My case was unique, to say the least. My birthday, February 12, was No. 68 in the lottery. For once I had WON something!

In the same month as the draft, I started experiencing moments of paralysis, which I simply wrote off as a back spasm, stress, pulled muscle, or whatever. I gave it no real thought that year, which was the spring of my junior year.

I worked for the Postal Service during the summer while in school, and that summer I was in a fairly serious accident on the job. I was driving my 3-wheeled Cushman along my route, when I got rammed straight on by a wrecker. Because I was young and in fairly decent shape, I bounced back very quickly (actually the next day). But following the accident, after returning to school that fall, the little paralysis episodes, which had been painless but debilitating, became excruciatingly painful and LONG, to the point that the folks at the hospital prescribed four painkillers and one muscle relaxer for me to take every day.

Long story short, it turned out I had a spinal tumor, on the inside of the spinal cord, which, thankfully, was successfully removed, along with the back of four of my lumbar vertebrae. (My neurosurgeons were both Duke alums). In addition, I had 60 days of cobalt radiation treatment that dropped my weight down to a whopping 116 pounds. At 6’1", I looked like I had just come out of a concentration camp. Net result: end of military eligibility.

I DID report for induction, however, and took the basic required written test. I think we were allotted two hours, and it took me about 30 minutes. The officer present didn’t quite believe that I had completed it, but I had. Anyway, I was given a IV-F on the spot.

At the same time, my favorite cousin was completing his third (of four) tours as a Huey pilot in Vietnam. I was really hoping to do something significant, as he did, but my body betrayed me. I meet Montagnard and Hmong refugees here all the time, and thay all take one look at me and ask the same question: "Were you in my country?" Sadly, I was not. And they are still being killed.