Prior to the draft lottery, I had received a notice from Selective Service to report for my Armed Forces physical the day after college graduation. I figured that if I was going to be drafted, I would explore volunteering so that I’d have some say in what I did in the Service. I had an offer from the Army to attend basic training and then go directly to Officer Candidate School.
While I was considering the offer, the draft lottery occurred and my birth date was No. 300. A few weeks later I received a letter from my Draft Board canceling the notice to report for pre-induction physical and indicating that the Board’s pool of candidates through No. 123 would provide sufficient candidates. I declined the Army’s offer.
I recall a number of discussions with friends on the effect of the lottery. One was with a friend who was radically anti-military and whose birth date was No. 7 in the lottery. He went to Canada. Another was with a close friend who was on a full ROTC scholarship and whose birth date was No. 366. He served with distinction and we are still in touch.
What is ironic was I went to work for the Army as a civilian in Okinawa and Korea. I was slated to go to Viet Nam but was sent to Korea at the last minute. I was eating lunch one day in the officer’s club and my friend who was No. 366 walked in. He was still in Korea when I got married and served as my best man.
I worked for the Army and Department of Defense for thirty years before transferring to Health and Human Services. Although I never served, I did get part of the experience: I’ve gone down in a Huey and taken incoming fire from North Korean infiltrators. It taught me to have a deep respect and admiration for our service members.