1. He was a friend of Paul Rieckhoff, Founder and CEO of IAVA

 

2. He joined many celebrities on the “Convoy to Combat Suicide” tour

Along with Lady Gaga, Korn, Avenged Sevenfold, Cale Conley, and many MLB teams, the goals of the tour were to pass the Clay Hunt SAV Act, getting President Obama to take Executive action in this effort, and to connect over a million post-9/11 veterans with transitional resources.

 

Why Elvis Presley’s Army career was remarkably unremarkable
Chester talking in front of a San Diego crowd. (Photo via YouTube Screengrab)

3. His vocal support of the Clay Hunt SUV Act worked

On Feb. 12, 2015, President Obama signed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act into law. The bill not only broadens VA and third-party support for veterans, but also extends combat veterans’ eligibility for VA hospital care for one year.

(The Obama White House, YouTube)

4. The song “Wastelands” is dedicated to the troops

In addition to being a dedication by Linkin Park, the music video features many photos of our men and women in uniform.

[dailymotion //www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/x3nxjh6 expand=1]

Real Time With Bill Maher: Backstage Pass… by fatimagale

Fellow Linkin Park band member Mike Shinoda said to Military Times, “Our effort to help soldiers is a humanitarian one, about people. I hope the veterans feel our deep gratitude for their service and hope our efforts help give them the support they need to re-establish their lives.”

(IAVAVids, YouTube)

5. Every stop on the “Carnivores” tour, he would give a shout out to the troops

In Linkin Park’s 2014 tour, Chester would take a moment to thank the troops and veterans in attendance. He would address the audience about veteran suicide in a somber tone. He encourages the crowds to join in with him for all the troops do for the country.

During the tour, Linkin Park flies twenty two flags, each flag symbolizing the Veterans Affairs Department’s estimate for daily suicide among veterans.

(Quan Nguyen, YouTube)

6. He truly cared and took his time to speak to veterans who approached him

Chester Bennington would always make time for his fans, especially his military fans. Many times, he would allow the veterans to just vent directly to him.

Why Elvis Presley’s Army career was remarkably unremarkable
(Photo via Twitter)

Writer’s Note: He was a great man and a voice of my generation. Personally, his music helped me get through the rough times of my teenage years.

As a soldier, Linkin Park was always on my playlist. Going through my divorce in Afghanistan, it was the music that truly felt like someone else knew what was going on in my life.

Now, as a veteran, it breaks my heart knowing that a man that gave his all to prevent veteran suicide ended his own life.

An estimated 40% of all Post 9/11 veterans know a veteran who ended their life and 47% know someone who attempted. The burden of suicide isn’t just on the shoulders of one person.

We need to stand together. Friend to friend. Comrade to comrade. Veteran to veteran.

Be there for the people who swore to always have your back.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Vote for MISSION: MUSIC Finalist Home Bru

UPDATE: THE VOTING IS NOW CLOSED AND THE WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON MONDAY, SEPT. 25, 2017 AT WE ARE THE MIGHTY!

Welcome to the finals for Mission: Music, where veterans from all five branches compete for a chance to perform onstage at Base*FEST powered by USAA. CLICK THE BUTTON BELOW TO VOTE every day to determine the winner!

Home Bru is a North Carolina based band comprised of husband-and-wife Matt Brunoehler (guitar/banjo/vocals) and Chelsea Brunoehler (bass/vocalist), and whenever possible, drummer/vocalist Zac Bowers and pianist Wryan Webb.


Why Elvis Presley’s Army career was remarkably unremarkable
From left to right: Matthew Brunoehler (USMC), Chelsea Brunoehler (USN, USCG)

Matt and Chelsea started singing together in the U.S. Naval Academy Glee Club in 2003, and they have started bands everywhere they’ve been stationed ever since (even when they were separated!). In February 2016, they started Home Bru in North Carolina, and the band has been featured at various local events since. They primarily concentrate on covers of favorite Rock, Country, Pop, and Blues tunes, but they’ve recently been adding originals to their repertoire.

“Music tells our story,” says Chelsea. “Forming a band in each city we’ve lived has introduced us to our closest friends—our military family. We are fortunate to share music as a couple. It keeps us connected, even when separated by military obligations.”

Return to the voting page and check out the other finalists!

For every vote, USAA will donate $1 (up to $10k) to Guitars for Vets, a non-profit organization that enhances lives of ailing and injured military veterans by providing them with guitars and a forum to learn how to play. Your votes help those who served rediscover their joy through the power of music!

Why Elvis Presley’s Army career was remarkably unremarkable
Articles

Katy Perry’s USMC Recruiting Video

Bad breakup, lady? Skip ‘Sex and the City’ marathons in your jammies and gal pal ex-bashing wine parties. Wanna forget that jerk in a hurry? Join the Corps!


This KP video (see what we did there?) was shot in 2012 at Camp Pendleton with official Marine Corps blessing, which makes it either a stroke of recruiting genius or a huge waste of taxpayer dollars.

Watch and decide:

Articles

That time Civil War soldiers stopped fighting and played music for one another

A few weeks after the bloody battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863, an odd event took place at the front lines of the Civil War armies camped on the Rappahannock River in Virginia. The two sides — camped approximately a mile from one another — engaged in a battle of the bands.


Why Elvis Presley’s Army career was remarkably unremarkable
A Union band in the Civil War poses for a photo. (Photo: CC BY-SA Jcusano)

According to University of Virginia Professor Dr. Gary W. Gallagher in his Great Courses lecture series on the war, the concert was begun by a Union band on one side of the field who played a patriotic northern song, likely “Yankee Doodle” or “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Just after they finished playing, the Confederate band opened with the song “Dixie.”

The two bands then continued playing songs for one another throughout the early hours of the night, until the Union band started playing “Home on the Range,” a song popular in both Union and Confederate camps throughout the war.

The Confederate band joined in during the song, and soldiers from each side sang along.

The entire event was captured in a poem “Music in Camp” by John Reuben Thomas.

Why Elvis Presley’s Army career was remarkably unremarkable
Thure de Thulstrup’s Battle of Gettysburg, showing Pickett’s Charge. (Scan: Library of Congress)

Like the later Christmas Truce of World War I, the peace between the warring sides was short-lived. The Civil War would rage for almost two more years before its official end in May 1865. Indeed, the bloodiest battle of the war, Gettysburg, would take place just a few short weeks after the impromptu concert.

Articles

Was John Lennon a military wannabe?

Thirty-five years ago today John Lennon was murdered by Mark David Chapman — an avid Beatles fan — in the entryway of the Dakota apartments located in New York City’s Upper Westside.  In tribute social media is lighting up with interpretations of Lennon’s message of peace that came in various forms during his artistic career, most famously in his songs “Imagine” and “War is Over (if You Want It).”


But John Lennon was born in England in 1940, the early part of World War II.  His father was a merchant seaman, always gone on convoy runs, and — like the rest of his fellow countrymen, Lennon learned to hate the Luffewaffe and love the RAF as he watched airplanes fly overhead and heeded the wail of air raid sirens. He may have preached peace, but there’s no denying he understood the value of a strong national defense. His success was a product of it. Ironically enough, The Beatles honed their musical presentation — the one they would use to wow America on the Ed Sullivan Show a few years later — in the clubs of Hamburg, Germany, which had been a major industrial hub of the Third Reich a mere 17 years or so earlier.

There are several pieces of evidence of Lennon’s military inclinations.  When we was a teenager he was a member of the Air Training Corps (sort of a British version of the Civil Air Patrol) according to a report by NME.

In 1966 Lennon played the role of Private Gripweed in “How I Won the War,” directed by Lennon’s good friend Richard Lester:

The Beatles movie “Help” (also directed by Richard Lester) had a few references to warfare including an all out war scene in an open field involving British infantry and armored units.

Why Elvis Presley’s Army career was remarkably unremarkable
(GIF: Battle scene from the movie ‘Help!’)

And don’t forget the Lennon-penned Beatles’ song “Revolution,” that included the lyrics “when you talk about destruction, don’t you know that you can count me out . . . in.”

Articles

This playlist sounds like freedom

Maybe you’re fighting ISIS.


Maybe it’s time to crush it at the gym.

Or maybe someone just pissed you off.

Sometimes you just need an explicit playlist:

“The Double Tap Ensemble” is here for you, starting with Drowning Pool’s “Bodies” and ending with AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” it’s like metal and rock teamed up to personally get you through a bad day.

Oh, and it’s got Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.” Obviously.

Check out the full playlist on Spotify, and let us know what songs we should add.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How to get your own free ‘Space Force’ ringtone

If you’re in the military or are a veteran and haven’t heard about the Space Force yet, it’s time to climb out from under that rock you’ve been living in. There’s a sixth branch of the U.S. military now, and it’s going to be a department of the Air Force.

Why Elvis Presley’s Army career was remarkably unremarkable
The men’s department.

Although the Air Force has released very limited guidance on what the new branch will do, how it will roll out, or basically anything at all except that it’s called the ‘Space Force’ and will exist one day, the excitement the idea of a space force brings the military community is palpable.

Why Elvis Presley’s Army career was remarkably unremarkable
Judged solely by the sheer volume of Space Force memes.

Also Read: 5 boring details a Space Force private will get stuck on

So if you’re excited to do your part, you can fully engulf yourself in the burgeoning Space Force culture, you can now enjoy the first Space Force song, sure to be shouted at the top of many a Spaceman’s lungs every morning during Space-ic Training.

This songified version of President Trump’s Space Force announcement was created by The Gregory Brothers, whose YouTube page is packed with pop culture songification. Due to the popular demand for the song to be made into a ringtone via the popular Air Force Facebook page Air Force amn/nco/snco, the Gregory Brothers responded immediately.

Why Elvis Presley’s Army career was remarkably unremarkable
Thanks Air Force amn/nco/snco.

Check out: Why the name of the space-based branch should be Space Corps

Good luck getting this song out of your head now that it goes off every time your mom or dad calls you. You can get your free Space Force ringtone from The Gregory Brothers at their Patreon page.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The verdict is in: Veterans love their music

These veterans served in different branches and different conflicts, but one thing unites them — their love of music.


We Are The Mighty and USAA flew the Mission: Music finalists to the world-famous Ocean Way Studio in Nashville for a recording session where we took the opportunity to chat about the music that influenced them along the way.

U.S. Marine JP Guhns likened songs to little checkmarks — little memories — along his military career, while husband and wife duo Home Bru brought up how music connected them to their family.

“Talking about our grandparent’s generation and their service kind of inspires you to be a service member as well,” observed Chelsea, while Matt talked about the music that helped him when he missed home.

Air Force veteran Theresa Bowman cautions people not to underestimate her because of her stature — ACDC is on her list because she knows how to bring the dynamite.

Bobby Blackhat Walters brings the blues, which reminds him of the tough times and the good times.

Vote now for your favorite MISSION: MUSIC Finalist

Meanwhile, Steve Schneider of Jericho Hill related to Thrice’s “Stare at the Sun,” a tune about looking for something to believe in. Many veterans can relate to the feeling of questioning what they’re fighting for, and for this soldier, music helped him come up with an answer.

“There are days in the military where you might not have a whole lot to do, but they’re gonna find stuff for you to do,” laughed U.S. Navy veteran McClain Potter as he explained why “Everyday is Exactly The Same” from Nine Inch Nails is on his Battle Mix.

Check out the full Mission: Music Finalist Battle Mix on Spotify by clicking right here and don’t forget to vote for your favorite artist by clicking right here:

MUSIC

Listen to the US Army’s bluegrass cover band

Military members and veterans had a field day when they discovered the Air Force’s Max Impact Band and their highly produced music video but it turns out the Army has a few touring bands of its own – all part of the United States Army Field Band.


The Army fields a number of official touring bands, all comprised of active soldiers. But the members of the U.S. Army’s Field Band are considered “The Musical Ambassadors of the Army,” going around to play for civilians and military installations alike. The unit has four touring sub-bands: The Concert Band, The Soldiers’ Chorus, the Jazz Ambassadors, and the Six-String Soldiers — its bluegrass-country cover band.

The “Six-String Soldiers” were “The Volunteers” — a rock cover band — until a few short years ago; they now no longer perform rock music (but you can still listen to their old cover songs on their SoundCloud page).

Why Elvis Presley’s Army career was remarkably unremarkable
(U.S. Army photo)

The Volunteers seamlessly transitioned between rock, pop, and country music from all decades. The band was as old as the concept of an all-volunteer force, formed in 1981, just a few years after the draft disappeared from daily American life. Like most cover bands (presumably), The Volunteers wanted to one day perform their own original material for audiences. They never got the chance, but the Six String Soldiers keep their spirit alive and well.

These days you can find all of the Army’s versatile musical soldiers performing on military bases, at VA hospitals, music festivals, and special events. They aren’t limited to the military-veteran community – that’s the whole point of their mission. They want to reach out to the public and show the diversity and vast scope of the U.S. Army.

Give a listen to The Six-String Soldiers cover Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel” in the video below.

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