One month after graduation from Mizzou in May 1969 I received my draft notice, ordered to report for induction at the end of September. Two days after my draft notice I got my acceptance letter from the Peace Corps. Had I gotten the Peace Corps letter before my draft notice, I could have gotten a draft deferment for the two-year typical Peace Corps service.
I was drafted in the last month before the lottery began, and my lottery number 301 would have kept me safe from the draft. One of my friends got his draft letter the same day as I got mine. He had been accepted into grad school, so he appealed to the draft board. They turned him down, but it delayed his notice by one month, which put him into the lottery. His lottery number was high enough that he wasn’t called, so he went to work as a quality control engineer instead of going to grad school.
The month I was to be inducted was scheduled to have 20% of inductees assigned to the Marines. I didn’t like those odds, so I volunteered to enter the Army a month earlier than my scheduled date. I reported on August 29, 1969 and was sent to Fort Leonard Wood for basic training. After basic training, I was ordered to stay at FLW as permanent party. Based on my experience and test scores, they classified me with “civilian acquired skills” and made me a payroll clerk. I worked in a special unit that processed AWOLs and deserters from all branches either back into service or gave them some type of discharge, depending on their circumstances.
Two months later I made PFC and our commanding officer, a Lt. Colonel, made me an acting sergeant and put me in charge of our 8 person section. Every one outranked me including a civilian GS5. I think no one else wanted the job. I reorganized the section and we managed to catch up a big backlog of work in a couple of months.
I stayed at FLW until early June, 1971, when I was allowed an early out to attend grad school at Mizzou. I met my future wife, Cherie, at a football game. We decided to get married in November 1972, so I quit grad school to get a job. Even though my degree wasn’t in accounting, I was hired by a big downtown CPA firm as a junior accountant, eventually becoming a CPA myself. After a few years I started my own CPA firm and have made my living self-employed ever since.
Since I had 6 semesters left on the GI bill education benefits, I went to St Louis University part time until I was awarded a Master of Finance degree. My GI bill benefits added up to more than I was paid in the army.
We have been married for almost 46 years, with 3 children and 3 grandchildren. I’m sure my life would have been much different if I hadn’t been drafted.