After graduating from high school in 1962 I got a job in a warehouse. I had no intention of going to college, but after working for a year I began to understand the value of a college education. The company I worked for had a tuition re-imbursement plan so I started attending college at night. Eventually, as the war in Vietnam ramped up, in order to get a student deferment you had to be a full time student. I was working a full time job and going to school 3 nights a week and Saturday mornings in order to get the 12 hours needed as a full time student.
After a year of this I had to make a decision. Either quit work and go to college full time or quit school and get drafted. I decided to quit work and go to college full time, thinking that by the time I graduated, in 3 years, the war would be over. In the fall of 1968 my student deferment was declined and I was re-classified I-A. I contacted my draft board and they said I would remain I-A through my senior year in college and would be drafted after I graduated. I graduated on March 12, 1969 and called my draft board shortly thereafter to inquire on my status. They replied that my draft notice was in the mail. I received the notice on March 20, 8 days after graduation.
Reporting to the draft center on June 6, a group of us were pulled aside and told we were going to be drafted into the Marines. Nothing against the Marines, but by this time I was going on 25 years old and didn’t want to be put with a group of young Leathernecks. Sitting in a room, waiting to leave for Parris Island, there was a knock on the door. The Marine sergeant said that an individual had volunteered and the first person he would ask if they did not want to be a Marine was me. I jumped out of my seat, thanked the guy, and found a seat with the other Army draftees.
All of my friends that had been drafted from Kentucky took basic training at Ft. Knox. They said that since I was a college graduate I would get a good job. I was sent to Ft. Dix, NJ for basic and from there I was sent to Ft. Lewis, WA. From the East Coast to the West Coast. Then, after a short leave, back to Oakland, CA for deployment to Vietnam as an infantryman. After two months in the field the company clerk rotated back to the states and I was chosen to be the next clerk. I spent the last 11 months at the division base camp in Cu Chi, a relatively safe area. Or so we thought. I didn’t find out until years later that underneath Cu Chi was a vast tunnel complex. Books have been written about the tunnels of Cu Chi, and there is a model of the tunnels at the Spy Museum in Washington, DC.
After 13 months and 2 days in Nam I rotated back to the states and was placed in the inactive reserves, since I had less than 6 months of duty left in the Army. Eventually I attended graduate school on the GI bill, and received my MBA courtesy of the government.