I was an undergrad at UCLA in 1969. I was opposed to the war and an anti-war protester. As the lottery approached, my father asked me what I would do if I got a low number (meaning immediately drafted). I said I would serve because although I was opposed to the war, it was my duty as a citizen. I did not attempt to go into the reserves like some famous politicians, and I did not cheat like another President from the Democratic Party. My number was 106. As the fall of 1970 approached I got called for a physical. In Westwood, it took 2 hours, which consisted of standing around in my underwear (briefs). It was completely cursory, but I was an athlete and in excellent health. Guys were going crazy with schemes. Some guys had files of medical history of supposed bad knees or other silly excuses (sorry, to me this was a character test). All of these were summarily rejected. Other guys claimed to be gay–also summarily rejected. In the end, they didn’t get to my number–at least in Westwood. I went to the S. S. office every day and got to know all of the old ladies. They kept telling me that I wouldn’t get called, but I kept going in to check. They were right. No. 102 was the highest number reached, and I breathed a sigh of relief and went to Law School. Two of my friends did get called. Both came back. One was assigned as an MP in NC. and the other was a medic on a helicopter flying into combat to pick up wounded soldiers.
Today I am sorry that I didn’t serve. I feel like I shirked my duty in a free society. I still don’t agree with the war. But as a citizen, I think we should have a draft–of everybody. We live in a democratic society with many benefits, but we also have one obligation — to protect our nation–and our elected leaders decide when we go to war, whether rightly or wrongly. As a man, I wonder if I could have faced death. My father-in-law served in the Pacific in WWII as a cook on a destroyer. He saw limited combat. My father was an engineer on the Manhattan Project. My younger daughter just finished her application to West Point. I am the broken link in the chain. Today, I am a wealthy successful businessman, and certainly I am glad my life did not end in the jungles of Vietnam, but as I look back, I still have a sense of regret.