Dodge or Do the “Draft”

23 Sep
Soldier waiting for formation 1967

President Nixon ended the compulsory military draft in 1973 as the war in Vietnam was ending. Prior to that the draft was in place since 1948 and even during peacetime. Young men went into the military unless they had some political pull or a deferment of some kind. Even Elvis Presley was drafted and served his time as a GI. Mohammed Ali refused to serve and was stripped of his boxing title for it. The draft was something that hung over the head of every able bodied male. When body bags began arriving at Dover Air Force base an increase in the volume of anti-war protests began.

Reactions to the draft varied from complete acceptance to fleeing the country to avoid it. Bruce Springsteen said that he dodged the draft by playing up the extent of injuries from a motorcycle accident as well as acting like he was high on LSD. Arlo Guthrie (Woodie Guthrie’s son) wrote his most famous song about how he got out of the draft because of a littering citation called “Alice’s Restaurant.  

One guy that I went to high school with moved to Canada to avoid the draft. Sometimes people would enlist in the Army Reserves as a member of their state’s National Guard. The problem with that is having your reserve unit activated and shipped overseas anywhere from Korea and Germany to Thailand or Vietnam. The majority of young men did their duty, reported for induction and served their time.

Just because you were drafted at the beginning of the escalation of the war in 1966, like I was, didn’t mean that you were going to Nam. Take my case for example, I was drafted into the army in August 1966 which began the buildup for LBJ’s war of attrition. After basic training at Ft. Knox, Kentucky I ended up at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma for the remainder of my two-year hitch. The units that I served in had guys coming from and going to Vietnam but “there but for fortune go I.”

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