I volunteered for the Army during my senior year at UNC in 1969 before I received my draft number. I thought I would have to go eventually, so I volunteered for a three year tour in return for enrollment in Officer Candidate School, which with Basic, Advance Infantry Training and OCS meant I would be in training for almost a year.  If I perfomed well, there was a good chance I might get to choose my first tour of duty some where besides Vietnam.

I was lucky.  Halfway through OCS at Fort Belvoir VA in 1970 (where we trained for riot control in DC after Kent State), Nixon decided to scale back the war; and second lieutenants were no longer in great demand. To encourage OCS members to drop out — thereby foregoing a commission and returning to service as an enlisted person —  the Army agreed in return to drop one year from OCS members’ three year commitment AND guarantee that members who dropped would not have to serve in Vietnam.  For me and other members of my Fort Belvoir class who had been in for almost a year, this meant we be out in a year and serve the duration of our tour in the US, Korea or Europe.

It was a stampede. More than 80 percent of my class took the deal. I spent the remainder of my tour stationed with the 51st Combat Engineer Battalion at Fort Campbell, KY.