The night of the first draft lottery I was sitting in a basement of an apartment in Chapel Hill, NC with my buddies waiting for the lottery to start. We all were in college for the college student deferment. When the lottery began everyone gathered around the TV waiting for birthdates to be called for the lottery number assignment. The 1st birthdate and lottery number was called and everyone let out a sigh of relief. The 2nd birthdate and relief; 3rd birthdate and relief; the 4th birthdate was Feb. 14th which was my birthday. Goddamn mother*****ing shit–why me? Everyone looked at me like I had dropped dead. Maybe I had that expression on my face.
Well my shit was over but I stayed and watched the rest of the lottery picks to see who else in the room was going to Viet Nam with me. The next friend’s birthdate called was lottery No. 127. If your number was above 125, you had no reason to worry about getting drafted. Everyone else in the room got high lottery numbers and were cheering, high fiving, and slapping each other on the back. Some guys even forgot about going to class or keeping their deferments. Not me. I kept my deferment for 2 more years until I graduated.
By luck I got into a graduate school program in May of ’71 but got my draft notice in Sept. 1971 to report for active duty in December. I had just reunited with my high school sweetheart, moved to Charlotte for an internship, and decided to get married in Oct. of ’71. What did I have to lose? I figured that I could at least enjoy a few months of marital bliss before going to Viet Nam and getting killed.
Fortunately my local draft board granted me one more year of deferment until I completed my grad school program in ’72. The law changed in November ’71 so that if a guy was classified 1-A and did not go into the Army as of Dec. 31, 1971, he was put into a different draft category.
Safe at home plate. I had fought to stay out of Viet Nam for 4 years and got a pass on a technicality.
And the moral of this story—-stay dedicated to your convictions because "the Lord moves in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform".
By the way, I am still married to my high school sweetheart. But that’s another story.