I enrolled at Kansas University in the fall of 1966 from a small town in southwest Kansas. The Viet Nam war was on and there were occasional protests on campus in the late 60s. On the day the lottery numbers were announced, all of us in the Sigma Nu fraternity gathered in front of the television to see what number we would get. Some guys were emotional when their birthday and lottery number were announced. I got number 127 and was absolutely sure that I would be called up.
I was going to graduate in December 1970, needing summer school and an extra semester since I had waited until my junior year to declare a major, which was Microbiology with the intent of going to Dental School. With number 127, I knew that military service was going to be a fact of life; I never considered looking for ways out of it.
I first talked to the Army about letting me graduate before calling me up, but they would not make any guarantees. Two young Navy recruiters visited our fraternity one evening and I was interested in their pitch about Naval Aviation. The Navy allowed me to graduate, then called me up in October 1971 for Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, FL. I was commissioned in March 1972 and served as a fighter pilot in the Navy for 26 years, and reached the rank of Captain. I accumulated over 1,000 carrier landings, commanded two fighter squadrons and was Commander, Fighter Wing Pacific at NAS Miramar in San Diego, CA.
I retired from the Navy in 1998 and look back very fondly and proudly on my Navy career. I thank the Navy for giving me the opportunity to serve. Draft number 127 and the Army’s refusal to work with me on graduation sent me down the path of a very rewarding Navy career.