Falls veteran befriended Elvis
NEWTON FALLS – Lonnie Wolfe was just a 17-year-old running away from home when he joined the U.S. Army in the late 1950s. Little did he know he would be sharing close quarters with every teen girl’s heartthrob – Elvis Presley.
“I was one of those know-it-all kids. I ran away from home and enlisted to tick my parents off,” he said. “I didn’t tick anyone but myself.”
After basic training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina and advanced training at Fort Hood in Texas, Wolfe was deployed to Freiburg, Germany, in 1959 with the 3rd Armored Division. Wolfe said he didn’t see any of the Cold War’s action, but was deployed to Berlin on guard duty a few times.
His first night in Germany he recalled a readiness alert startling him in the middle of the night.
“They gave you three minutes to get ready, to get dressed, get combat ready and on the street,” he said.
Wolfe was assigned to one of 13 jeeps in his armory as a driver. Each jeep carried three soldiers, including the driver, who would go on reconnaissance missions.
“We were like spies. We’d find the enemy, find out what they had and what they were capable of, and then report back,” he said.
In Wolfe’s jeep was Sgt. Presley and another soldier. The first time Wolfe met Elvis, he didn’t even realize it.
“It’s dark, and he comes up and starts asking questions. I thought he must be a commander or something, so I tried to answer his questions as best as I could. Later on I got to meet him,” he said. “We ate together, slept together, showered together, cried on each other’s shoulders.”
He has plenty of stories involving the two of them being flooded by Presley’s foreign fans. In one instance, the two got permission to go take showers at a set of British barracks nearby and got chased by a group of German women.
“We took off running. We got in the showers and thought we were safe. Boy, were we wrong!” Wolfe said.
The women shoved cards under the shower doors trying to get autographs.
“He liked the military life because he was treated just like anybody else,” Wolfe said. “He said he’d give up everything just to live a normal life.”
Wolfe’s time in the army was extended by seven months and three days. He spent almost four years in the military before moving back to America and meeting his ex-wife Joan Wolfe.
He said his time in the U.S. Army taught him about responsibility and friendship.
Nowadays Wolfe is able to keep in contact with several of his army friends through Facebook.
“You were together 24/7 and never knew what the day was going to bring,” he said. “It became a relationship that’s important.”