I was drafted on March 18, 1971, two weeks before I graduated from high school. I was 18. I went to the recruiter office in Portland Oregon and asked if they could wait until I graduated before I went to get killed. They said yes. But then my brother-in-law who had just returned from a hitch in the US Navy told me to enlist, so I did and went anyway.
I was on the USS Oklahoma City CLG 5, the flagship of the 7th fleet. Also the USS Tripoli LPH 10 which was the flagship of the CTF 78 Operation End Sweep, which along with many other ships swept the mines out of Haiphong Harbor, the last active military operation of the war.
I am one of the fortunate ones who came home.
I will never forget the times I had there. We once spent 120 days at sea, constantly shelling with the 15 inch guns on the Okie City. I can smell the gun powder and and hear the sound of the big brass hitting the deck. Spent some time in the holy stone polishing her teak deck. I can still smell to this day the Jet A fuel for the CH 46 and 53 helicopters on the flight deck of the of the old Tripoli. I have many pictures of those days.
God bless and keep our military safe in these very troubling times.