Since 1969 I have been telling friends that the only lottery that I have ever won was the 1969 draft lottery.  I remember being in the den of my dorm (I was the Housefellow) watching TV with all the other residents. Just men at the time and most all eligible for service.  I was a Junior.  My number came up quickly, below 30.  I knew that from that moment on my life’s highest priority was dealing with the draft and the Vietnam War. School, family & friends took a back seat.

My closest friend and dorm mate, David, was in the room with me.  David had already enlisted in the National Guard some time before.  As soon as my number came up David told me that early the next morning we would be visiting every National Guard unit in Madison to put my name on the list.  Next morning David drove me to each unit of the Army and Air Force National Guard and we did just as he advised. I felt that this was a good solution for me.  I was not prepared to either go to Vietnam, become a Conscientious Objector or leave the country.  In April of 1970 (last semester of my Senior year) I got a call from an Army unit telling me that there was a slot available, but that I had to be ready in 5 days to begin basic training.  I spent those five days visiting all my professors, arranging "incomplete" grades for all my courses, suspending my employment as a Housefellow, arranging to have my car put in storage, putting all my belongings in storage, saying goodbye to my girlfriend and all my other friends and packing a change of clothing.  Five days later I was on a plane to Fort Polk, Louisiana.

I was indeed fortunate.  The Army unit was a hospital unit and I was trained as a hospital Medic, thereby avoiding the entire question of potential combat duty. The National Guard, in those days was activated only for such things as postal strikes and campus unrest.  Thankfully, I was not called upon for either.  I returned to school in January of 1971 to complete the courses I had postponed and received my degree that June–one year late.

I transferred to a New York National Guard unit after graduation and for the next 6 years attended my monthly weekend meetings and my two week summer camps.  I was discharged in 1976.  The Vietnam War had ended the year before.