The prospect of being called to Viet Nam was a sobering one. Like many of my colleagues, I felt the war was a waste of lives with no legitimate goal in sight, and I felt genuine sorrow for those who were called. I was fortunate to have a student deferment, but ultimately, that was done away with.
I remember having a discussion with my father about the prospect of finding a medical excuse, or even leaving the country if I was called, but the prospect of leaving everything behind was a very difficult one. Incidentally, it was at that point that I understood for the first time why so many people were caught in the holocaust during WWII–it’s difficult to pick up and leave all you love behind.
I was extremely fortunate, and I owe a debt of gratitude to my late mother. She discovered a loophole in the draft law. At the time, the draft board was announcing the highest number likely to be called in a given year. You could wait until November, when it was a relatively sure thing, then declare that year retroactively as your year of prime eligibility. With a ceiling of 195 announced for 1970, and a draft number of 228, I declared, knowing that I would not be called, and each ensuing year, I would be an additional 365 numbers further from jeopardy.