I was a junior at NC State living with a couple of classmates in an apartment off campus on the night of the fateful first lottery. Two of us got low numbers and the third guy lucked out with a number over 200. The guy with the other low number was already in Air Force ROTC so it wasn’t life-changing for him. And I still had a year and half of student deferment left which seemed like forever at that age.
As I was getting within a couple months of graduation I decided it was time to face facts. I had already been turned down for the job I wanted because of (doubtless, although unstated) my low draft number. I decided to scoot across Western Blvd to the Reserve Center and see about signing up. They told me there was a reserve medical unit meeting in Durham that night and I should be there at the appointed hour for a physical. I was and they did. As Army physicals go, this one was pretty laid back. I passed, they gave me a copy of the paperwork and I was on my way.
A couple weeks later I got my notice from Selective Service to report to the induction center in Charlotte for a draft physical. I showed up as instructed with my paperwork from Durham in hand. I proceeded to take the written test with everybody else then showed the official my paperwork, which seemed to both surprise and annoy him. He conceded I would not need to take the whole physical again but I would need to stay there the rest of the day anyway while everybody else went through the rest of the process.
By the time I graduated I had been sworn into the Army Reserve unit in Charlotte. With no civilian job, I attended weekend Reserve drills and waited for my orders to basic training. I reported to Ft Knox, KY, on Labor Day weekend, 1971, and to Ft Sill, OK, in January. In April my active duty was over and I reapplied for the job that I’d been denied earlier. This time (surprise) I was hired and I’ve been there 37 years.
It’s still not clear if I would have been drafted and, if I had been, I probably would not have gone to ‘Nam. Although my six years as a "weekend warrior" was a pain at times, I don’t regret the decision or the experience. It was certainly easier than what a lot of guys went through and I got a glimpse of what it takes to defend this country that guys with the high numbers didn’t get.