The 1970 lottery was in the summer after I finished high school. With number 28 I was sure to be drafted even if the war ended, so I enlisted rather than go to college. I didn’t really have any future plans figured out and the reserves and national guard in Illinois were fully booked.
I went into the Army in January 1971, aged 19 years and 2 months. Basic at Fort Lewis, Washington, advanced training at Fort Gordon, Georgia (Military Police), permanent station Fort Ritchie, Maryland. If you never heard of Fort Ritchie, it’s because it was a very small fort (closed down in the early 90’s). I guarded a top secret site that has been shown on the Discovery Channel and written about in Time magazine and can be seen in Google Earth, and is still being used. The place is called Site R and would be used as the underground Pentagon in a nuclear war. It sounds exciting, but was boring as hell. The MPs were supposed to set an example for the rest of the Army, so we had daily uniform inspections and had to keep our barracks nearly spotless. The little petty crap was aggravating to the point that 2 guys volunteered for Vietnam to get away from it.
I was the youngest guy in the company until just before I got out, because most of the guys had been in college before they were drafted. Talking to and becoming friends with them made me decide to go to college when I got out. I was 20 years and 10 months old when I got out early for school. Under 21 and my military obligation was over. The GI bill paid the school and got me the loan when I bought my house. I hated the Army, but would do it again, because some good came from the experience. I grew up in ways that some of my high school friends never will.