Local Korea veteran recalls service alongside Elvis - WEEK.com: Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

Local Korea veteran recalls service alongside Elvis

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Spec-4 Al Kollar poses with his prized photograph of himself and Elvis Spec-4 Al Kollar poses with his prized photograph of himself and Elvis
PEORIA, Ill. (WEEK) -- -

In his house, Army Specialist Albert Kollar has plenty of pictures of family and friends, but as he described his deployment to Fort Hood, Texas and then Friedburg, Germany, it was apparent that one friendship was king among others.

"That's where I met Elvis!"

It was all coincidence, but Al and Elvis wound up in the same unit.

"We were in A and B company, and he was in one and I was in the other," Kollar explained. "So we were in the next barracks. And I used to see him every day."

Kollar, Presley and the rest of the 3rd Armored Division spent a few years in West Germany, while many soldiers were deployed to the Korean front.

But as Kollar fondly recalls, Elvis was no slouch.

"He was right there with the rest of the soldiers, just doing his job," said Kollar. "If I did 25 pushups, he had to do 25 push-ups. So he was willing to serve for his country. I never heard him complain."

Kollar was friends with Presley, and never felt overshadowed by the man...except maybe once.

"My mom and two sisters wanted to come up to Fort Hood to see me, and they asked me, well, 'Do you think we could see Elvis?' I said, 'Hell, you're not coming to see me! You want to see Elvis!'"

Still, Kollar wouldn't change a thing.

"I served my time, and I was glad I could do it. I think that's part of your duty. I mean, we're all Americans. And if we want to be free, we have to do what's right, and that's it."

Though Elvis won't be joining him, Kollar is looking forward to Tuesday, May 8th, when he and dozens of other veterans from Central Illinois will be flying out to Washington D.C.

"They want to have as many people as they can to welcome the veterans back, so that's a good thing," he quipped. "I think it makes you feel good, when you know somebody's on your side."

Kollar and other local veterans will fly out on the 8th - and that night, we want you to help welcome them back.

The community is invited to head out to the airport's main lobby at 9:30 p.m. on May 8 to welcome back the veterans with a big celebration.

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