This was the first draft and a bunch of us had gone to Greensboro to see a Duke basketball game. We took a large portable radio (they were all large back then) so we could listen to the results. The drawing began during the freshman game (they had freshmen teams in the 1960s). The guy (Dave B) who owned the radio heard his number drawn fourth and he was so angry that he threw the radio onto the court, disrupting the game. Of course the radio broke and the rest of us had to wait until the car ride home to hear our fate.
I was drafted the summer following graduation in 1970. While at Duke, one of our classmates (Dale W) had dropped out of school, been drafted, and was killed in Viet Nam. This had a huge impact on those of us who knew him and many of us were worried sick about being drafted, even though we considered ourselves patriotic and loved our country. I had flat feet and was able to convince the admissions officers (with the help of a doctor’s letter) that I was unfit to serve. This was not a sure thing and I was not certain as to my fate until the very end of the process. In retrospect, I might have been smarter to get into the reserves or ROTC, but I decided to gamble on my feet and it worked out.
I still wonder what it would have been like to serve in the military and wish that I could have done it under different circumstances. The way many Americans treated Viet Nam veterans is appalling – we treated them as the policy makers rather than the soldiers. It’s been 40 years and I will never forget that era.