Our fraternity had scheduled a "lottery party" on the night of the lottery but it slipped my mind completely. I had actually gone to the UGA library to handle some homework (proving to myself in later years that I actually did visit the place). I got to my car (67 blue GTO – what a beauty) turned on the radio, and the second date that was announced was my birthday for draft #176. In my home county of Fulton, that was not going to cut it.
Two memories remain in my recollection of the feeling at the Pi Kappa Phi house that night. One was that the winners did not celebrate too much because we were all really concerned about the low-number brothers that we feared were going to war. Most of our ROTC and bigger boys got the coveted high numbers. There were mixed emotions that night. At our school there had up to that point been no campus demonstrations or open talk of not going if called to serve. That never came up. It was just a given that you go and serve your country if asked.
My last fall quarter was wonderful. My girlfriend had graduated earlier in the year and had a good job back in Atlanta working for Coke. She would come up on weekends or I would go home. After my last intermural touch football game that fall quarter I knew the good times were about over. I remember looking over all the young brothers and their dates at the house dining room. They were so full of life. Wishing I could stay with them a little longer I knew my life was about to get real serious, real fast.
I was I-A and had passed my military physical. I still had the option of joining the Navy for 4 years rather than serving in the Marines or Army infantry for 2 years as a draftee. I would decide that move when the orders came to report for duty. One weekday morning before Christmas, I got a hurried call from my fraternity brother John Johnson. He was at Dobbins AFB just up the road telling me that the Marines were taking a few good men into their Air Wing Reserve unit. He and Spunky Good were already signed up, and were filling out the paperwork. I told him I was on that unit’s list and every other Reserve list in the state. He said it didn’t matter, they were taking the next two or three guys through the door. I must have hit 90 on I-285 but got there in time. I very much to this day appreciate that phone call.
My brother made it home alive with several Bronze stars for heroism. It would be 13 years before he got married to start his wonderful family. I served 6 safe and secure years working weekends on F-8 jets for the Marine Corps. I was able to start a career, and start my family immediately. My wife and I were so lucky and fortunate. Several of my fraternity brothers and high school classmates did not make it home from that horible war. Some came home very much injured from their honorable service. Their lives were forever injured as well.