Jeff Mellinger

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Jeffrey J. Mellinger
Jeffrey J. Mellinger.jpg
Command Sergeant Major Jeffrey J. Mellinger
Born 1953
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 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 one of the last active duty enlisted draftees in the United States military (the other being Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ralph Rigby, who retired in November 2014). The United States discontinued the draft in 1973, moving to an all-volunteer military force.


The son of a Marine, he first trained 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]

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]

Awards and decorations[edit]

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
Award numeral 4.png NCO Professional Development Ribbon with award numeral 4
Army Service Ribbon
Award numeral 8.png 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.svg Ranger Tab
DrillInstructBadge.gif Drill Sergeant Identification Badge
75 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]


  1. ^ a b c d Thompson, Mark (February 7, 2009). "America's Last Draftee: "I'm a Relic"". Time. Retrieved July 4, 2011. 
  2. ^ Kerley, David; Smith, Candace (July 3, 2011). "Last Vietnam Era Draftee Finally Retires". ABC News. Retrieved July 4, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Vietnam-Era Draftees Still on Duty in U.S. Army". NPR. Associated Press. July 15, 2011. Retrieved July 16, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Last Vietnam-era draftee is retiring from Army". WTVD-TV. Associated Press. July 4, 2011. Retrieved July 4, 2011. 
  5. ^ Tolson, Amy Guckeen (August 24, 2011). "Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Mellinger; AMC command sergeant major looking toward retirement". Redstone Rocket. Archived from the original on 26 April 2012. Retrieved December 30, 2011. 
  6. ^ Official DoD Biography

External links[edit]

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