I graduated high school in 1968. Some of my friends volunteered for the Navy and Air Force to keep from being drafted into the Army and having to go to Vietnam. Others were drafted. I had two friends that walked point in Vietnam and lived to tell about it, although one has since passed away. My very best friend and high school classmate washed out of college and was drafted and went to Vietnam but survived in one piece.

There were five of us friends that graduated high school together in 1968 and we were all staying in a house (574 N Milledge Ave) in Athens, Georgia, going to the University of Georgia. In 1968 you were exempted from the draft if attending college, which was not the case for the guys older than us. We would watch the TV each evening and see the body count of dead soldiers in Vietnam. It was something we became accustomed to, and while I would have proudly served if called upon, we saw little need to leave college life and volunteer for a war that was beginning to look fruitless.
The first lottery was in December of 1969. There was a room full of us guys from Blairsville, Georgia and I can tell you that I was very nervous as I think we all were. I have never had a lot of luck with chances, raffles, or lottery, but me and my friends all won the biggest lottery of our lives that night. The best I remember, the lowest number of all 5 of us was 180 and most of us were well over 200 or in the 300’s and none of us ever had to serve. We all graduated from UGA and have gone on to many different vocations. Interestingly, three of our older friends, after coming home from Vietnam, ended up staying with us in that same house as they finished college after returning from the war in 1970 or ’71.

I always miss the fellowship and prestige I would have gained being in the military and I honor all those who served. But I can not say that I wish I had served in Vietnam, as there is no way to know how it would have impacted my life or that of my family. We lost four lives to the war in our county alone and that was pretty significant, but all my close friends returned home safely and are still living fulfilled lives, all but one who has passed away.