BROWSE STORIES

Larry, Missouri, 1969. No. 277: Focus of Conversation

I was living in Hardin House at the time of the lottery. I was a senior at the time and I graduated in January 1970. The draft had a bigger influence on my future career than it did on my education because regardless of the number, I probably would have completed my...

Gary, Michigan, 1969. No. 364: Disbelief and Relief

I was working at the Columbia Missourian that night. I took a quick look at the numbers before going out on a reporting assignment. But I saw only the most recent birth dates picked, and the lottery was still ongoing. Pressed for time, I went to my assignment thinking...

Joseph, Missouri, 1969. No. 137: Three Rabbits From a Hat

I earned a BS in Agricultural Economics from the University of Missouri in May 1970. On June 22, I took a train, for my first-ever train ride, from my hometown of Hermann, Missouri, to St. Louis. On June 23, 1970, I was inducted into the Army to serve my beloved...

Jim, California, 1969. No. 255: When the Wire Bell Rang

Regarding the first draft lottery in 1969, I remember it well. I was working at The Missourian when the lottery was initiated that December night. The draft lottery numbers were released over the AP wire after each group of 20 numbers was drawn. The wire bell would...

Bill, Ohio, 1969. No. 279: More Than Any Civilian Job

In 1969 my roommates and I were seniors at Ohio State. We were all in ROTC and were already committed to serving but there was still drama the night of the lottery. WOSU radio was broadcasting the lottery. They played Herbie Mann's Battle Hymn of the Republic...

David, Virginia, 1970. No. 228: Good Beer, Good Number

I was sitting on a bar stool in a pizza place just above Broadway on Eighth Street in Columbia, Mo. I had a draft Coors in front of me and above, behind the bar, the TV was live as they drew birth dates to match draft lottery numbers. Too young and still not too...

Frank, Washington, 1971. No. 022: Names Etched in Black Marble

Today in 2018 I found out why I did not go to Vietnam in 1972. I entered Colorado College in 1970 amid the controversy over the war. The lottery had begun in 1969 and I knew I would get a number. I knew student deferments were toast. On August 5,1971, I pulled number...

Ron, Missouri, 1969. No. 113: Patching up Amputees

The lottery number changed my life - I knew I would be drafted upon graduation in June 1970. I had already accepted a job in New York, but knew I would have to borrow money for clothes and a car before getting drafted, and then would not be making enough money to...

David, Washington, D. C., 1969. No. 232: In the Gray Zone

The Vietnam War draft lottery was a watershed event in my life, as I suspect that it was for so many others. I entered the University of Missouri in the fall of 1966 as a member of the McDonnell-Douglas Co-op Program in engineering. As the oldest of four children...

David, Missouri, 1969. No. 196: One Over the Limit

I was number 196. I graduated from Mizzou in June 1970 and was called for an army draft physical by mid-June 1970. I was advised during the physical I would probably be drafted in Sept. 1970. During August 1970 a newspaper article appeared that said in St Louis the...

Chris, New Hampshire, 1971. No. 288: Not Necessarily Good

I listened to the lottery drawing on the radio and knew the birthdays of my classmates. Several of them had low numbers. Mine was 288, so I was safe. My low-numbered friends enlisted to have a choice of what they wanted to do. At the time they were saying about half...

Bill, South Carolina, 1969. No. 304: Western Union Teletype

I registered for my draft card in the middle of my senior year of high school in December, 1966, and the draft was definitely on our minds when my class finished high school in 1967. All I knew was that many of my friends were going on to college and 14 of us (3 girls...

Bill, Missouri, 1970. No. 175: The Cost of the Draft

I was a senior at Mizzou the night of the first lottery. I remember the thinking if I got 200 or above, I'd be OK. If I had been born one day earlier, my number would have been 1. If I had been born a day later, my number would have been 12. I got 175. When I...

Rick, Ohio, 1969. No. 324: Obligation to Fulfill

During the fall of 1969, I was in my second year of ROTC at the University of Missouri. I came to Mizzou as a graduate student and enrolled in ROTC after graduation from Western Michigan University. My draft board was located in Bowling Green, Ohio, and the...

Jim, Virginia, 1969. No. 151: Radio at the Game

I remember the draft well. I was a senior at Mizzou. It was December 1, 1969. Mizzou was playing men's basketball that night, a home game in Brewer Fieldhouse. It was more like a barn with wooden bleachers. The draft lottery was going to be broadcast live on the radio...

Martin, New Mexico, 1969. No. 195: The Last Draftee

There was a lottery. You were in or you were out. Not so fast! If you got No. 195, the last number which could be called, you might be in, you might be out. I waited, and finally I was the last draftee out of Buchanan County in 1970. But I had done some planning and...

Richard, Missouri, 1969. No. 107: Don’t Ask Why

My lottery number fell in the lower third of the drawing, earning me a reclassification to I-A in my senior year at the University of Missouri and a subsequent invitation to an April 1970 draft physical at the Selective Service office on Pershing Road in Kansas City....

Chip, North Carolina, 1969. No. 299: Draftee Colonel

In early 1968, my second attempt at college did the same thing as my first: fizzled out. However, I was then classified I-Y which supposedly meant that only when the Soviets landed at Myrtle Beach would I be pressed into military service. The I-Y classification...

Charles, Indiana, 1969. No. 007: A Near Thing

I received number 7 in the first modern time lottery. At the time I was planning to be married in June, 1970 and would complete my BS degree in August of 1970. Plans to find a job vanished and options were considered. I really did not understand how the "falling...

Tim, 1971. No. 365: Like It Was Yesterday

I was in the draft lottery for the men born in 1952. After years of watching the Vietnam War being played out on television I was sure I would get a lousy number. They say 13 is unlucky, but not for me. August 13th ended up with 365! The only anecdote that I remember...

Dennis, 1969. Date Line

29 May 69 grad. H.S. - 7 Aug 69 turned 19 - June 69 1-S-H deferment expired - 26 Oct draft physical passed - 26 Nov draft lottery signed into law - 29 Nov 69 enlisted Ky. Army National Guard - 1 Dec 69 winning lottery # 168 ( 195 called up) - 17 Jan 70 reported to...

Bill, Connecticut, 1969. No. 261: Never Fired a Gun

I remember  a number of us meeting with our girlfriends in their college student lounge to watch the results of the lottery.  At the time we weren't aware how far into the numbers the following year's draft would go.  My birthday was pulled out at the 261st draw but I...

Robert, Michigan, 1969. No. 191:Not Sure Why I'm Alive

I was doing horrible in school, always getting in trouble with the law, hanging around with the bad crowd. I decided I had to change my life, or I knew I would end up in prison. My parents were also not happy with my situation, so they encouraged me to join the...

Glenn, New York, 1969. No. 222: Vietnam, Here We Go

I graduated from high school in Ellenburg Depot , NY, in 1969. I knew the draft lottery was happening soon and I might become elgible for possible infantry time in the Army. Military duty was not new to our family, as my uncles were serving at the time. Some had...

Thomas, Rhode Island, 1971. No. 003: Mother Knows Best

I just graduated high school  in June, 1971 and in August I watched my number come up on the TV screen. At first I didn't know if # 3 was good or bad! It wasn't long. Within a week I received my first notice in the mail. Then I knew it was for real. My Mother kept...

John, Illinois, 1972. No. 003: What Might Have Been

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...

Paul, Canal Zone, 1971. No. 248: More than I deserve

I went to college in the fall of 1970, and got a student deferment from the draft.  Stupidly, I dropped some courses, not realizing that at the end of the school year I wouldn't have enough credits to sustain my deferment.  I was part of the lottery in the summer of...

Steve, North Carolina: No Step Forward

By my mid-teens I knew what a conscientious objector was, and I knew I was one.  I’d always attended Quaker schools, and fully accepted the belief that God is found in every person. Participating in killing other people was unacceptable.I started college in 1964,...

Ted, Virginia, 1969. No. 114: The Luckiest Draftee

I was with a group of my fraternity brothers the night they announced the numbers. One of them actually got #1 but as it turned out my #114 wasn't any better.  Got my induction notice in Sept. 1970 and flew from Richmond, VA to Ft. Campbell, KY for basic training.  At...

Mitchell, New Jersey, 1971. No. 153: That Simple Reality

Deferments were relegated to history by the time I became eligible for call-up, as was only fair. As it turned out, no draft board went above 95 for 1972, which turned out to be the last full year of the draft. Although I took no evasive action to avoid service, to...

Charlie, Georgia, 1969. No. 253: Like Watching the Super Bowl

I graduated from Robert E. Lee high school in Jacksonville in '67.  Guys I knew where already in Vietnam by their own enlistments, including my brother.  I was enrolled in junior college which gave me a deferral for the remainder of '67 and the first half of '68.  I...

Brad, South Dakota, 1969. No. 191: No Regrets Whatsoever

I graduated from high school in 1966.  My dad was a WW-II veteran and I always had it in the back of my mind to eventually enter the service.  I bounced in and out of two different colleges after getting out of high school and in the late fall of 1969 it became...

John, Ohio, 1971. No. 287: Contrary Opinion

The draft ended for me when I received the number 287 in the 1971 lottery. From the  results of previous lotteries, I knew that I had a high enough number that I wouldn't be called. I had grown up with the draft and came to several opinions.I opposed military service...

Bob, Texas, 1972. No. 005: Heard About It on the Radio

The date of my draft lottery was Feb. 2, 1972.  I was riding home from college with my two best friends since high school when we heard about it on the radio.  The news announcer read off the first five dates in order and when he said "and, July 21" as the 5th number...

Eric, Missouri, 1969. No. 136: Fortune Smiled

As a graduating senior – Class of 1970 – I followed the Selective Service Lottery with a great deal of interest. That famous December night in 1969 found a large group of us huddled around the television in my fraternity house. We hung on every number as it was drawn...

Terry, Maryland, 1969. No. 026: Smoothing Sharp Edges

I graduated from Carolina in the spring of 1969, with only a vague notion of what to do with my life. After taking creative writing under Max Steele, I fancied myself a budding novelist; Carolina law school was Plan B. But nothing could happen until the dark cloud of...

Dan, 1971. No. 095: What I Needed to Do

I had drawn number 95 and a good friend of mine had drawn number 96. We just figured that we would both be drafted and that maybe we could end up together. It was in the summer of 1972 when my mother showed up at my work with my draft notice. I can still remember the...

Tom, Missouri, 1969. No. 071: What the Air Force Does

When I entered college in 1965 I knew that no war in our history had lasted over 5 years, and was convinced that Vietnam would not either. Surely I could nurse a II-S deferment for that long.  I'd graduate and live happily ever after!  Well, that part came true.  As...

Robert, Missouri, 1969. No. 050: Learning Our Fate at Midnight

I was a senior student at the University of Missouri in the fall of 1969 and was due to graduate in May of 1970 thereby losing my college exemption. On lottery night I went with all my other Sigma Nu fraternity senior brothers to our favorite beer joint in Columbia,...

Steven, Oklahoma, 1969. No. 274: Women and Children First

My friends and I met at the Heidelburg Tavern to watch the drawing on TV. I went to college because I was able to get a student deferment.  When they did away with that, it was the lottery that protected me.  My number that night was 274 and I was happy because it was...

Robert, Missouri, 1969. No. 013: Lucky Thirteen

The evening of the first lottery drawing, I was listening to the radio in my apartment while shaving and showering in preparation for a date with my wife-to-be, Carol.  I thought I'd heard my birth date announced very early, but I wasn't sure.  They kept repeating the...

Ken, Missouri, 1969. No. 193: Negative Reinforcement

Vietnam conscription was my negative reinforcement to remain in college, not drop out in my sophomore year on account of indecision. When I graduated high school 1965 it was with honors and a full scholarship to VMI (VA Military Institute) if I wanted it. Because of...

David, Minnesota, 1969. No. 001: Fort Benning School for Boys

I enlisted in the US Army Reserve in 1968, being one of the thousands of graduate students whose deferments were cancelled by LBJ in the spring of 1968.  At that time, before the lottery, the draft was applied on the basis of oldest first.  All of us who had held...

Kent, Texas, 1969. No. 234: Never Heard From Again

In November of 1965 while attending Washburn University (as a junior) I was kicked out for violating their rules regarding the use of alcohol.  Within four days of that event I was notified by my local draft board in Wilson County, Kansas to report for a pre-induction...

David, Kansas, 1969. No. 163: Defense Work

I was caught up in it like everyone else at that time. The night they held the lottery, I was busy with other things, and did not know the results until the next day. When I saw that my number was 163, I knew it probably was not high enough to escape the call-up. I...

John Ben, 1969, New York. No. 013: The Licorice Strategy

I knew the moment I found out my number, even though it was very low, that I would not have to serve in Vietnam.  13 has always been my lucky number as it is my birth date.  Indeed, I graduated from the University of Kansas at mid-year and knew no school district...

Mark, Kansas, 1969. Three Outcomes

I was a senior living in a scholarship hall at KU when the lottery numbers were drawn.  I had already been accepted into medical school, so I was deferred.  After my residency, the military had no interest in me anymore.  My two senior roommates had different...

David, 1969. No. 016: No Vietnam

In 1969 my lottery number was 16. I was attending college part time when I was drafted in December 1970, with orders for Ft. Polk (basic) and then Vietnam. So I ran around looking for other options. I enlisted a few days later in the Army Reserve and went to basic...

Bob, Texas, 1969. No. 323: Basic Training Chow Line

I graduated from KU in June of 1969. Local Board 47 in Independence, Kansas had me reclassified to I-A and drafted even before KU mailed my diploma to me. I was standing in a basic training chow line when I found out my lottery number was 323--talk about bad timing....

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