I remember I was sitting at the kitchen table with my Mom listening to the numbers being called on the radio. I was in college at the time, but we did not have student deferments in that time period. I was the 12th of 13 children, the youngest of 6 boys. My oldest brother had served in Korea. A brother-in-law also served in Korea. Two brothers had spent time in the National Guard, one during the Cuban missile crisis. I remember they pulled number 3 for my birthday. I would turn 19 on August 3, 1972. My Mom had tears rolling down her cheek.
I was just kind of stunned. I knew that I would be taken with the first call. I checked into joining the Navy, as the war in Vietnam was already extremely unpopular. In the end, I decided to wait for the draft and accept my fate.
The ride to Chicago for my physical was comical. Be in Bloomington at 3:00 a.m. and sit and wait. When we got to Chicago, guys started doing all kinds of crap around me to fail their physical, taking pills and such. Kind of a humiliating and humbling experience. I was a kid from a small town, pretty naive. When Nixon said nobody from that year would be inducted, it was a relief, but at the same time tinged with guilt. I have wondered many times how different my life would be if I had been called and served in Vietnam. Haunting.
[Ed. note: The fourth lottery of the Vietnam era was held on February 2, 1972. It applied to men born in 1953, and determined the order of call for 1973. Since there were no draft calls in 1973, no one subject to that lottery was inducted.]