Hendrix got into trouble with the law twice for riding in stolen cars. He was given a choice between spending two years in prison or joining the Army. Hendrix chose the latter and enlisted on May 31, 1961. After completing boot camp, he was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division and stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. His commanding officers and fellow soldiers considered him to be a sub-par soldier: he slept while on duty, had little regard for regulations, required constant supervision, and showed no skill as a marksman. For these reasons, his commanding officers submitted a request that Hendrix be discharged from the military after he had served only one year. Hendrix did not object when the opportunity to leave arose. Hendrix would later tell reporters that he received a medical discharge after breaking his ankle during his 26th parachute jump. The 2005 biography Room Full of Mirrors by Charles Cross claims that Hendrix faked being homosexual -— claiming to have fallen in love with a fellow soldier -— in order to be discharged, but has never produced credible evidence to support this contention.
At the post recreation center, he met fellow soldier and bass player Billy Cox, and forged a loyal friendship that would serve Hendrix well during the last year of his life. The two would often play with other musicians at venues both on and off the post as a loosely organized band named "The King Kasuals".
As a celebrity in the UK, Hendrix only mentioned his military service in three published interviews, one in 1967 for the film See My Music Talking, (much later released under the title Experience) which was intended for TV to promote his recently released Axis: Bold As Love LP, in which he spoke very briefly of his first parachuting experience: "...once you get out there everything is so quiet, all you hear is the breezes-s-s-s..." This comment has later been used to claim that he was saying that this was one of the sources of his "spacy" guitar sound. The second and third mentions of his military experience were in interviews for a magazine, "Melody Maker", in 1967 and 1969, where he spoke of his dislike of the army. In interviews in the US, Hendrix almost never mentioned it, and when Dick Cavett brought it up in his TV interview, Hendrix' only response was to verify that he had been based at Fort Campbell.