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Mon Feb 11, 2013, 06:27 PM

I was a "draft dodger"

I have seen that term used many times here at DU as a put down.
Here's my story: I went to high school in Honolulu, graduated in 1968. My dad was a career serviceman, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force, stationed at Hickam AFB with PACAF intelligence. So I had been around the military my whole life. I knew from the time I was about 15 that what was going on in Vietnam was not right. I was listening to Dylan and Baez etc. When I graduated in '68 I was 17 and headed off to college in Oregon. My roommate was 16, a prodigy, a young lanky black kid with a big "Free Huey"(Huey Newton, Black Panther) button on his jacket. I learned a lot about racism from him and his brothers. About how black men were drafted to fight in Vietnam while still facing huge prejudices in their own country. Muhammad Ali also provided an inspiration, refusing to serve and going to jail for his beliefs. Then in late '68 I met David Harris, an antiwar activist. (He later married Joan Baez). He spoke at my college and afterwards I spoke with him privately. I told him I had just turned 18 and was against the war too and that my draft board was in Honolulu. His advice was 'don't register'. And I didn't. There was a huge swell of anti-warism then. People would sing "Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die" by Country Joe and the Fish. People would protest.
I went home to Honolulu for Xmas '68. Mt dad immediately asked me what I had done about registering for the draft. I told him what I felt and my parents were shocked. My dad told me "Your country right or wrong!" They made me visit an Air Force lawyer and a priest, both of whom advised me to hurry up and register. I refused until my mother told me I was killing my father. So I went to register as a Conscientious Objector. The guy at the draft board asked me what religion I had. I said none, I just don't want to go to someone else's country and kill them for reasons I didn't believe in. Of course I was denied. But I had a student deferment at the time. I lost that deferment after being caught with a girl in my dorm room (and that hashish thing) and the school expelled me.
When the first draft lottery came, I was in the basement of the Student Union in Eugene, Oregon, listening to the lottery on the radio. My number was five. I had a series of jobs in Oregon, picking fruit with migrant Mexicans, cutting trees and more. I moved around and occasionally I would get mail, general delivery, in whatever town. I received a few orders to report for my induction physical. I threw them away.
After some years I returned to college, this time in Tucson, Az. I was an honors student, straight A's, and apparently I got a deferment for that. I ended up having a draft physical in Phoenix. I passed and was One-A. I never got called. The war was winding down.
Years later, Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense during the heyday of Vietnam, admitted that the war war a terrible mistake.
So many died, so many scarred forever. I knew many who went, some never came home and the ones who did were forever changed. I have never regretted being against the war.

38 replies, 3547 views

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Arrow 38 replies Author Time Post
Reply I was a "draft dodger" (Original post)
panader0 Feb 2013 OP
actslikeacarrot Feb 2013 #1
Siwsan Feb 2013 #5
JaneyVee Feb 2013 #12
ybbor Feb 2013 #24
mrmpa Feb 2013 #2
Demo_Chris Feb 2013 #3
RedCappedBandit Feb 2013 #14
Ptah Feb 2013 #4
panader0 Feb 2013 #6
Ptah Feb 2013 #9
Doc_Technical Feb 2013 #37
Smarmie Doofus Feb 2013 #7
alcibiades_mystery Feb 2013 #8
libodem Feb 2013 #10
iandhr Feb 2013 #11
timdog44 Feb 2013 #13
panader0 Feb 2013 #16
timdog44 Feb 2013 #17
Archae Feb 2013 #15
panader0 Feb 2013 #18
Bucky Feb 2013 #19
panader0 Feb 2013 #22
pasto76 Feb 2013 #20
DeSwiss Feb 2013 #21
Sancho Feb 2013 #23
panader0 Feb 2013 #25
sulphurdunn Feb 2013 #26
bluestateguy Feb 2013 #27
rustydog Feb 2013 #28
JEB Feb 2013 #29
madrchsod Feb 2013 #30
panader0 Feb 2013 #33
MrSlayer Feb 2013 #31
libdude Feb 2013 #32
joanbarnes Feb 2013 #34
Snarkoleptic Feb 2013 #35
pinboy3niner Feb 2013 #38
retired rooster Feb 2013 #36

Response to panader0 (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 06:33 PM

1. i think most of the "put downs"...

...regarding draft dodger is in reference to those who supported the war but dodged the draft. At least that is what I observed.

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Response to actslikeacarrot (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 06:51 PM

5. Absolutely - I apply the term to chicken hawks, only

I never apply it to people of conscience. But to people who push others in to war when they took every out??? Definitely.

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Response to actslikeacarrot (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 08:10 PM

12. Yup, I don't give a shit who dodges the draft, but I WILL call out those like Mitt Romney who

protested FOR war escalation then ran off to a foreign country to avoid it.

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Response to actslikeacarrot (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 09:02 PM

24. I also, only consider it a put down to chicken-hawks

Never would I consider someone who was making a morally correct choice, as a coward. Those who were pro-war until, and even after they skipped out are exceptional cowards. You are more than good in my eyes!

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Response to panader0 (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 06:36 PM

2. My Father a 15 year Marine Corps veteran & Korean War survivor..............

made sure that his oldest son, would not be drafted. My Dad made sure that he went to College and kept that student deferment. My brother is a very smart man, he kept his grades up (had a scholarship that was dependent on a good GPA), but my Dad was always on the phone with him checking on his grades.

My brother had a number that would have him drafted, but the deferment kept him out. He graduated in 1974, never drafted. About 10 years ago, he learned that he had a heart murmur that had never been diagnosed. My Dad said, "well that would have kept him out of the draft."

Dad's two other sons, were born in 1958 and 1960, by the time they were 18, there was no longer a draft.

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Response to panader0 (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 06:39 PM

3. "Dodging" a draft is kinda like escaping as a slave

 

I see no reason why ANYONE would feel even the slightest guilt

I don't even care that Bush and Romney didn't fight. Who in their right mind would want to? I do, however, dislike people who refused to serve themselves, then when they were older became warmongering NEOCONS.

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Response to Demo_Chris (Reply #3)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 08:19 PM

14. The about-face is why they should feel guilt, no?

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Response to panader0 (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 06:40 PM

4. My lottery number was #26

I enlisted in the Air Force, hoping to avoid the jungle.

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Response to Ptah (Reply #4)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 07:05 PM

6. I have nothing but respect for those who served.

My dad flew 50 missions in WWII as a navigator/bombardier. I remember discussing my anti-war beliefs with him back when.
He wept thinking of those he had killed. The rich people make the wars and the poor fight and die in them.
"What if they gave a war and nobody came?"
I'm a big strong guy, not afraid of much except killing for no reason. I'm 62 now and have never killed anyone and I hope to keep it that way. Life is sacred.

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Response to panader0 (Reply #6)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 07:21 PM

9. I respect your decisions.

And honor your choices.



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Response to Ptah (Reply #4)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 12:00 AM

37. Same story with me, Ptah.

My lottery number was #56 and the word was that they were
drafting people to #122.



P.S. Thank you to whoever it was that gave me a heart!

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Response to panader0 (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 07:16 PM

7. You did the right thing.

It's amazing that I even have to point this out.

That's how furiously the history of that period was rewritten in the next generation.

The Vietnamese were victims of the war and deserve sympathy.

Americans who were drafted and sent to VN and who were killed or damaged deserve sympathy.

People who refused to serve deserve to be honored as do people who worked and sacrificed to END the war.

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Response to panader0 (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 07:20 PM

8. I agree with you...I mostly use draft resister

There are cases, like Bush and Quayle, where draft resister doesn't quite make sense, though.

We should certainly make distinctions.

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Response to panader0 (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 08:05 PM

10. Me either

I'm on your side. I was very against the war. I love what you did.

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Response to panader0 (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 08:06 PM

11. Your situation is different.

You had a moral objection to the war.

We use to describe people like Mitt who support war but avoided serving in a war by running off to France.

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Response to panader0 (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 08:17 PM

13. Person of conscience is a better term.

I grew up in that era and, for whatever reason, volunteered for the draft prior to the number system. It was a most difficult time and lots of misunderstandings, were rampant. Almost every body had a reason for what they did, because of conscience. The people I have a hard time with are the "chicken hawks". Avoidance of the service, yet calling for war. No conscience there. Unconscionable would be a good word. I think the Israelis have it close to correct. Everyone should serve their country, in some way. Graduate from high school and go into service for the country for a set time. Maybe 12 -18 months. Service does not mean military service, but service in many other ways. I think there would be enough who would choose the military to fulfill the need. The rest could be in service to keep the country clean. Could be in service in peace corps type efforts. I would think the ways would be endless.

Not many 17-18 year old men and women know what they want to do at that age, and this would provide a transition time. They would still have to make a choice, and yet still be under the "tutelage" of command, not parents. The maturity of the brain of the 18-20 year old is not complete and thus the transition.

Maybe off point, somewhat. But those times were very difficult. I think a lot of us are here because of that time. Wish I was more able to say it right.

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Response to timdog44 (Reply #13)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 08:34 PM

16. Your idea of "peace corps type efforts" is something I think might be good,

Young people could do a service to their country here at home, in many different ways, construction, teaching, conservation, and many more, learning much along the way. And have a job at the same time.

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Response to panader0 (Reply #16)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 08:39 PM

17. You catch my point.

It would also free up a generation of employment to those now unemployed, and then college for those who want or trade school or a start in a business venture.

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Response to panader0 (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 08:23 PM

15. I knew a guy who was pro-war and anti-war.

He was drafted and sent to Korea in 1952, served in artillery.
Hated Harry S. Truman for sending him there, considered that whole country a waste. (Yes, he was a vicious racist too.)
That war was wrong to him.

BUT...

Vietnam, Gulf War and Iraq Invasion were all good wars to him!
As long as it was someone ELSE, (especially poor blacks,) who were getting shot at, that was jusat fine with him.

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Response to Archae (Reply #15)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 08:41 PM

18. When someone says "good war" it seems to be an oxymoron

I think WWII may have been a necessary war. I wonder almost daily about the horrors occuring in some nations and whether we, as a nation, a a moral obligation to get involved.

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Response to panader0 (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 08:41 PM

19. Those who dared to run away served their land another way.

Opposing that war took guts. Opposing the draft directly took guts. It went into the pool of resistance that ultimately ended the draft and then ended the war. I sincerely thank you. The country is a better place for your conscientiousness

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Response to Bucky (Reply #19)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 08:55 PM

22. I called my opposition "benign neglect"

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Response to panader0 (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 08:42 PM

20. there is nothing wrong or ignoble about avoiding going to war dude

as long as you are not advocating others going. vis a vie Romney.

I mean the iraq war was bad enough, head fuck wise. I can only speculate on what vietnam was like and then on top of that, being drafted.

there is nothing for you to defend man. be cool

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Response to panader0 (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 08:46 PM

21. K&R

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Response to panader0 (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 09:02 PM

23. This brings back so many memories for me...

I also registered in 68. My father was a major in the army, and they paid for his college and med school. I burned my draft card at a protest. My father and I didn't talk for a couple years. He wouldn't help me with college so I was worried about my deferment, but my number was not drafted. After a year of construction work and driving a truck, mom convinced my dad to pay my tuition. I was a good student and eventually went to graduate school. For a while, I lived with my grandmother, aunt, and just drifted around. I had decided to leave the US to avoid Vietnam. It was a difficult and scary time. That war, and the ones that have followed were all unnecessary - just a business decision for the ones who don't have to get killed!

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Response to Sancho (Reply #23)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 09:09 PM

25. Burning draft cards! and yeah, the women burned their bras too!

Peace brother.

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Response to panader0 (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 09:11 PM

26. That was a long time ago.

You're not a chickenhawk. That's a difference wider than the Grand Canyon. I served in Vietnam. In retrospect I would probably have been better off going to Canada or Sweden. After the first day in Nam I wished I had and never stopped wishing it for a year. I was glad that the majority of my high school friends got out of it. One of them was a conscientious objector. However, I never would have dodged the draft and supported the war, and neither would any of them, playing both ends against the middle like those warmongering chickenhawk sons of bitches. You didn't either. The war cost me. It cost you. It didn't cost the chickenhawks. That's the difference.

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Response to panader0 (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 09:14 PM

27. The government never got around to prosecuting most of the draft dodgers

They only prosecuted a few as an "example".

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Response to panader0 (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 09:19 PM

28. I had a low draft number, not that low!

My older brother did his 'Nam stint in the '60's and was one of the lucky ones who came back. I turned 18 in '72, saw my low draft number and knew I should enlist before getting the "greetings" letter.

My parents didn't know I had made that decision, but they did have a talk with me about the military and draft. I remember my mother being adamant that if I was against the war, I had to make a stand on principle and have the guts to go to jail for my belief, but if I ran to Canada, she could not respect me for running away instead standing up for what I believed in.

I lucked out I guess. I enlisted, took the 5 hr greyhound bus trip to Spokane AFEES center, took my physical and failed the hearing test. I couldn't be an MP...Of course in '72 the war was really winding down but I did do what I thought was right.

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Response to panader0 (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 09:25 PM

29. I was lucky in the lottery

and got a safe number. Had planned to just go underground and make my way to Canada.
Several friends confronted the draft to get CO status. I never had gone to church so it was a lot harder. Some of my friends that went in came back broken.

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Response to panader0 (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 09:26 PM

30. i refused to go...

i went to the induction center and refused to go. they sent me to the shrink and told them i was`t going. for some odd reason he thought i was crazy and i got a 4-f.

now we can buy clothes made in Vietnam at walmart. our pacific fleet now protects our interests in Vietnam`s strategic position in south asia and provides protection for the shipping lanes around the country.

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Response to madrchsod (Reply #30)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 09:39 PM

33. At my physical I yelled at the Sgt. who was running the show.

When they drew blood, the guy behind me in line got faint from the needle. The Sgt called him a pussy. I said "Fuck you, you can't talk to us that way, we're not in the army yet."

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Response to panader0 (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 09:30 PM

31. It only matters if you're a chickenhawk.

 

I would have dodged the draft too. I value my life far too much to be risking it for some idiotic misadventure or misplaced sense of "patriotism". I would fight to defend my country if it were invaded but I would never go fight for some corporations to hoard even more wealth.

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Response to panader0 (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 09:32 PM

32. Draft Dodger?

Your story sounds so similar to mine and so many others I have spoken with over the years.
Before graduating H.S. in 1970, I had been given the number of # 176, and had been reclassed 1-A upon graduation. I decided that summer to attend theological school in WV. I sought a deferment and was rejected and my appeal was rejected. I headed for WV and received my notice to report to the AFEES for my induction physical. A test I passed! An Uncle,
an Air Force vet encouraged me to go to Canada.
My brother, an enlistee in the Army in 1965, volunteered for combat in Vietnam, also counseled me to head to Canada if I received my notice to report. Fortunately I received a reclassification about a month after my exam, to 1-H, not subject for induction at that time.
A draft dodger? That is OK with me. I honor those who serve the nation as their conscience guides them and I honor those who were called and did what duty demanded of them.
I will say that my brother, returned from the Army as a person I barely knew. He disappeared
over 35 years ago.
Thanks for your posting which gave me the opportunity to reflect on those times many years ago.

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Response to panader0 (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 09:51 PM

34. Me neither. Proud of what you did, it also took guts.

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Response to panader0 (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 09:53 PM

35. Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried" is a very well written book.

I was too young for the Vietnam era draft but this book (even though it's fiction) helped me to understand the horrors and internal conflict of the draft and war.
Reading it gave me increased level of understanding and a whole lot more respect for those who endured the awful reality of this unnecessary war.
The part about near-flight to Canada gives one a sense of the gut wrenching internal conflict and societal pressures.

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Response to Snarkoleptic (Reply #35)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 12:30 AM

38. That was a masterful work

Probably the best novel about the VN War, imo. O'Brien likes to do experimental fiction, and his unique organization of the novel was effective--but only because he was writing from intimate experience and the story he told was realistic and compelling.

Later, he wrote a magazine piece about the time, some time after that literary success, when he was sitting in a hotel room contemplating suicide. It was a close thing, and luckily he didn't do it. It would be a shame to lose Tim, and his talent and his voice.

I speak at the local JC every year to a class on the history of the VN War. The Things They Carried is required reading for the course.

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Response to panader0 (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 10:14 PM

36. Your story sent my mind back to that time.

There were hundreds of good ideas to avoid the draft. I personally knew guys who would dress up in drag (ala Cpl Klinger from MASH) for the physical but deny he was gay (which he wasn't) When asked he would say with a lisp "heaven's NO'', start crying and shouting out "why do people always think that about me?" Worked twice for him. Other guys would take the easier way and just wear women's underwear for the physical. Arlo Guthrie wrote a song about getting himself arrested for littering and was successfully avoiding the draft because of his criminal record. It was rumored that a girl who worked in the records section of Juvenile Court would, for a $200 fee, create a criminal record that would keep you out of the draft.

But the best idea (I thought) would be to change your address every few months and dutifully file a change of address with the Post Office who could never keep up with all those address changes.

Me? I had a low draft number so I joined the Air Force with assured training as an oral hygienist. There were only two oral hygienist stationed in RVN so I spent the entire war stateside.

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