On 1 December 1969, I was assigned draft lottery number 147, which pretty much guaranteed that I would be called up around the time of my twenty-third birthday in early April 1970. When I got my preinduction physical notice to appear in Los Angeles, I requested to be examined in Oakland, because that was closer to my home.
On 23 June 1970, I was examined and held overnight to see the ophthalmologist on the following day, and he passed me. I was not surprised, because my most recent measurement put my nearsightedness at -7.75 diopters in each eye — bad but not bad enough.
I started basic training at Fort Ord, California, about seventeen miles from my parents’ front door in Salinas, CA. At the end of my first week, I was measured for GI eyeglasses, and the technician ordered me to go to the hospital on Monday for a more thorough exam.
The Army ophthalmologist pronounced me unfit for service, because both my eyes measured in excess of -8.00 diopters. I was out of the Army after three weeks, honorably discharged for medical reasons. I can only think of one reason for the change in measurement: I got sick with pneumonia and pleurisy, and that may have made my vision just bad enough.