I was barely holding onto my student deferment in 1969 when the first draft lottery was held. My grades had been poor and working a full-time job to support my education wasn’t helping. I knew if I drew a low number I’d be called and of course was hoping for a high number, though secretly I think I wanted that low number just so I could make a stink about how angry I was about one cousin whose plane had been shot down over Vietnam in 1967 was still listed as MIA and another cousin who had just recently been killed after only three months in-country.
I was sitting around the rooming house I shared with college friends. We were all anxiously waiting for the drawing. My birthdate was called first, and I remember walking outside and then standing in the snow and burning my student deferred draft card in some kind of 19 year olds’ version of protest. Within two weeks I received my induction notice and a new I-A draft card. I reported for induction, passed my physical, but refused to swear the oath or sign the papers, then walked out of the induction center. When I got home I sent my draft card to President Nixon with a letter telling him that he should go in my place seeing as how he actually supported the war. I have no idea if it ever reached him. Within two weeks I received another induction notice accompanied by a threat that if I refused induction again I would risk 5 years in prison, so I showed up, but did the same thing as before. I walked out before swearing the oath.
It must have been a month later when my draft board informed me that I must report for a preliminary hearing before a federal judge regarding my status as a "draft evader". That was scheduled for late summer of 1970 if I remember correctly. In the meantime, this being late spring I became so nervous over the idea of going to prison that I decided I’d join the Navy and just get it over with. Well, the Navy recruiter said he’d take me, but there was a 6 month waiting list and before I could go I’d have to have my "papers" cleared for enlistment. Evidently there was some kind of nonsense about my papers being held for the army or something like that. I went back to the induction center and told them what was up and that I had decided to join the Navy. They said, no way was that going to happen. I was either going in the Army or the Marines and that was that. So, once again I just walked out and forgot about it.
When I did finally go before the judge it was just me and members of the draft board sitting in an empty court room. The judge reviewed my papers then proceeded to call out the draft board for screwing everything up. He told them that I had not committed any crime, that there was no law against not taking an oath or signing my name to the security clearance. In fact I could not be put in prison for evading the draft as I had not evaded anything. In fact I had shown up for induction twice, but evidently the induction center didn’t go through some kind of proper procedure of strong-arming me onto the bus or whatever. Then the judge gave me hell for making matters worse by trying to join the Navy. He then told the draft board to induct me one more time and then told me I had better show up and do what I was told or he’d bring the full weight of the law down on me.
Once again I received the standard induction letter and reported when I was supposed to, but this time when the physical was finished, all my papers were stamped "reject" and I was sent home. I received a notice about a month later stating that I had been reclassified I-Y and unfit for military service except in an extreme emergency. Later that turned into a IV-F about the time the draft was ended. Years later I found out that the FBI had been checking my background and found that I had been involved in some anti-war demonstrations and had joined the socialists workers party and any other number of anti war groups I could think of at the time.
The only thing I’ve learned from all this is that the cycle of war never ends. Nobody learns anything and every generation is sent off to die for causes that are typically unknown or never fully explained, but somebody is getting rich off of it and I guess that’s all that really matters.