BROWSE STORIES

Joel, New York, 1969. No 173: The Rabbi's Road Not Taken

On the day of the first lottery drawing, December 1, 1969, I was taking tests and interviewing for a place in the Rabbinical School of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City.  At the conclusion of a full day of testing and questioning, I headed directly for...

Jeff, Wisconsin, 1969. No. 247: Comptroller of Selective Service

I was a junior at the UW at the time of the drawing, and felt lucky to receive 247.  I was well acquainted with someone heavily involved with the lottery -- the comptroller of the Select Service System: my father.  He claimed to have had no influence on my number!

Larry, Virginia, 1969. No. 350: From Right to Left

I entered the University of Wisconsin in the fall of 1965 thinking I was a conservative Republican, which reflected not only my upbringing, but also the collective views of my extended family. Lots happened in the next few years (anti-war protests, King's...

Tom, Virginia, 1969. Mandatory ROTC/Disabled Vets

I graduated high school in Green Bay, Wisconsin in 1966 at the height of the war.  My first year of college at St. Norbert in DePere, I was required to take ROTC because the school was so small they needed all the freshmen and sophomores to mandatorily take it to...

Jonathan, Nevada, 1969. No. 250: A Zillion X-Rays

Graduated from U. of Wisconsin-Madison after the then usual 4 years in 1970. I considered dropping out in my freshman year to see if I could have more fun pursuing a writing career. (I was making a little money being a part-time campus reporter for the Milwaukee...

Mark, Wisconsin, 1970. No. 39: Boys in the Band

I was a senior at UW Madison and attended a basketball game the night of the lottery. I came home and my close friend who knew my birthday thought my number was in the two hundreds. The news came on and I found out I was No. 39. I was not the soldier type, not a...

Jeffrey, New Mexico, 1969. No. 373: One Step Ahead of The Physical

In June of 1969 I had completed four years and all but about a half dozen of the credits I needed for a Bachelor's degree in Nuclear Engineering when I headed off to Memphis, TN for a summer job with Chicago Bridge & Iron Co.  Toward the end of the summer my draft...

Mark, Illinois, 1969. No. 273: Chicago Steel

Leading up to the draft lottery, the news media reminded us of the importance of the numbers. Those with low numbers would most certainly be drafted and soon. The lucky guys with higher numbers, basically above 180 would be "safe".On lottery night there were some that...

Jim, Minnesota, 1969. No. 2: Brothers in Arms

I was at UW-Madison during those "interesting" years. I was able to attend college via a generous scholarship through the NROTC. Following my graduation in January, 1970 with a degree in journalism, I was destined to go directly into the Navy. I did so, serving two...

Ray, Massachusetts, 1969. Three Reasons to Drink

Lottery night was a crazy night with everyone having a reason to get a little drunk.  One third, including, me celebrated that we were not going.  One third commiserated because they were going.  And, one third agonized because they didn't know - though...

Edward, New Jersey, 1969. No. 312: Love and Summer School

In the summer of 1969 I went to NYU summer school to get enough credits to quickly become a teacher. I returned to school for the fall semester and the 1969 (first ever) lottery. The night of the lottery we were on our way to a basketball game and listening intently...

Frank, Arizona, 1969. Double No. 1: 9/14 & The Letter "J"

I never won a lottery before, and haven't won one since, but in 1969 I won bigtime.  I was a Number 1 - Number 1.  I won the jackpot!  How lucky was I?  The first birthdate selected was my birthday, September 14 and if that weren't lucky enough, the first letter drawn...

Elliot, 1969. No. 321: Mother's Tears

One month before graduation, my father and mother leaned on me to join the Army Reserve.   For the first time in my life, I witnessed my mother cry because she thought I'd be off to Vietnam shortly after graduation so I relented from my youthful view that I wouldn't...

Tim, Minnesota, 1970. No. 27: General of the Guard

I was a senior at UW-Madison and received number 27.  I knew that I would be drafted if I didn't enlist so I applied for Air Force pilot school and the National Guard.  The National Guard called first so I enlisted in the Wisconsin Army National Guard.  After my Basic...

Russ, Wisconsin, 1969. No. 100+: Indian Health Service/Wounded Knee

I remember sitting in the apartment with my roommates watching the lottery.  One had a very low number, I was in the low hundreds and two had "safe" numbers.  I graduated in 1970 and received approval to begin graduate school.  In December, I received a letter from my...

Henry, Pennsylvania, 1969. No. 350s: Defeat from Victory

I was a supporter of the war...conservative before my time. Because I did support the war, I planned to enlist if drafted, so I wasn't particularly worried, although I was very frustrated by the war protesters and main stream media undermining support within the...

William, North Carolina, 1969. No. 362: No-Fly Regrets

In 1969, I had applied to, and been accepted for, Air Force ROTC.  But, I knew it was unlikely I would get pilot opportunities because of vision.  I received the acceptance letter before the lottery, with a deadline for acceptance of the slot falling after the lottery...

Mark, 1969. No. 59: Ski Accident Lucky Break

Since I was 24 in 1969 and would soon no longer be eligible for a student deferment from the military I anxiously awaited my draft number.  When I learned that my lottery number was 059,  I was worried.  The Draft Resistance Union was actively helping infom people of...

Dave, Florida, 1969. No. 21: From Dump Trucks to B-52s

I was married and had a baby daughter my senior year at the University of Wisconsin which, at the time, had many anti-war protesters filling the streets. Working three jobs and carrying the full load of credits, I stayed busy to say the least. Bar tending, working...

Ray, Wisconsin, 1969. No. 8: C.O. Status–Low Pay in the USA

There were 7 of us renting a house on Milton St and we were all eligible that first lottery.  Six of the 7 got numbers under 50, and the 7th was over 350.  It goes without saying that the week following the lottery is more than a bit fuzzy.  All the rules had...

Marvin, Illinois, 1969. No. 212: Nixon's Promise

After graduation from the University of Wisconsin, I was waiting for my number (212) to be called.  I was called to take my physical with several others from my old High School.  I remember of the seven of us that took the train into Chicago, four of them had...

Dave, Florida, 1969. No. 99: Join the Navy, See the World

When I knew my lottery number.. which was 99... in a year where everyone was going up into the 300's if I remember right... it was that fact that made me ask myself... "Do I want to dig fox holes when I graduate from college... or do I want to go in the service under...

Dragon, Wisconsin, 1971. No. 124: Fist of Fury

I remember I was a senior at the U of W - Oshkosh.  I went to the dorm that night to visit friends and watch the lottery.  My number came up 124 and I was worried because I had gone through my four years of college deferment and was heading for Lincoln, Nebraska for...

Larry, Virginia, 1969. AFROTC and the Voice of America

I don't know what my number was-- didn't care as I had an AFROTC scholarship my senior year. Served 5 yrs in the Air Force, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Marin County, CA, and Washington, DC. My AF experience in electronics and intelligence/security probably helped...

James, California, 1969. No. 305: Outed by LBJ

I knew that I would not accept induction into the military.  The lottery was just going to determine the reason I would not be inducted.  If my number was low, I would have to choose between leaving the country or leaving the closet.  Since I was lucky enough to be...

Jerry, North Carolina, 1969. No. 296: Keeper of the List

My story is short.  I listened to the first lottery on the radio or TV in my dorm room (I can't remember which).  As the birth dates were called I wrote each one down in order.  In the anxiety of the moment I was relieved as 295 other dates were announced before...

Pic, North Carolina, 1969. Four Years, No Tears

Don't recall my exact lottery number. Believe it was in the 30s. I made a genius move and enlisted in the USN for 4 years...3 years 48 weeks. Spent 15 - 16 months on Guam and 24 1/2 months in and out of San Diego including 2 Western Pacific cruises. Learned much....

Jim, Georgia, 1969. No. 333: Peaceniks Marching

My number was 333, which was a very fortunate number, and has made me a believer in 3 (and multiples of 3) as my lucky numbers ever since. If I had lotteryed at number 1 like my friend Jim S. did, I would have tried to get into grad school as fast as I could, or...

Tim, 1969, North Carolina. No. 12: NROTC, USS F. D. Roosevelt

I was enrolled in Navy ROTC so my low draft number was irrelevant.  Ever since a Boy Scout trip to Norfolk Naval Station, I had wanted to be a naval officer. I spent the summer after my graduation/commissioning at Brunswick, Georgia attending Combat Information Center...

Steve, North Carolina, 1969. No. 363: Pinball Oblivion

I forgot the date of the lottery, so while the birthdates were being picked, I was playing pinball at a local Chapel Hill pub, oblivious that my future was playing out on tv. The next day (I believe) I saw the list of 365 scroll down my tv, and was astounded when mine...

Fred, California, 1971. The Upside of Migraines

My story is very simple. I received a number that required me to go through the process of being possibly drafted. I have always had serious migraine headaches so I was fortunately dismissed with a 4-F status. I disagreed with our government's policy towards Vietnam...

Bill, Virginia, 1969. No. 123: Lottery Flashbacks

I was a junior at UNC and remember sitting in my dorm room with several friends, watching on TV as the numbers were called during that first lottery. A lot of "dark humor" filled the room as we waited. Among my friends in the room, I turned out to have the first...

Josh, New York, 1969. No. 227: NROTC and Destroyer Escort Duty

I arrived at UNC in the fall of 1967 at the height of the Vietnam War.  My father, a former drafted combat infantryman in WWII, advised me to join the Navy and be an officer.  I was accepted into NROTC and began my Navy training.  At the beginning of my junior year in...

Bill, Alabama, 1969. No. 263: The View From Ft. Shafter

I remember listening with some friends as the numbers were drawn and finally mine came up - 263.  Oh shit I said.  I would have never had to go.  You see I was listening at Fort Shafter, Hawaii.  I had been in the Army 11 months.  Oh well!

Ralph, Arkansas, 1969. No. 328: Cold Night At The Drive-In

The draft lottery was on the day before my 21st birthday in 1969. One of my best friends had been forced to drop out of Carolina for a couple of semesters because of mononucleosis and was living at home in Burlington and taking some classes at Elon before returning to...

Randy, North Carolina, 1969. No. 334: Lucky Memento Draft Card

I went to the North Carolina basketball game that night. After the game, I turned on the car radio and they were giving a recap. I came in on the broadcast about number 130 and listened with great anxiety. After they got up to number 300, I started to think I was...

John, North Carolina, 1969. No. 169: Army Reserve Squad Leader

I think everyone remembers the lottery, especially the 1969 lottery.  I think the whole Lambda Chi fraternity joined in the TV room to learn their fate.  My birthday was March 15th and my number was 169. One of my closest fraternity brothers Newt was 165. I was on the...

Phil, Georgia, 1969. No. 329: Navy Medical Corps

I got number 329 in the first draft lottery, so I was pretty much assured of not getting called.  I revoked my education deferment and exposed myself to the draft when I started medical school in 1971. The medical draft continued to age 35, but according to those I...

James, North Carolina, 1969. No. 225: Not Called, A Few Regrets

I learned my lottery number on my way back from Carmichael Auditorium in Chapel Hill, after a UNC basketball game.  It was 225.  I didn't know quite what to make of it:  it was high enough to make me think there was a chance I would not be drafted, but not high enough...

Ronnie, South Carolina, 1969. No. 38: National Guard Medic

We watched the lottery at the Sigma Nu house. When my number came up I thought I would end up in Vietnam. I got on several waiting lists for reserves and National Guard. Joined the NC guard in Feb 1970. Left for basic training May 12. Before that I took all of my...

Tod, Pennsylvania, 1969. No. 232: Naval ROTC and Z-gram Handlebar

Of course I recall the draft lottery well. My number was 232, but I was already a NROTC "contract" student at UNC at the time of the drawing. I graduated from Carolina as an Ensign in the Navy, commissioned by Admr. Elmo "Bud" Zumwalt, who had just been appointed...

Peter, Connecticut, 1969. No. 285: Honks and Fingers

We all crowded into the TV room at the fraternity house and waited anxiously for the first ball to be drawn.  As numbers were called out, one brother and then another would cry out "NO" or sometimes an expletive.  I kept expecting my birthday to be called next.  But...

Todd, North Carolina, 1969. No. 311: Naval ROTC and Orthodontics

My birthday drew number 311 in the 1969 lottery while in undergraduate school.  This meant that there was little to no chance of being drafted. However, when I went to dental school, this all changed.  Being single meant there was a reasonable chance I could be...

Fred, Maryland, 1969. No. 8: Out of the Closet, Out of the Fight

It was the night of the lottery...we all gathered in a Royal Park apartment to party and watch the results..I was number 8..September 7th..1948...but we must have been cursed...all of us from Winston-Salem that went to Reynolds High...had lottery numbers under...

Mark, New York, 1969. No. 208: A Free Man in Munich

I lived in Avery dorm and on the night of the drawing the 6'10" center of the basketabll team was crowing after the basketball game that he had number 1--but of course his height exempted him from service. 208 was my dorm room number and draft number and put me in...

Tom, Massachusetts, 1969. No. 325: I-O and Veteran Care

My number was 325. I was planning on going to medical school, but that deferment extended eligibility so the army could draft you as a physician until age 36. Although the high number provided safety, it also inspired me. I applied for and was granted I-O...

Greg, Massachusetts, 1969. No. 129: I-O and Peaceful Service

1969-1970 was my senior year in college. I remember watching the first draft lottery on the TV that some guys had across the hall from my room in Old East dormitory; the same TV had informed us of the events at Kent State only weeks before. The lottery was held on my...

Phil, New Jersey, 1969. No. 359: Bad Luck/Good Luck

I remember the draft lottery well.  One of the first things I'd done freshman year (1968) was to visit a draft counselor, to see what I could do to insulate myself from selection.  I had no idea my natural bad luck at cards and prize drawings was all I was going to...

Richard, Georgia, 1969. No. 161: Naval Aviation OCS

Subsequent generations will no doubt have difficulty understanding the anxiety we felt that night, when 366 numbers were drawn that, in many cases, would determine our fates, including even whether we could expect to see our 25th birthday. Like the early Mercury...

Fred, Georgia, 1969. No. 258: Driving Lester Maddox

There were three reasons to get drunk that night:1. Your number was higher than 175 and you were safe from the draft,2. Your number was lower than 135 and you were going to be drafted, or3. Your number was between 135 and 175 and nothing at all was concluded by the...