I was 19 years old when my number (44) was drawn in the 1971 lottery (June 19th). I was called to duty in July 1972, having turned 20 by then. I had been married about 18 months and had a little boy about the same age. I went to Ft. Leonard Wood, MO for my basic training, then on to Ft. Sill, OK for artillery school, and then to Germany in December 1972,
I arrived at my post in Zirndorf a couple days before Christmas. The battery was in the field in Grafenwer. I was issued field gear and shipped off to the field on the next mail truck. I was assigned to A battery, 6 battalion, 14th field artillery. Our unit was so under-staffed that our gun crew that was supposed to be eight men was most of the time three. This was the time of draw-down in Nam and some of our guys had been sent to Germany to fill out their enlistments. Most were the laziest guys you had ever seen. But not all–we had a cook that was awarded the silver star in Nam.
I spent about 19 months in Germany and then was sent to the states to be mustered out in July 1974. When I got off the plane in my home town I was going to take a cab to my house. The cab driver put my duffel bag in the trunk then waited to see if anyone else wanted a cab. Several civilians wanted a ride, so the cab driver just threw my duffel bag out onto the sidewalk, and said service guys don’t tip good anyway. Welcome home!
In the summer of 1975 I was instructed to report to Ft. McCoy, WI for two weeks’ training with a National Guard Unit. This was part of my 6 year commitment: two years active Army, two years active reserve and two years inactive reserve. Yes, being drafted for two years was just the active part. I then joined the Illinois National Guard in 1977 but was only in there for a year until I had to get out due to job requirements. I have never regretted my two years’ active service in the military. I will never know what the guys that went to Nam went through, but I have the utmost respect for them.