I had been ‘drafted’ a year earlier in 1968 as I completed my senior year of college. I had gotten married that summer, and was immediately ‘greeted’ for a chance at exotic travel and adventure (in Vietnam). My new wife started graduate school, and I worked while waiting for the orders to appear. Those orders came to report to the induction center around 6 or 7 in the morning on an early, cold and wet December day.
We were taken to an Army hospital for the pre-induction physical. One of the first activities was for all of the draftees to line up and count off by fours. I was a three. The Fours were asked to step forward, welcomed to the United States Marine Corp, and given a pass to proceed directly to San Diego for an intense training session before being forwarded on to Vietnam.
During my senior year in college I had fallen prey to mononucleosis, been hospitalized for a week, and kept on strict medical orders for my last semester. Prior to reporting in that year later, I had secured on my nursing Mother’s recommendation, a blood test which was taken and read by another registered nurse. I presented that 4 week old test to the examining doctors, and they in turn advised me to go have updated tests performed by a doctor, and that they would be in touch with me in two weeks to return.
Thanks to my Father’s wisdom and advice, I went ahead and had the tests performed, but also applied to begin graduate school. The worst case, he said, was that you would just have to pull out of school. The next thing I heard was months later when the results of the lottery were announced and I was a number 36, as I recall. I was back in the process again, although I had secured a fair portion of my Masters Degree in the interim.
I found my appetite waning. I had always been tall and slim. I confess that I assisted in the waning appetite over a period of a few weeks. As I again reported in for the physical, I was advised to step aside after I was measured and weighed. I was then told that i was two pounds below the weight restrictions that applied for my height. I returned to my studies, but also remained subject to recall. Once more I was recalled, and again had a decrease in my appetite, clearing the mark by one pound only. Had the re-tested me before I left the hospital, I would have passed the test since they provided a lunch shortly after I had been weighed.
That was the last that I heard. My best friend, who became a Marine, assured me that I had not missed a thing that I needed to go back for. In the meantime, I became a new Father, and never felt compelled to look back.