(Pictured: Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, George Jones, George Strait, Roger Miller)
As we celebrate the veterans who have served our country this Veterans Day Weekend, here is a salute to the country music heroes who have brought us some of the best music and have served their country with honor.
By the time Elvis Presley was drafted into the military in 1958, he was already a heart-throb rock and roll singer and known the world over for his music. Elvis was given the opportunity to enlist in Special Services in the U.S. Army and entertain the troops and live in priority housing. Elvis declined. He enlisted as a regular soldier and was stationed in Germany from March of 1958 to March of 1960. Many music historians believe that Elvis’ service in the military caused older adults to accept his music which led to many ballads and his later country music career.
Johnny Cash served in the U.S. Air Force for four years from 1950 – 1954. Cash was assigned to the 12th Radio Squadron Mobile of the U.S. Air Force Security Service in Germany. He spent his military career intercepting transmissions from the Soviets as a Morse Code operator. He was honorably discharged on July 3, 1954 as a staff sergeant. It was in during his military career that Cash honed his songwriting skills and formed his first band.
Willie Nelson served in the U.S. Air Force before being medically discharged due to a back problem. Willie, known for his outspoken views on personal liberty, said ““I was in the Air Force a while and they had what they call “policing the area.” That’s where you looked around and if there’s anything wrong here, there, anywhere, you took care of your own area. And I think that’s a pretty good thing to go by. If everyone just takes care of their own area then we won’t have any problems. Be here. Be present. Wherever you are, be there. And look around you and see what needs to be changed.”
George Jones voluntarily joined the U.S. Marines and served during the Korean War. However, he was never sent overseas, instead finding himself stationed in San Jose, California, where he was known to perform in local establishments near the military base. He completed his military service in 1953.
George Strait was enlisted in the Army from 1971 to 1975, stationed in Hawaii for the later half of his career as part of the 25th Infantry Division. He performed in an army-sanctioned country band called “Rambling Country.
Roger Miller joined the military after stealing a guitar at the age of 17. He was given the choice of the military or going to jail. Miller enlisted in the army and served honorably during the Korean War.
Other country music legends that have served in the military include Kris Kristofferson, Charlie Louvin, Josh Gracin, Jamey Johnson, Johnny Paycheck, Faron Young, Craig Morgan, Marty Robbins and Earl Thomas Conley.