In September of 2000, TEXAS MONTHLY’s Michael Hall told the story of the months that Elvis Presley spent in Fort Hood and Killeen, that famous period when the 23-year-old took a break from being the King of Rock and Roll to serve his country.
“Elvis wasn’t just a soldier; he was a good one,” Hall wrote, though the superstar and well known Mama’s boy had initially struggled to adjust:
Elvis had never lived away from home before, and he was miserable, homesick for his mother, Gladys. “He needed someone to look out for him,” Mansfield says, “and Sergeant Norwood was a good one to do that.” William Norwood, the master sergeant, saw the despair in the kid’s face and took him home so he could call his mother. “When you come in my house, you can let it all out” was Norwood’s fatherly advice. “But when you walk out of my front door, you are now Elvis Presley. You’re an actor. You’re a soldier. So, by God, I want you to act! Don’t let anybody know how you feel on the inside.”…
When GIs from other companies razzed Elvis during marches, Sergeant Norwood would stop the proceedings and dress the offender down.
Now, as Scott Huddleston of the San Antonio Express-News reports, a letter Presley wrote to Norwood in November 1958 is part of RR Auction’s Modern Music Auction, one of more than fifty Presley items up for sale.
RR’s Bobby Livingston told Huddleston that in 2008, a similar letter Presley wrote from Germany to one of his cousins sold for $30,185. The opening bid for this one is $2,500.
The auction house’s background information on the letter is drawn almost entirely from Hall’s story, with just a few additions. (And one error: they misspell Killeen as “Killian”).
As the description notes, one of the more remarkable things about it, both in terms of history and the letter’s value to collectors, is that Presley wasn’t much for writing. It was penned while Elvis was stationed in the Czech Republic, several months after Gladys Presley died. In it he refers to his girlfriend Anita Wood and several other Fort Hood-trained privates and officers.
Below, the letter’s