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OneWriter
06-24-2010, 06:10 AM
My MC's father died in the Vietnam War. I wanted him to be called in the very last draft, so I researched the subject but I am still confused on a few points. From wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draft_lottery_%281969%29

I read that the last call was on Dec 7th 1972.
Questions:

(1) Is it correct to assume that the draftees received an official letter summoning them? So, if the last call was on Dec 7th 1972, is that when those letters were mailed out? Or is that the date when the soldiers left the Country?

(2) From the above wiki page, that last call drafted men born in the years 1951-1956. So, there's no way that an older man would have been drafted on that same call? What if he were sick or able to postpone when called earlier? I wanted my MC's dad to be 28 or 30 when he got the call, is that possible or should I re-think my plot?

Thanks!!

Kalyke
06-24-2010, 06:28 AM
Hi. Why would you need your MC's father to be drafted? Many people went to Vietnam who were not drafted. My own father (I'm older) was in WW2, Korea, And Viet Nam. He was Career Army, and later Air force. Just make the kid's dad a Warrent Officer or something of that nature. Viet Nam really went on from the end of WW2 till the American Withdrawal. Before that, the French occupied Viet Nam. Some of the same soldiers were there at the very beginning with Kennedy taking over from the French, through Johnson, and Nixon. So, it is possible to have a man who is 30 dying. Just let him die, in any of the horrific Sysyphus nightmares going on down there. Even getting fragged by a crazed soldier is a pretty novel way to kick the bucket.

If you need the father to "be there" and then go to Vietnam, just have him be a an NCO in a base close to where your MC is, and then he'll find out his company got called up. He can also be CIA or a trainer, or even a doctor.

I've got one Viet nam era story where the MC's father is an Engineer who was captured and held for several years as a POW. I lived through and recall the time well, so if you have any questions or want a critique, give a PM.

Kalyke
06-24-2010, 06:41 AM
Also, never take your information from Wikipedia. The last call was in 1972 and effected men born in 1953, but the draft had been abolished in 73 so those men were not called.
The actual last draft was the draft before, in '71. Your man could volunteer, but he might be unappealing unless he had specific qualifications. Could he be a lawyer, an engineer, a doctor or some skill needed by the US?

I do not think you can fudge with numbers here. This was a highly touchy and very political thing. Only men who were born in 1953 would have been drafted. As it was, only men born in 52 were drafted. They were 19 years old.

OneWriter
06-24-2010, 07:09 AM
Hi, thanks so much for your tips! I like the idea of having him have some specific qualifications. However, he is reluctant to go. Were these people "forced" to go to Vietnam? Or were they volunteers? Can you give me more details on how a CIA would be called? This is the scene I am working on, it's a flashback and it is pivotal in understanding my MC's story: his father just got the "letter" that he has to go, and he is half drunk because he feels that he is going to die (that's why I can't really make him volunteer to go). Because he thinks he won't come back, he reveals some dark family secret to my MC who is just eight at the time. So, what could he be to make this work? Ideally, I would like him to leave for Vietnam in 1973. Thanks SO much!!!!

Aztecsince79
06-24-2010, 07:17 AM
OW, I did some research for my own WIP on the draft in the Vietnam War era, stuff that I eventually cut out, but it was very confusing. There's no one right answer on anything. You might want to go down to your local VFW hall, or similar vets organizations, and see if anyone there can tell you how things really worked.

mgoblue101415
06-24-2010, 07:48 AM
At the end of 1969 the US went back to the lottery draft. 1969 would have been the last year of an open draft, meaning, basically, that any guy at least 18yrs old could be drafted.

The first lottery draft in Dec of 69 covered men born from 1940something (I don't remember off hand but that's easy to find online) to 1950. Then in 70 it was men born in 51. 71 was 52. 72 was 53. What they did was literally like a lottery. Days of the year were on balls, they picked them out of a big old container, and they kept doing that until every day had been picked. Depending on what your birthday was that determined the chances of you actually getting drafted. For instance... My father was pretty much safe as his number was 300.

So, depending on your MC's father age... If he was born before 1952 then you could have him drafted in the last year of the "random" draft in 69. If you can have being born in 1952 then you would have to check the lottery results in 71, which would have had him drafted in 72, and make sure that his actual birthday would have been one that would have resulted in him being drafted.

OneWriter
06-24-2010, 08:09 PM
Thanks everybody, I was confused because I thought being "drafted" was the same as being "deployed". In reality, I can have Dad be in the military, hence he would be deployed any time, come back home, and then go back at different intervals of time. Thanks again for all the help.

Linda Adams
06-25-2010, 02:21 AM
I don't know if this is helpful, but I had a friend who volunteered because he was out of work. He'd planned on being a forest ranger (college degree), but he couldn't find work so he volunteered.

Army turned him down because his hearing and eyesight were bad. He appealed and got in (ROTC). Ended up going to Ranger School (best in class), and then jump school.

mgoblue101415
06-25-2010, 02:56 AM
Hi, thanks so much for your tips! I like the idea of having him have some specific qualifications. However, he is reluctant to go. Were these people "forced" to go to Vietnam? Or were they volunteers? Can you give me more details on how a CIA would be called? This is the scene I am working on, it's a flashback and it is pivotal in understanding my MC's story: his father just got the "letter" that he has to go, and he is half drunk because he feels that he is going to die (that's why I can't really make him volunteer to go). Because he thinks he won't come back, he reveals some dark family secret to my MC who is just eight at the time. So, what could he be to make this work? Ideally, I would like him to leave for Vietnam in 1973. Thanks SO much!!!!


73 is a tough one. I want to say that the last combat troops actually shipped out of Vietnam in late 72 or early 73. So even if your MC's father volunteered there's no way he would have been sent over to Vietnam in 73. Unless he was an advisor of some sort. Otherwise you're out of luck on him being shipped to Vietnam in 73. 72 is pretty iffy, as well.

If you really want it to work then you're going to have to change the years.