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Jeffrey J. Mellinger
Command Sergeant Major Jeffrey J. Mellinger
Born 1953
Place of birth Eugene, Oregon
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1972—2011
Rank Army-USA-OR-09b.svg Command Sergeant Major
Battles/wars Iraq War
Awards Army Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit (2)
Bronze Star Medal (V)
Meritorious Service Medal (8)
Army Commendation Medal (7)
Army Achievement Medal (4)

Jeff J. Mellinger (born 1953[1]) is a retired United States Army Command Sergeant Major. When he officially retired on December 31, 2011, he was the last active duty enlisted draftee in the United States military. The United States discontinued the draft in 1973, moving to an all-volunteer military force.

Biography[edit | edit source]

The son of a Marine, he was drafted into the U.S. Army on April 18, 1972. Previously, he had been working as a drywall hanger in Eugene, Oregon when he came home one day and received his draft papers.[1] When he received them, he thought that President Richard Nixon had personally written the paper to him.[2] He went to the draft board and asked them if it was really serious. He was told that it was and ended up training at Fort Ord, in California, soon thereafter. He later was stationed in West Germany as a clerk and could not wait to get out after his two year service was up. The company commander ended up changing his mind when he convinced him on the possibility of joining the Army Rangers. He said in a 2007 ABC News magazine interview that reenlisting was the best decision of his life. As of 2011, he has made over 3,700 jumps with a total of thirty-three hours in freefall.[1]

Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Mellinger is inducted into the Army Materiel Command Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2019. AMC commander Gen. Gus Perna presented the honor March 10, 2020 at AMC Headquarters, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.

Over the years, he was deployed to Japan and Iraq. During the more than thirty-three months that he was in Iraq, his convoys hit twenty-seven roadside bombs, including two that destroyed his own vehicle. In both instances, he was not injured. He was promoted over the years to the rank of Command Sergeant-Major, and worked at the headquarters of the United States Army Materiel Command in Virginia. Although at the time of Mellinger's announced retirement, the U.S. Army believed he was the last Vietnam War draftee remaining on active duty without a break in service, there remained two others - Chief Warrant Officer 4 Franklin Ernst and Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ralph Rigby.[3] In 2011, he announced his retirement from the Army after serving for nearly forty years. During his retirement, he plans on living in Alaska and reading history with his two Dobermans and his wife.[1] His favorite phrase is "no whining" and at his home in Virginia he has a handmade windchime made from metal parts that were put in his leg after a parachute accident.[4]

Army Materiel Command headquarters relocated from Virginia to Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Alabama, in 2011. Mellinger participated in a change of responsibility ceremony at Bob Jones High School in Madison, Alabama, on August 26, 2011, and in an official retirement ceremony in Washington, D.C., on October 3, 2011. His retirement from the Army was be complete on December 31, 2011.[5]

He is the brother of Marine Sergeant Major Stephen Mellinger who together have a combined 70 years of service.

Awards and decorations[edit | edit source]

Army Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster
Bronze Star Medal with Valor device
Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Meritorious Service Medal with seven oak leaf clusters
Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Commendation Medal with six oak leaf clusters
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Achievement Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Joint Meritorious Unit Award with two oak leaf clusters
Army Superior Unit Award
Army Good Conduct Medal with gold clasp and 3 loops
Bronze star
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with two service stars
Bronze star
Bronze star
Iraqi Campaign Medal with two campaign stars
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
NCO Professional Development Ribbon
Army Service Ribbon
Overseas Service Ribbon with award numeral 8
Combat Action Badge.svg Combat Action Badge
Expert Infantry Badge.svg Expert Infantryman Badge
US Army Airborne master parachutist badge.gif Master Parachutist Badge
US Military Master Free Fall Parachutist Badge.jpg Military Master Free Fall Parachutist Badge
Ranger Tab.png Ranger Tab
DrillInstructBadge.gif Drill Sergeant Identification Badge
75th Ranger Regiment Distinctive Unit Insignia.svg 75th Ranger Regiment Distinctive Unit Insignia
No image.png Canadian Commando Parachute Badge
No image.png Royal Thai Parachute Badge
No image.png Malaysian Parachute Badge

He has more than 33 hours of accumulated freefall in more than 3,700 jumps, and is an FAA Master Parachute Rigger. [6]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Military offices
Preceded by
Daniel K. Elder
AMC Command Sergeant Major
Succeeded by
Ronald T. Riling
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