I was at UNC, not motivated in the general classes, and met a number of veterans who’d come back from Vietnam who were "highly" motivated. They didn’t know what they wanted to do, mind you, but they were intensely glad to be in school. Before 1969 college students had a deferment, which I thought was pretty inequitable.

I notified my draft board in June that I wouldn’t be returning to school in September. By July I had my notice to report for a physical. I remember distinctly each and every event of the day I reported for the physical, which took place in a rented building over in Raleigh. Somewhere in the process an Army doctor looked at my glasses and sent me out for a thorough eye exam with a nearby specialist on contract to the Army. The contracted doctor fit me into his schedule, gave me an exam, then looked at me and said quietly, "Son, are you trying to get in or out?" I told him, "Out."

He filled out the Army papers and told me to take them back over to the physical center. I handed them to the Army doctor who’d sent me out. He read through them and without looking up at me, stamped them twice and said, "The Army finds you medically deferred at the current time." He handed the papers back to me and told me to wait on a bench in the hall.

I sat on the bench with about ten other guys, black and white, not knowing what would happen next. A sergent appeared and spoke to the other guys on the bench. "All right," he said, "You are all here because you can’t read and write. The Army can’t take you if you can’t read and write. But if we find out someday you can, you’ll be back here in front of me quicker than a rabbit crossing the road."

He came to me and asked if I had anyone to come pick me up. If not, I’d have to wait for everyone else to get processed and take the bus back at the end of the day. I called a friend to come pick me up.

The 1-Y notice came in the mail and I left the week later to live in France.