It was the Spring of 1967 and I was concentrating on graduating from high school. The war was probably the third or fourth thing on my mind. First of all, I wanted some time to play and celebrate graduating before heading off to college for more play and celebrating. Needless to say after two semesters of "playing and celebrating", the college put me on probation. About a year later, I receive my draft notice. I boarded a bus to take me to the U.S. Army Inductee Center. I was named the "Sergeant of the Day" by the local recruiter or whoever he was and I thought I was a big shot until I found out that it was my duty to hand out the box lunches to the other draftees.
Three years earlier, I had major knee surgery and I thought they would never take me because of the knee. Wrong. After a humiliating day of ‘bend over and spread ’em’, ahhhh’s, probing and some sort of intelligence test, I finally made it to the final station. The Army Doc said my blood pressure was elevated (I wonder why?) so he told me I would be called back soon and no longer than six months. In the meantime, I received a 1-Y draft status. Six months later, I received a 1-A status. This was about December of 1969. For some reason that I still do not know, I was never called up.
My friends were drafted earlier and were right in the thick of it all. One of my friends even wanted me to join the Marines on the ‘Buddy System’ in 1968. I needed a little more time to think after reading and hearing about a thing called the "Tet Offensive".
One friend was killed in a scouting mission around Quang Tri. Stepped on a booby trap scouting out an old French fort. They sent him home in a box without a scratch on him. His brother came home about 1970 and was wasted as an alcoholic and a horrendous case of nerves caused by calling in firepower directly overhead in not just one, but several firefights.
For the past 40 years, I have felt that I did not do my part. I should have volunteered and went with my friend into the Marine Corp on the ‘buddy system.’ I never protested the war. I always thought we were fighting for a good cause. However, sometimes I think I was in the minority. I wish I could have it to do over again. I would have volunteered. I hate telling a story about me not going because of high blood pressure. I have worked all of my life and raised a family and kids with high blood pressure, but I never served my country.
I have much respect for those who served. My dad and all of his brothers served in WWII and I was always so proud of him and them. I guess now as a 61 year old man, I will go to my grave feeling empty about a vacant part of my life. I hope that someday, somebody will accept my sincerest apology for not doing my duty.