PDA

View Full Version : Military Draft -- Vietnam War



reigningcatsndogs
07-14-2008, 07:19 AM
a couple of questions

- at what age was a person drafted for service in Vietnam?
- under what circumstances were deferments given?
- when was a person considered a draft dodger? (Did they have to show up for their medical and then leave, or if they just got their letter and didn't respond at all, or both? I have some conflicting information about this that I need cleared up)
- what happened to a draft dodger when he was located? Was he automatically sent for training and service or was he incarcerated? If incarcerated, for how long and where?

Thanks for the help.

Mumut
07-14-2008, 08:48 AM
I can only answer a couple of those questions as it applied to Australia (and this is ust going on memory). If you turned 20 after January 1st, 1964 your name went into the lottery. Chosen ones were conscripted. There was incarceration for those who dodged.

One of the deferments was for people working with the Australian Governmet in Papua New Guinea as Patrol Officers (I'm not sure if it was restricted to POs or everyone working over there). Medical reasons were also considered.

I was lucky - I was too old!

Lillyth
07-14-2008, 10:14 AM
I don't know if I can help answer the questions per se, but I do have a few great snippets of Viet Nam draft dodging my dad told me.

The stories do me no good, but they might do you some good, so if you'd like to use them, go ahead.

1) My dad came from a family with money. When he got drafted, his family did what all rich folks did: paid a psychiatrist to say he was too crazy to serve. They paid $1,000.00 for this. (Yes, back then).

2) My dad was friends with a man who shot himself in the foot to avoid serving. Literally. Took a gun and shot his foot off.

3) Another friend of my dad's, in an attempt to avoid the draft, knowing there is a place you can shoot yourself in the abdomen, that, if done correctly, misses all internal organs. He missed. His parents, unfortunately, were gone HOURS longer than they were supposed to be, and by the time they got home & found him, gangrene had set it. The man needed to wear a colostomy bag for the rest of his life.

My dad died last year, so I can't ask him any questions you may have, and I don't really recall anything more than that, but you have any questions, you can always PM me. The answer will most likely be "I'm sorry, I don't know", but if I would always be happy to try, if you need...

Good luck!

FinbarReilly
07-14-2008, 11:44 AM
Assuming US Draft:


a couple of questions

- at what age was a person drafted for service in Vietnam?
As young as 18 and as old as 30 (I think; today that age is 35). It was possible for 17 year olds to serve (with parental permission), and there is a record of a 12yr old serving (he got in due to his size, but was eventually found out). Also, older people did serve, but they couldn't be drafted.

Also note that you could be ordered to serve via court order, but that was found to be an abuse of power at best.


- under what circumstances were deferments given?
The most common were medical with psychiatric just behind. There were a wide range of psychiatric deferments available, including sexual deviancy (wearing dresses and homosexuality usually). There were also educational deferments, and you could be deferred for being the only male child (or if all of your brothers were serving). And, of course, you serve with the local National Guard or Reserve, but there was the off-chance you would be called in.


- when was a person considered a draft dodger? (Did they have to show up for their medical and then leave, or if they just got their letter and didn't respond at all, or both? I have some conflicting information about this that I need cleared up)
There are so many levels to this one. If you didn't respond at all, burned your card, or simply moved elsewhere it was considered dodging. In all cases it was considered a felony (even though the first one could be mitigated by serving). Feigning a medical or psychiatric deferment was also a crime, as was doing something to get a deferment (but were rarely prosecuted as the person screwed themselves up sufficiently that it was deemed sufficient penalty).

If the paperwork had already started and you ran, it was considered desertion, and you could either serve or go to Fort Leavenworth.


- what happened to a draft dodger when he was located? Was he automatically sent for training and service or was he incarcerated? If incarcerated, for how long and where?
Note what I said above; if incarceration was ordered, it was usually at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and usually for 1-10 years depending on behavior and how far you had ran, and additional charges could be brought depending on what you had done to escape the draft.


Thanks for the help.
I hope that helps...

FR

jclarkdawe
07-14-2008, 05:06 PM
You might want to look at http://www.landscaper.net/draft.htm

There are definite limits to how much I remember from back then.


a couple of questions

- at what age was a person drafted for service in Vietnam? Shortly after your 18th birthday, you reported to your local draft board and received your draft card. You were classified 1-H. Presuming you became 1-A and told to serve, you would go shortly after your nineteenth birthday.

- under what circumstances were deferments given? Wide variety. Beyond what have been stated, the most common was a student deferment. Becoming a teacher, especially in urban areas, often worked. Getting married and having children was another deferment.

- when was a person considered a draft dodger? (Did they have to show up for their medical and then leave, or if they just got their letter and didn't respond at all, or both? I have some conflicting information about this that I need cleared up) At anytime after you turned 18 if you didn't follow the requirements of the draft act. Failing to report, failing to carry your card, telling your draft board what you thought of them.

- what happened to a draft dodger when he was located? Was he automatically sent for training and service or was he incarcerated? If incarcerated, for how long and where? It depended. If you admitted you were sorry quickly, and looked like a good target, they'd just throw you into basic. Max would be Ft. Leavenworth. Possibilities would be anything in between.

Thanks for the help.

For the 1970 draft (1951 birth date?), the draft was changed with the addition of the lottery. This made some major changes.

You might want to read THE DRIFTERS by James Michener. Although it suffers some major defects, it's pretty accurate for people with money. It's set in 1968. I'd also read Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman. Probably the most articulate commentators for the white counter-culture.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

reigningcatsndogs
07-14-2008, 05:49 PM
Thanks very much!

Roger J Carlson
07-14-2008, 06:09 PM
Here is a useful link (http://www.sss.gov/wmbkgr.htm).

You probably know that nearly every male in the US must still register for the draft. But there was a period when even registration was suspended: 1973 - 1980. Therefore, no one born in and between 1956 and 1961 (and many born in 1955 and 1962), even had to register.

reigningcatsndogs
07-14-2008, 07:12 PM
I didn't know that... but I'm Canadian. ;)

Thanks for the link!!

Roger J Carlson
07-14-2008, 07:16 PM
I didn't know that... but I'm Canadian. My brother nearly was, too -- until he got a college deferment. ;)

Kitty Pryde
07-14-2008, 10:11 PM
Rent the movie Big Wednesday. A major subplot is a bunch of buddies trying to avoid the draft in various creative ways. I know people who avoided the draft by lying and claiming to be homosexual. I know one person who joined the Navy to avoid the Army draft! A good strategy as he never discharged a firearm and only passed through a combat zone once, while he was asleep.

Mike Martyn
07-14-2008, 10:27 PM
Here is a useful link (http://www.sss.gov/wmbkgr.htm).

You probably know that nearly every male in the US must still register for the draft. But there was a period when even registration was suspended: 1973 - 1980. Therefore, no one born in and between 1956 and 1961 (and many born in 1955 and 1962), even had to register.

Also any male with US citizenship whe was born outside the US or lives abroad. Although we live in Canada, my wife's a US citizen which means our kids are as well.

One of my sons was thinking of attending a US university and applying for federal student loans. One of the conditions was that he register for the draft which you can do on line.

Oberon
07-14-2008, 10:54 PM
I don't know if this will help. My personal experience with the draft goes back to the Korean war. The day it started, I said, no, not me, I won't go. I was at Antioch College, where grades were pretty flexible, and we did all we could to keep grade point averages up, as that could win exemption (at that time). When I transferred to Wisconsin ROTC was a required course. I consulted with a pastor, with other conscientious objectors, got letters from my parents and others who knew me. I was called in to the Dean's office to be grilled by army and navy officers, with the usual questions ("What would you do if someone attacked your wife?). I wasn't a Quaker, which would have been acceptable in their minds, and they didn't believe my nondemoninational convictions were legitimate. Only religion could be used as justification for exemption. The conclusion was that only a letter from my draft board would excuse me. I come from a very small town, so I was known to all the draft board members. The secretary called me in and said, since I had married and we had just had a child, I could be exempted. That still didn't settle the ROTC problem. I got them to write a letter saying that in the event of a national emergency I would be reclassified as a C.O. I went to one ROTC class. I got an F in the course, my proudest grade. My brother, a WWII hero with two silver stars and the loss of an eye, tried to register as a C.O. when he returned. Of course, he couldn't, he was no longer subject to the draft. I remember vividly my roommate pounding the bed and saying Shit! Shit! Shit! over and over when he got his "Greetings" from the draft board. There were C.O.s even during WWII, some served as medics, others were put in prison and used as guinea pigs in various kinds of research (starvation, for one).

Fern
07-15-2008, 01:21 AM
Isn't there also something about an only son not being drafted?

Gary
07-15-2008, 01:47 AM
There was no set age that you would be drafted. It depended on the needs of the military at the time and your status. If you were 1A, you could count on going soon. The odds increased a bunch when the Vietnam War began.

We fully expected to be drafted, and nearly every male in my senior class served in one way or another. I entered Air Force Basic Military Training five days after I graduated in 1959. Others partied for a few weeks and then enlisted, or they volunteered to be drafted for two years. Those volunteers meant someone who didn't want to go was off the hook for a while. Those who went on to college joined ROTC, and did their time after graduation.

We had several farmers in my class and a few of those guys joined the Guard or Reserve because they wanted to serve, but didn't want to lose their farm by being away for 2-4 years.

A few weeks after I turned 18, I was notified by my draft board to register, or be drafted immediately. At the time, I had been in the service about six months. I laughed at the letter, and ignored it. A month later, they sent another letter telling me to report for induction into the Army within five days. I told my First Sergeant, and after he stopped laughing, he called the draft board and explained that I was already serving.

There was only one draft dodger that I knew of in my class. His parents kept him in college with a student deferment for 12 years. He had multiple degrees, but spent most of his life selling insurance. Go figure. A couple of my classmates rolled the dice and were never drafted, but most served.

Conscientious objectors were expected to wear a uniform and work in non-killing jobs. There were two of them in my basic training flight, and they were not required to do anything that involved weapons. When we went to the firing range, they went on KP. I think they both became medics. There was no problem with their situation, as it was entirely normal for the time.

blacbird
07-15-2008, 02:00 AM
Isn't there also something about an only son not being drafted?

No. I, in fact, was an only child; didn't matter. The "sole surviving son" provision had to do with parents who had other sons die in combat; a final surviving son could be exempted from the draft. I believe it was instituted in WWII.

Some details regarding the draft, from my personal experience: I was drafted in the summer of 1968 (five days before the assassination of Robert Kennedy, in fact, so the memory is pretty specific and vivid). The Vietnam draft lottery was instituted on 1 Desember 1969, so it didn't affect me, as I was already in Vietnam. This was actually after the peak volume of the draft, which was in 1968.

Prior to the lottery (which was based annually on a person's birthdate), everything was up to your local Draft Board. Every county had one. They were instructed to draft the oldest eligible individuals first, up to the age of 26; but these, and other guidelines were commonly ignored, and there was little oversight from the national Selective Service System of how these boards operated. Lyndon Johnson's Selective Service head was a General Hershey, and he was widely and justifiabl despised, for not just permitting but actively encouraging the squelching of political dissent by drafting those who were known to have protested, and the like.

At the time of the highest draft calls, most men were inducted into the Army, but a minority were inducted into the Marine Corps. An inductee's term of active-duty service was two years. You got pressured toward enlisting for a three-year (or longer) commitment via promises to get certain kinds of specific training; those promises often proved bogus. Once they had you in uniform, they could pretty much do with you what they wanted.

Another matter of gallows humor was the pre-induction physical exam. Again, at the time of the highest draft calls, this was largely a joke. If you had something obviously wrong with you, like being an amputee or blind, you would be dismissed. Beyond that, if you were ambulatory, you generally passed. When I took mine, the technician in charge of checking my heart listened to it for about one second, and wrote down '72' as my resting heart rate. At the time, I was a competitive distance runner, highly fit, and knew that my resting heart rate was something around 50. After being thus passed on the heart test, a few of us compared notes while we were waiting around to pee in a cup or something, and everybody had a resting heart rate of 72.

Hope this helps.

caw

reigningcatsndogs
07-15-2008, 02:45 AM
Thanks so much for the info... the piece takes place in spring/summer 68, so this is really very helpful. Thanks.

Jersey Chick
07-15-2008, 02:54 AM
My dad was drafted - and he wasn't a citizen. He's a resident alien.

StephanieFox
07-15-2008, 04:44 AM
I got a draft notice when I was 18, but I didn't show up. I wanted to, but my dad asked me not to do so. I know I would have failed the physical 'cause I'm female and I think they would have noticed.

I never did figure out why I got the notice. I shouldn't have, even if I were male because my draft lottery number was 250 and they weren't drafting people with numbers above the (if I remember right) 74.

blacbird
07-15-2008, 11:34 PM
My dad was drafted - and he wasn't a citizen. He's a resident alien.

A good point, and correct. I served in Vietnam with a guy from Jamaica, who wanted to stay in the U.S., and had to accept induction in order to maintain his legal resident status. He could have chosen to move back to Jamaica, and thereby avoided the draft.

caw

Jersey Chick
07-15-2008, 11:38 PM
IIRC, my dad couldn't be sent to a combat zone - but he volunteered to go. As per family gossip (he doesn't talk about it), he was stationed in Alaska and said that you didn't take a boy out of Texas (he lived in El Paso) and send him to Alaska. Oh, and he wanted to see action because he was bored. He was 21 or 22 when he was discharged, but I don't know how long he was in the service before the boredom set in...

And AFAIK, he did two tours.

blacbird
07-15-2008, 11:54 PM
I don't know how long he was in the service before the boredom set in...

About two minutes, I'd guess.

caw

FinbarReilly
07-16-2008, 12:27 AM
Minor Clarification on the "only son" thing:

1) Because of an incident involving four brothers dying nearly simultaneously in WWII, the DOD set forth that, if all but one of the sons in a given family died while serving, the remaining son was exempt from service.

2) If it could be shown that drafting the son's service would cause economic hardship for the family, and that it would not be mitigated by service salary, then the son could be exempted. Obviously not a common exemption, but it did come into play when the son was the sole breadwinner of a large family.


Otherwise, a sole son could be drafted...

FR

Jersey Chick
07-16-2008, 12:47 AM
About two minutes, I'd guess.

caw

I don't think it was even that long... ;)