'Immature' Jerry Garcia Was Discharged from the Army in 1960

Jerry Garcia in his Uncle Sam hat. In 1960, he spent eight months in the Army before being discharged.

Jerry Garcia's official military personnel file says the guitarist was "unrealiable, irresponsible, immature, unwilling to accept authority and completely lacking in soldierly qualities." This led to his discharge from the Army in 1960 just eight months after he enlisted.

After Garcia stole his mother's car, she forced him to join the Army. Jerome John Garcia enlisted on Apr. 12, 1960.

Garcia was sent to Ford Ord in Monterey. He completed his training there on Sept, 23, 1960. 

Garcia was transferred to Fort Winfield Scott in San Francisco. Back home (he was born there in 1942), Garcia didn't fit in. You could see him in the cut-up role like Bill Murray in Stripes.

Two superior officers submitted statements on December 12 explaining that Garcia was beyond repair. Capt. John H. Downey noted that Garcia "had three battery punishments and one summary court martial." After discussing matters with the recruit on Nov. 12, he concluded Garcia "had no desire to improve himself as a soldier" and that his "conduct is unsatisfactory." He predicted, "If this man remains in military service, continued rehabilitation procedure will be of no avail, and his character and behavoir will become more evident and quantitive."

In a statement submitted by Walter L. Heller, he wrote that "Garcia came to my attention because of his personal uncleanliness and the filthy condition of his personal billeting area in the barracks... In order to develop or rehabilitate an individual, some degree of cooperation on the part of that individual must be present... I have noted no evidence of any degree of cooperation on the part of Garcia. In my opinion, Garcia should be eliminated from the serivce."

On December 13, Garcia received a statement informing him that he'd been recommended "for Elimination from the Service."

On December 14, Garcia was officially discharged from the Army. 

With his disappointing Army experience behind him, Garcia moved to Palo Alto in 1961 where he met Robert Hunter and started colloraborating on songs that would eventually become the music of the Grateful Dead. 

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.