From 1958-1960, Elvis Presley had to pause his music and movie career to serve two years in the US army over in West Germany. While in the military, The King rose to the rank of Sergeant and now a fellow soldier has shared how he bonded with the star during a chance meeting. Deryl Saylors of Mississippi, the state just south of Elvis’ Tennessee home, volunteered into the army draft in February 1958 with a couple of friends.
After going through training at Fort Chaffe in Arkansas and Fort Hood, Texas, Deryl and his pals were shipped out to West Germany.
Part of the US 3rd Armored Division, he wasn’t far from where Elvis was stationed and spent some time at a training area in the mountains by Grafenwöhr
Speaking with Elvis expert Billy Stallings Spa Guy in the video below, the veteran couldn’t quite remember if it was the winter of 1958 or early spring 1959 when he was there for a training mission over four to six weeks.
Nevertheless, it was Deryl’s job to drive an officer to the post office, where a group of the higher ranking soldiers would have coffee in the warmth while he and other GIs had to wait outside in the cold.
They shook hands and when Deryl said he was from Booneville, Mississippi, he said “it was just like two old friends had met”
The pair of soldiers talked for around 15 minutes and bonded over their connections, with Elvis saying how he’d played two shows in Booneville, so knew it well.
The veteran added: “It was just a great experience and I’ve always been glad that I got to know him just a little bit better.”
During Elvis’ two years in the army over in Germany, he met his future wife Priscilla Beaulieu, who he would go to marry in 1967.
As part of The King’s 85th birthday celebrations last year at Graceland, Priscilla said of Elvis: “He was a perfect soldier, but heavy on his heart was coming back and not thinking he’d be accepted again.
“Heading back to Graceland was strange for him. It was what he always wanted, he wanted to get back there, but things were changing. And it did change, it did change.”
“He had the doors open for fans to come in, when he first bought Graceland. He was just so innocent and so young and carrying such heavy burdens at such a young age. [He went back] in fear of…change. Is he going to be able to keep it? Is he going to be able to afford all the things he was just getting into before the army?”
Luckily, The King went on to star in more Hollywood movies before rebooting his singing career with his 1968 Comeback Special.