I was a sophomore at Chapel Hill when that lottery was held. I remember it as though it occurred yesterday. I have often thought about how that one evening changed so many lives.
I was in a fraternity at the time, and several of us who were in the lottery had gone down to Franklin Street and bought beer to consume while we awaited our fate. By the time we arrived back at the house, the lottery was about to begin, and at the same time we were just sitting down, the first number was called, and a full beer can hit the wall; one of the other guys had the first number.
The rest of us did not fare much better; all of us had numbers less than 100 (mine was 97, I believe), meaning that we were sure to be drafted upon graduation from Carolina.
As I wanted to attend law school, and as I understood that if you went through ROTC you could possibly get a deferment after graduation from UNC to do that, I immediately began looking at my options, and learned that Navy ROTC was a four year program only, but that Air Force ROTC had a small two year program.
I passed the physical (with my excellent eyesight and hearing making me a candidate to become a pilot, which were in short supply) and qualified to take the written exam. Now, I have never tested very well, and this concerned me. The test was at 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I went to a party that Friday night, stayed up later and drank more beers than I should have, and woke up the next morning at 8:00 a.m. in the same clothes I had worn the evening before. I immediately ran to the test site, arrived after everyone else and after the test had begun, and was directed by the less-than-enthused test monitor to the only empty seat in the back of the room. I was advised later that I had scored in the 98th percentile on the test, and due to the high score, I did not have to be rated (i.e. be either a pilot or navigator).
I completed the two year ROTC program (that is another story), graduated from UNC in 1972, received a commission in the Air Force, was admitted to law school, received a deferment from the Air Force to attend law school, graduated from law school in 1974, and was subsequently advised that as the Air Force did not need officers at that time, I would be given the option (called the "Palace Option") to serve either four years or three months of active duty.
I elected to serve the three months (which was done in Washington DC as a staff attorney to the Presidential Clemency Board which had been created by President Ford; that is another story as well), then served in the inactive reserve (apparently as an intelligence officer) for ten years, after which I was honorably dischared from the Air Force as a Captain.
I have often thought about how my life could have been dramatically changed at any number of junctures during this period of time. It all started with that lottery.