vintage fort

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Jimi Hendrix’s stint in the Army wasn’t necessarily voluntary. he was already honing his guitar skills in 1961 when a run-in with the law over stolen cars led to a choice: he could either spend two years in prison or join the Army. He enlisted on May 31, 1961 and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, where he was stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He continued playing guitar while off-duty, Sergeant Louis Hoekstra commented, “This is one of his faults, because his mind apparently cannot function while performing duties and thinking about his guitar.” He noted that Hendrix was a “habitual offender” when it came to missing midnight bed checks and it was reported that he slept while on duty.

Hendrix had signed up for three years of service but Captain Gilbert Batchman had enough after one year, and made the case for Hendrix to be discharged, as his problems were judged to not be treatable by “hospitalization or counseling.” According to the discharge form he had “Behavior problems, requires excessive supervision while on duty, little regard for regulations, appended masturbating in platoon area while supposed to be on detail.”An alleged ankle injury during a parachute jump gave Hendrix the opportunity to bow out of active duty with an honorable discharge, and he was happy to oblige. 

Auxiliaries Ruth Wade and Lucille Mayo (left to right) further demonstrate their ability to service trucks as taught them during the processing period at Fort Des Moines and put into practice at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.”, 12/8/1942

Series: Photographs of American Military Activities, ca. 1918 - ca. 1981Record Group 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860 - 1985

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