I had a II-S college deferment in 1969 when they did the draft lottery. The year before there was something of a pre-cursor to the lottery in that if you were in college, you had to take a nationwide SAT-like test and get a minimum score to keep the II-S deferment. I took the test at Palm Beach Junior Colege and managed to keep the deferment, transferring to UF in the fall of 1968.

I watched the lottery on TV that night, and my birthday (May 10th) drew number 65, meaning I was a goner. My friend Mike, watching with me, pulled three hundred and something. We decided to go out and get drunk–me, because it looked like I was going to get drafted, Mike, because it was apparent that he had beat it. After drinking, I was driving my ’64 Chevelle north on SW 34th St. just south of the University Ave. intersection, when I rear-ended the car in front of me. My hood looked like a pup-tent, and I was justifiably concerned that I might get picked up for drunk driving. The car I hit showed hardly any damage, and when I explained to the guy (another student), he understod, and we didn’t call a cop.

The following summer (1970) I got my notice to report for my physical. I was supposed to have graduated that spring, but had to hang around for the summer and fall terms to get the credits to graduate. When I got the notice, I called the Florida Air National Guard recruiter in Jacksonville after hearing rumors of openings for pilots. There actually were, but I never followed up since I unexpectedly failed my physical.

They had a bus for about 55 of us from Gainesville, about 50 students, the remaining were a couple of local black guys not in college and a couple of white farm boys from outside town. Almost all the college students had letters from their doctors, the local guys didn’t: a statement of the times. They took my pulse at the physical and it was over 100. They said they would take it again at the end of the physical, and it was still over 100. They told me to have it taken once a day for a week, and have the doctor send them the results. I had this done at the UF infirmary, and my pulse remained above 100. They deferred me for a year with a I-Y. The following summer (1971) I took my physical again in Miami and passed. But by January, 1972 they ended the draft and so I skated after all.

The irony is, by late 1973–after futilely trying to land a full-time job as a social studies teacher–I decided to go for a commission in the Air Force. I had been opposed to the Vietnam war, but never opposed to the military. It took a lot of EKGs to convince them my heart was okay, and I wound up spending the majority of my adult life flying or in flight operations.