On the night of the lottery, we gathered in front of the TV at the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house on Cameron Avenue. We had all chipped in for a "fifth" of whiskey and had set it on top of the television set; it was to be awarded to the first person whose birthday was drawn. Chris Hodges got that dubious honor and he subsequently joined the Marine Reserves. At that time, National Guard and reserve units weren’t being sent to Viet Nam so his was a "safe" choice though the Marine training was extreme compared to Army basic training. Chris was killed in an automobile accident two years later.
My number was 167, just high enough to give me hope. but a call to my county draft board in South Carolina confirmed that I’d be drafted as soon as I graduated in 1970. Though I was opposed to the war and participated in campus demonstrations, my feelings didn’t run deeply enough to consider becoming a conscientious objector or fleeing to Canada. I investigated all the popular options of the time — becoming a critical-needs teacher, going to divinity school, finding a reserve unit. I had decided to go to Navy OCS when I got a call that I’d been accepted in a National Guard unit back in South Carolina. I drove home the next day, was sworn in and entered basic training at Fort Campbell, Ky., in September of 1970. I served six years in the Guard, first as a Jeep driver and then as a public information specialist, before being discharged in 1976.