I remember that day well, the day they drew the draft numbers. I went with my friends at York House over to an early season Duke basketball game in Greensboro. During the timeouts, the announcer would read the latest draft numbers that were drawn. Mine didn’t take long to come out…No. 12.
That took out the guesswork for me. I knew that I would be going in after I graduated. My girlfriend, Amy, decided to marry me anyway. We spent our senior year as married students, awaiting the impending military obligation.
My major was "management services", the last of that business administration major before it was eliminated and the master’s program started up. I also took all the accounting classes, but did not have time to take the CPA exam after graduation, because the draft took me. I’m glad I had a good excuse not to be tempted to take that exam.
I would rather have gone to work immediately after college in my family business. But that had to wait for two years. I took basic training in Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. Then after more training I was stationed at the Pentagon in the office of the Chief of Staff. So I was lucky to avoid being sent to Vietnam.
After my two year service ended I returned to Illinois and resumed my work in the family business. I was a newspaper publisher for 28 years and am now retired.
My military experience did broaden my background and helped me sort through many decisions during my career. While in the service I was exposed to most of the top generals in the Army. I had the chance to watch them in action as they managed the Army. I was surprised at the great leadership and high levels of intelligence that those generals possessed. College discussions tended to depict these generals as dimwitted, but I learned this was not the case, and I developed a great deal of respect for many of them
The military style of performance was not for me, however. In the Army you learn to do the job as you are trained, without thinking. In business I wanted my employees to think on the job and always look for a better way to get the job done. Therefore, the Army experience helped me to understand how not to do the job.
I think in many ways I was a better leader because of the lessons I learned in the Army. It was so different than my other experiences that I was able to challenge many pre-conceived notions.