I graduated from UNC in June of 69, and embarked on the frantic quest for a National Guard slot. With my future (including law school) on hold, I decided to conduct this campaign from Charlotte (a summer job) and then back in Chapel Hill during the fall. I must have been on 20 waiting-lists, most in NC, but also a few back home in Baltimore.

The rumors of corruption in this process were rampant, but I had few old-boy strings to pull, and certainly no financial resources to grease any palms. The one hole-card was my acquaintance with a daughter of the Adjutant General of the Maryland National Guard. This garnered me an audience in Baltimore with the Big Man, who turned me over to his aide-de-camp with the observation that "surely the colonel will come up with an opening". I was crestfallen to discover that this precious nugget was a spot in an airborne reserve unit. I had to respond as diplomatically as I could that the 14-month basic and AIT training for this unit would cost me yet another year on my plan to start law school.

Otherwise, I had to go at it straight-up, and just kept calling around periodically to see where I was on each waiting-list. Finally, in mid-November, I got to the top of the queue in a High Point NG artillery unit. I was sworn in over there on a Sunday and, of course, ducked the draft physical for which I was scheduled the very next day, Monday, in Raleigh. It only took the two MPs until Wednesday to track me down at the KA House in Chapel Hill. They were all set to haul away their prey, when I pulled out my enlistment form and said "There must be a mistake, gentlemen; I’m already a member of the Armed Forces".

Fast-forward to that same fraternity house on 1 December 69: I was still rotting in Chapel Hill pending my shipment to boot camp in early January. The TV room was jammed with the active brotherhood and the cold beer and bourbon was stacked to the ceiling. We were all bombed out of our minds by the time the 365th pill was drawn. Those in the last 125 or so were drunk with joy with the knowledge that they were likely bullet-proof. The sorry lot in the first 125 were legless with the horrorifying prospect that they were headed to Nam if they couldn’t scramble up an NG spot on short notice. Those in between were numbing themselves with intoxicants against the anxiety of not knowing whether to (a) sit tight and gamble that their respective numbers wouldn’t eventually get reached, or (b) initiate the search for a sanctuary requiring 6 years of part-time servitude.

I, on the other hand, was just enjoying the party, viewing this theatre of the absurd with considerable detachment. I didn’t relish the 4 months of hard physical, and Mickey-Mouse mental, discipline ahead of me, or the 5+ years of commitment thereafter, but I took considerable solace in the fact that I had already achieved a personal resolution of this crisis which was to have life-and-death consequences for so many in my generation.