I had a student deferment and was attending Central Connecticut State when I received the low lottery number. I don’t recall much other than being at the college that night with everyone trading their "scores". I remember an air of unreality getting that low number award.
Next year I was called for a physical, in February, 1970, though I still had my draft deferment. A train ticket was provided and a ride from Bridgeport to New Haven. I was classified I-A, and then buried the rough introduction to the army for the next two years.
In 1972 I came out with a diploma and an end to the deferment. Between a recession in Connecticut and my low lottery number (asked about at job interviews) I was sitting out there in limbo. I started bowing to what I thought was inevitable since they were raising the lotto numbers up, hitting the different branches for interviews. I finally settled on the shortest term, going into the army for a two year hitch. On July 27, 1972 I was in, reporting to Ft Dix for basic training. After the freedom of college, I felt like I was in prison. No Vietnam for me though, it was all stateside with the war winding down. Military Police, Nuclear Security. It was where they were tossing all the college grads who were drafted or two years service. So I was effectively back with the college crowd again.
The irony of it all was that the lottery numbers were escalated because the powers that be knew the draft was going to end, and by 1973 it did. If I had only known, maybe I would have evaded service.
You get what you can out of the experience and I used the GI Bill to go to grad school in California and have been here ever since. All’s well that ends well. I often thought about missing the war, haunted by the experiences others my age had there. I had not taken a position on the war then, just going back and forth from the protesters to a moderate posture -I just knew I wanted an education so I stayed in school. I often think that if I had gone in at age 19 I may not have been able to handle Vietnam. Guess I will never know.