Right after the lottery drawing, my roomate and I decided we would go to Greensboro and take the civil service exam to join the NC National Guard. My number was 140, and my roomate’s was 100, and we knew that we would probably be drafted as soon as we graduated. We had heard that there was a two-year wait to get into the National Guard, so we figured if we took the test at the beginning of the spring semester 1970, we could be called to report for the Guard about the time we graduated in 1972.
We took the exam in early January and went back to Chapel Hill to resume our college studies. About three weks later, we both received telephone calls from the NC National Guard, and to our horror and surprise, they wanted to know how soon we could report for Basic Training. Apparently, we both did very well on the exam AND there was a critical need for MPs in the National Guard due to the race riots that were occurring at the time. Just our luck! While we didn’t want to go to Vietnam, we didn’t want to interrupt our college education in the middle of our sophomore year, either! We asked to be allowed to finish the semester, but the recruiter who called said that we would probably only get this one chance. We both declined.
Like so many things in life, this unfortunate situation eventually worked out for us. By the time we were seniors, the draft was winding down, and I even dropped my student deferment. Our numbers were never called, and we were never drafted. I decided that I was going to graduate and get started on my career, whatever it was going to be, and never look back.
In retrospect, however, I think not having served in the armed forces during the Vietnam era has made me appreciate all those men and women who did in a very deep and emotional way.