View Jerry Garcia’s Military Records

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Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia’s 1960 military records are available via the National Archives. The documents, highlighted by Lone Star Dead Radio, came from the Official Military Personnel File of Jerome J. Garcia, which was noted by author and JamBase contributor Steve Silberman.

According to the biography on the official Jerry Garcia website, “hoping to see the world” the then 17-year-old Garcia enlisted in the Army in April 1960. He completed basic training at Fort Ord near Monterey, California.

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Jerry’s short-lived enlistment in the Army was marred by three punishments and a court-martial. Garcia’s undistinguished service was detailed in one of the highlighted documents, a letter dated December 12, 1960, signed by his commanding officer Captain John H. Downey, who wrote, “Garcia’s only interest appears to be getting out of the Army.”

Read the letter here:

Two additional documents dated December 12, 1960, are part of Garcia’s military records. A letter signed by Walter L. Heller indicates Jerry came to his “attention because of [Garcia’s] personal uncleanliness and the filthy condition of his personal billeting area in the barracks.” That letter closed with: “In order to develop or rehabilitate an individual, some degree of cooperation on the part of that individual must be present. In my association with the respondent in this unit, I have noted no evidence of any degree of such cooperation on the part of Garcia. In my opinion, Garcia should be eliminated from the service under the provisions of AR 635-209 without delay.”

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The other December 12 letter (seen above) was written by Garcia requesting, “elimination from the service under AR 635-209.” Garcia also wrote, “I do not desire to submit a statement in my own behalf, except to say that for the good of the service, I accept discharge, without board hearing, under AR 635-209.”

Another document from Garcia’s Army file, dated September 23, 1960, is a certificate of completion of Basic Missileman Qualification Course OE-6 at the San Francisco Army Air Defense School at Fort Winfield Scott. View the certificate here:

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