MOSSY, WV (WOAY) – Wednesday would have been Elvis Presley’s 85th Birthday. While many remember him for his music, his movies and his iconic legacy, Ted Gray from Mossy called him a friend.
When Gray was shipped out to the Ray Barracks in Friedberg, Germany, he had no idea he would be serving in the U.S. Army with Elvis Presley.
“I was 18 years old. You know, I’d been dancing to his records. I said, ‘Well it is.’ Like some kid. But it is was quite a thrill. Quite a thrill,” Gray said.
They became friends, talking almost on a daily basis. Gray said Elvis was shy but down-to-earth and reminded him of boys from back home.
“We all met at the theater there on the base and on the marquee was ‘Jailhouse Rock’ with Elvis on it and one of the guys asked him, ‘You going to see that?’ And he said, ‘No, I’ve seen that one.’ And I thought that was kinda funny, you know?” Gray laughed.
After serving from 1958 to 1960 in Germany together, Gray said he remembers him today and always for not only being the “musician of the century” in his eyes but for his service to the country.
“As popular as he was, he still done his obligation for his military. The draft called, and he did it. Plus, he could’ve got special favors. He could’ve went into special things like Bob Hope done them shows and all that stuff. Elvis could’ve done that, but he elected to stay with us. And that’s what I admire more than anything,” Gray said.
After returning to the U.S., Gray got to see him in concert in Charleston. He did not go up to him because he figured he would have plenty of opportunities as his career continued. Elvis died one year later.
Now, Gray holds on to the photos and the memories.
“And I got rare footage of me and him standing there talking. Pretty interesting. Kids ask me, ‘What did you do?’ And I said, ‘I made a movie with Elvis,’” he laughed.
You can see the wall of photos Gray has with Elvis at his Exxon station in Mossy.