Throughout my early years at K.U., I knew that mandatory military service was an issue I would need to address eventually. I was not shying away from it, but it was just easier to postpone it until after graduation. My student deferment would expire in June 1970, and I decided to enter the draft then, if no other options were available. The K.U. I entered in the fall of 1966 was greatly different than the one I graduated from in 1970.
When the lottery system was announced, the rumor going around campus was that once the list of 365 numbers according to date of birth was announced, only about the first 150 would be called. I was ready to see where I fell on the list. When the announcement was made, my birth month and date was selected on the 17th draw. I now knew my status!
As providence would have it, on February 1, 1970, I was in the hallway in Summerfield Hall waiting for class to start, and several guys mentioned that they had just joined the National Guard. This was unheard of, because virtually all units were full and had long waiting lists for enlistment. I asked where they had enlisted, and they said Kansas City, KS
The following day, a friend and I cut class and headed to K.C. The Unit I visited, the 69th Infantry Brigade, had just returned from 2 years Active Duty serving at Fort Carson, CO. Because of their deactivation, many slots were now open. I believed that the option of joining the Guard would allow me to spend the minimum time initially, but then serve for six years after graduation. I enlisted on the spot.
In my case, looking back at the lottery, this was one of those forks in the road of life that when followed, leads us in unexpected directions. After a year in the Kansas National Guard, I decided that I might as well maximize my experience and went to Officer Candidate School. Little did I know that I would stay a Guardsman for 32 years, and go on to command units from platoon to the largest brigade in the state.
Now in retirement, I am enjoying the benefits of military service and the friends I’ve made as comrades in arms. I never would have gone this direction were it not for my low lottery number. Life leads us in unknown directions, and I would not change a thing!