I was a full-time student at Madison, but had my status changed to I-A because I submitted my draft deferment papers to my local North Carolina draft board a few weeks late. I appealed with all the proper papers, but was turned down 3-0, and was told no further appeals were possible when the decision was unanimous.
A few weeks later I received orders to go to Milwaukee for my induction physical. I heard about guys who put peanut butter up their butts, but I just couldn’t see doing that. I settled for telling my interviewer that I was homosexual, which wasn’t true. I didn’t act out or anything and I assume it was an obviously lame excuse and that the guy didn’t "buy" it for a moment. I was sent on to the next stage of the physical. A doctor thinking himself funny walked by the twenty or so guys lined up in our underwear and pretended to look in each of our ears. He looked down at his watch and completely missed one kid. Some kids laughed, but I found it and the whole experience maddening and degrading.
I assumed I would have to choose between Canada and Vietnam within a few weeks, once I found out that I had passed the physical. Then came the draft.
I was living in Elm Drive B, a dorm out along Madison’s Mendota Lake. We gathered around the TV the night of the draft and watched them pull birthdays out of a bin not unlike today’s weekly lotteries. One of my dorm buddies John C. sat smack in front of the TV watching each date getting pulled out. He occasionally chatted people up, getting up every so often for a break. Someone must have been writing everything down, because I came and went and just called out to see if my birthday had been drawn. Well, we were all watching closely to see if we’d sneak by the magic number, 167 I believe, and by god I lucked out. Mine was called at 310; my brother’s at 330. (I called him in N.C. to check.) Oh and my buddy John? He got all the way through to 365 without getting called, but he went from ecstasy to despair as he checked through the list again to find his date at No. 3. He packed up and fled for years, the FBI occasionally stopping by his parents’ home. He made it unscathed until the amnesty.
I never had to make that tough decision. To this day, I cannot say what I would have done.