My future wife and I attended a UGA basketball game on the evening of the 1969 draft lottery. We were listening to post-game comments on the radio, as we were driving back to my fraternity house, when the broadcast was interrupted for the live simulcast of the lottery. I will never forget hearing the words…" Number 23- July 24th".
To say that I felt my future plans would now be dictated by this lottery number would be an understatement. While I was not anxious to serve, I would have, if called. However, a very unlikely scenario occurred.
I was scheduled for my pre-induction physical on a Thursday in Atlanta. I had a Latin 111 exam scheduled for the Monday preceeding this physical, as well as a History exam scheduled for that Wednesday.
I was up most of the night on Sunday, studying for my Latin exam, only to learn on Monday morning that our professor was ill and the exam was rescheduled for the next day. Therefore, since memorization was basically required for translating the text, I was up again most of the night on Monday.
After taking the exam on Tuesday, it was another all-nighter on Tuesday evening in preparation for my advanced history exam on Wednesday. After my exam on Wednesday, I played in two softball games that afternoon before driving to my parents’ home in Atlanta. Arriving rather late, and knowing that I would need to leave by 6:30 AM the next morning to drive to the site of the physical, once again I had little sleep, if any.
Every test I took for the physical–lab, vision, hearing, etc.–appeared to be normal until I reached the final test: blood pressure reading. After an initial reading, I was told to sit down for a few minutes; then after the second reading, I was told to lie down for a few minutes; after a third reading, I was told that I had two options. I could spend the night there and have my BP checked the next two mornings or return home and have my BP checked the next two days at Piedmont Hospital.
I opted to go home. I was extremely tired and nervous. Once again, I had little, if any, sleep that Thursday evening. My BP reading on Friday morning was also very high. Same scenario throughout the day and evening on Friday. As a result, my BP reading was again extremely high on Saturday morning. Totally exhausted, I literally slept most of the day on Saturday and Sunday.
Upon my return to Athens, I had my weekly allergy shot on Monday afternoon. I asked the nurse if she would take my BP, which was then 115/75–perfectly normal.
I was classified I-Y instead of I-A for draft purposes because of my blood pressure readings. I was later classified IV-F in 1972. I know that I was lucky but I’m not ashamed that I received this deferred classification.