In the fall of ’69 it was not uncommon for young men like me to enroll in law school in the hope such a move would keep us out of the draft. I didn’t really want to study law, but it was certainly a good alternative to going to Vietnam. I received a full scholarship offer from Washington University in St. Louis, mostly based on being a legacy. My brother graduated from law school there and had been editor of the law review. But about the same time I started in September, my draft board informed me that the law school deferment wouldn’t work for more than one semester.
With that in my head, I lost interest in law school and only went to classes for two weeks. But I didn’t tell the draft board, figuring I’d have til January before my draft notice arrived in the mail. I got to work to see what other options I had. I knew the lottery would be coming up, but didn’t want to take my chances. I appealed my draft status twice based on physical reasons and lost both appeals. By November, desperation was setting in. Finally in November, I heard about a National Guard unit an hour outside St. Louis that had been activated, gone to Vietnam and was de-activating its members upon coming home.
I signed up, felt a great sense of relief and went to my first Guard meeting in December the week before the lottery. I figured my birth date didn’t matter now and was fine with that idea. Until my number came up at 301. I would have never been drafted! Oh well.
My wife and I drove to Florida to watch Mizzou lose the Orange Bowl and I came back to report for basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood in early January. And it turned out I did have physical problems. I reported to sick call my third day of basic, ended up having surgery and washed out of the Guard. My six year commitment was over…so was my worry about the draft.
Not a fun time.