I was a third year undergraduate at UCLA when the first lottery was held. I received No. 91 which was considered a low number at the time, and with it, an almost certainty of being drafted once my 4 year student exemption expired in June of 1971. I lived on the 6th floor of Hedrick Hall on the UCLA campus among a closely knit group of about 70 to 75 students. I remember some of the guys getting numbers in the 30’s or 40’s and one particular dormmate named Mike W. was celebrating in a very boisterous manner. Mike was an ROTC member, an avid political right-winger and was aiming for a military career. He had received No. 337 and was really rubbing it in. Experts knowledgable about the draft said that numbers above 200 were safe from the draft while those below 100 were almost sure to go in.
As 1969 rolled into 1970 and then 1971, I realized my options for avoiding the draft were limited. Conscientious Objection would not work and I did not want to leave the country. A medical or psychiatric exemption was unlikely. I had a vague notion of hiring an attorney to "manufacture" an exemption for me, but that would be expensive.
Early in 1971 I heard about a group of UCLA Law students offering draft counseling pro bono. I made an appointment, went in to speak to them and received a typed set of sheets detailing step by step how to appeal a draft classification through a lengthy legal process and effectively "wait them out". According to the draft counselors, if their instructions were followed to the letter, using the maximum allowable time between the steps of the process, it would take almost 2 years to exhaust all appeals. During the 2 years, theoretically there would be sufficient numbers of younger draft eligible men coming on stream to satisfy the military. Using the 2 year appeal estimate, I would be 24 years of age by the end of my appeal process.
I began my appeal process the day I received my new draft classification of I-A in July of 1971. I don’t remember all the details of the various steps, but I do remember appearing in front of my local draft board in Gardena, Calif. which was followed by receipt of a denial letter from them which was then followed by a return letter from me appealing the denial. This was after waiting the maximum allowable number of days between the letters. By the summer of 1972 I was getting ready to drive up to Sacramento to appear in front of the California State Draft Board. Before I could make the trip, the news broke that President Nixon had dismantled the draft in preparation for changing over to an all-volunteer army. I had successfully "waited them out" and it only took one year.