I married in December 1968, during my senior year at UNC, totally unaware that being married disqualified me for enlistment in the Army, Navy, and Air Force reserves. The National Guard did enlist married men, but they had a 3 year waiting list to get in. The War was hot, both in Vietnam and here in this country. I didn’t want any part of it. As Spring and graduation approached, I started sweating it. I was reclassified to I-A by the draft board in May 1969, even before I graduated.
No company was interested in hiring anybody with a I-A classification. My wife was working as an RN, but I couldn’t get a job and after graduation we moved in with her parents. I contacted a Coast Guard recruiter right after graduation. I didn’t think the Coast Guard had anybody in Vietnam (I was wrong!). I told the recruiter that I was about to be drafted. He said they had a 6 month waiting list to be inducted but if the draft board sent me for a physical to let him know and he would see what he could do. Within the same week in June, I got my letter to report for a physical. I went, then called the Coast Guard recruiter. He said something about already meeting his quota for the month but would get me next month.
The following week, I got my "GREETINGS from the President" letter, and I was officially drafted. I called the Coast Guard recruiter again to tell him it was too late–I was already drafted. He told me to come to his office immediately, in Greensboro. I did and he swore me in on the spot and back-dated the paperwork to the day before the draft letter date. Welcome to the Coast Guard son!
I reported to Cape May, New Jersey on September 9th 1969. During boot camp I was shocked to learn that the Coast Guard did have men in Vietnam, patrolling the rivers. I was scared that I was going to Vietnam anyway. The lottery happened after I was already in the Coast Guard and my number was in the 300’s but all that was academic for me. I lucked out and spent my 4 years in the Coast Guard in Wilmington, NC, Portsmouth Va., and Norfolk Va. I actually enjoyed most of it. In a sign of the times, almost all the enlisted men I served with in the Coast Guard were college graduates, and a few has post graduate degrees. I entered service as a Seaman’s Apprentice, "struck" for Storekeeper and was discharged in 1973 as a First Class Petty Officer. I served in three units, the USCG Cutter Mendota, the Coast Guard Supply Depot, and the USCG Buoy Tender Conifer. I never regretted my 4 years in the Coast Guard as it kept me out of Vietnam and the horror many of my classmates endured.