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Elvis Presley seen learning to fire rocket launcher during time in US Army

When he swapped his blue suede shoes for a pair of army boots, Elvis Presley was already a global music icon. 

The legendary singer served in the US Army from 1958 until 1960 and was posted in West Germany. 

Images released in a recent blog post on the website of the US National Archives show the Hound Dog artist during his time in the military. 

One shows him learning to fire a rocket launcher at Wildflecken, Germany, whilst another taken at the same base shows him aiming down the sight of a rifle.

A third shows the star receiving a gift from Nancy Sinatra – the daughter of fellow singer Frank Sinatra – on the day in March 1960 when he was discharged from active duty. 

Whilst serving in Germany, Elvis met his future wife Priscilla at a house party he hosted, whilst his mother Gladys died from a heart attack shortly before he left the US. 

When he swapped his blue suede shoes for a pair of army boots, Elvis Presley was already a global music icon. The legendary singer served in the US Army from 1958 until 1960 and was posted in West Germany. Above: Elvis undergoes training with the 3.5 rocket launcher at Wildflecken, Germany, October 1959

Images released in a recent blog post on the website of the US National Archives show the Hound Dog artist during his time in the military. Above: Elvis briefs his reconnaissance team before moving out toward their objective miles away. Listening to the explanation are fellow scouts of the US Army’s 3rd Armoured Division. They were participating in Winter Shield war games in Bavaria, West Germany, in 1960

Images released in a recent blog post on the website of the US National Archives show the Hound Dog artist during his time in the military. Above: Elvis briefs his reconnaissance team before moving out toward their objective miles away. Listening to the explanation are fellow scouts of the US Army’s 3rd Armoured Division. They were participating in Winter Shield war games in Bavaria, West Germany, in 1960

Elvis is seen aiming down the sight of a rifle during training at Wildflecken, West Germany, in October 1959. The star arrived in the country from the US that month

Elvis is seen aiming down the sight of a rifle during training at Wildflecken, West Germany, in October 1959. The star arrived in the country from the US that month

Elvis was inducted into the US Army in Tennessee in March 1958 at the age of 23, when he was already a major star in the US and around the world.

Like many other Americans of his age at the time, he was subject to the draft, which required him to serve in the military for two years. 

The star was offered the chance to serve in the Special Services – the unit that would have allowed him to do just six weeks of basic training and then perform regularly for troops. 

However, he opted to join the army as a regular soldier. He then underwent basic training at Fort Hood, Texas, where he was stationed for six months. 

After being assigned to the army’s 1st Medium Tank Battalion, 32nd Armored Regiment, 3rd Armored Division, in October 1958, Elvis was sent to Friedberg, West Germany, where he remained for the next six months. 

Elvis answering questions for the press during his last press conference in Friedberg, Germany, on March 1, 1960 before returning to the US and civilian life

Elvis answering questions for the press during his last press conference in Friedberg, Germany, on March 1, 1960 before returning to the US and civilian life

Elvis is seen checking a machine gun on the back of a jeep during a training exercise in Bavaria, West Germany, in 1960

Elvis is seen checking a machine gun on the back of a jeep during a training exercise in Bavaria, West Germany, in 1960

Elvis is seen unloading ear from the back of a truck after taking part in a training exercise. The singer is seen wearing his sergeant's stripes, which he received in February 1960

Elvis is seen unloading ear from the back of a truck after taking part in a training exercise. The singer is seen wearing his sergeant’s stripes, which he received in February 1960

Elvis is seen checking his unit's position on a map as he directs Jeep driver Private Lonnie Wolfe during an exercise in Bavaria, West Germany, in 1960

Elvis is seen checking his unit’s position on a map as he directs Jeep driver Private Lonnie Wolfe during an exercise in Bavaria, West Germany, in 1960

Elvis is seen heating up food with US and German comrades during the US Army's Winter Shield exercise in Bavaria, West Germany in 1960

Elvis is seen heating up food with US and German comrades during the US Army’s Winter Shield exercise in Bavaria, West Germany in 1960

Elvis is seen standing up in a Jeep and scanning the horizon for 'enemy' soldiers during the US Army's Winter Shield manoeuvres in 1960

Elvis is seen standing up in a Jeep and scanning the horizon for ‘enemy’ soldiers during the US Army’s Winter Shield manoeuvres in 1960

Elvis is seen above right with other members of the US Army as they examine maps on the bonnet of a Jeep in 1960

Elvis is seen above right with other members of the US Army as they examine maps on the bonnet of a Jeep in 1960

Elvis is seen looking over a map with two comrades before the men moved away in their Jeep. The image was taken during training at Gravenwohr, Germany, in February 1960

Elvis is seen looking over a map with two comrades before the men moved away in their Jeep. The image was taken during training at Gravenwohr, Germany, in February 1960

Elvis is seen centre coordinating with German soldiers during a reconnaissance training exercise in Bavaria, West Germany, in 1960

Elvis is seen centre coordinating with German soldiers during a reconnaissance training exercise in Bavaria, West Germany, in 1960

Elvis checks over the front of a Jeep with a comrade during the US Army's Winter Shield Exercise in Bavaria, West Germany, in 1960

Elvis checks over the front of a Jeep with a comrade during the US Army’s Winter Shield Exercise in Bavaria, West Germany, in 1960

On the day he was discharged from active duty, on March 5, 1960, Elvis received a gift from Nancy Sinatra, the daughter of fellow singer Frank Sinatra

On the day he was discharged from active duty, on March 5, 1960, Elvis received a gift from Nancy Sinatra, the daughter of fellow singer Frank Sinatra

Concerned that his time in Germany would have a negative impact on his career, Elvis ensured his record company continued to release songs during his national service and he had ten top 40 hits while he was in the army.

In September 1959, during a party as his home, Elvis was introduced to the then 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu, whose step-father was based in Germany with the air force. 

He took an instant liking to her and the pair were practically inseparable during the rest of his time in Germany.

They stayed in touch when he went back to America and Priscilla visited him in 1962 before moving to Graceland in 1963 and marrying him in 1967. 

For part of his time in Germany, Elvis lived wth his father Vernon, and grandmother Minnie Mae, along with two friends and bodyguards. 

Fans would congregate outside his home to watch the star as he left to go on manoeuvres, prompting the family to put a sign up saying autographs would be given between 7.30pm and 8pm. 

During his time in Germany, Elvis also developed an unhealthy relationship with the stimulants and barbiturates that later contributed to his death at the age of 42 in 1977.  

Elvis was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in January 1960 and received his stripes the following month. 

But he was then officially discharged on March 5 in a ceremony at Fort Dix, New Jersey. 

There, the star received his final pay and a gift from Ms Sinatra. 

This year’s biopic about the star, simply titled Elvis, features Austin Butler in the lead role, whilst Tom Hanks plays his overbearing manager Colonel Tim Parker. 

The film, directed by Baz Luhrmann, has received positive reviews from critics and audiences 

Whilst serving in Germany, Elvis met his future wife Priscilla at a house party he hosted, whilst his mother Gladys died from a heart attack shortly before he left the US. Above: Elvis and Priscilla at their wedding in 1967

Whilst serving in Germany, Elvis met his future wife Priscilla at a house party he hosted, whilst his mother Gladys died from a heart attack shortly before he left the US. Above: Elvis and Priscilla at their wedding in 1967

Elvis was inducted into the US Army in Tennessee in March 1958 at the age of 23, when he was already a major star in the US and around the world. Above: Elvis on stage

Elvis was inducted into the US Army in Tennessee in March 1958 at the age of 23, when he was already a major star in the US and around the world. Above: Elvis on stage

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