I was a freshman at the University of Colorado in 1963, when a close friend in the dorm flunked out at the end of the first semester. He joined the Marines and was killed in Viet Nam, all before I finished my freshman year. By the time I finished my Junior year in 1967, I thought I needed to make a plan, as the war seemed to just be getting worse. So I joined the Peace Corps. That would give me two years of II-A deferment, plus another year of II-S to finish my senior year. Plenty of time to get this war wrapped up… I thought.
After serving two years in the Peace Corps in Colombia, I returned home with my new Colombian bride and appeared before my draft board to beg them for a deferment to allow me to finish my senior year. They gave me an incredible gift – a III-A status instead of II-S. They allowed this ‘hardship deferment’, they said, because my Colombian wife spoke no English, and this would give her a year to get oriented–a kind of payback for my service in the Peace Corps. They also explained, with a wink, that if my new wife just happened to get pregnant while I was back in school, then I could stay III-A. (If they had made me a II-S, then the pregnancy would not have counted to go back to III-A. That path had been severed).
For an entire year we charted her temperature twice daily, litmus papers, pregnancy tests every six weeks… it turned into a year in the salt mines! Futility under that kind of pressure!
We watched the draft lottery on TV that night, and I knew it was over for me. My notice came in March, three months before I graduated. The Marines had a 120 day delayed induction program at that time, which allowed me to finish school.
I stepped onto the yellow footprints at MCRD San Diego on Halloween night, 1970.