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Question about Conscription during Vietnam war

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  • Question about Conscription during Vietnam war

    I've done some research online, but guess I haven't been clicking the right links: I'm still confused about how conscription worked during the Vietnam war.

    I know that the lottery started in 1969, and that anyone born from 1944 through 1950 with a number of 195 or below qualified for induction after the lottery was held. But I can't seem to find anything online about how conscription was handled in 1968 and before. How did Selective Service decide before the lottery who had to go and who didn't?

    I'd also like more information about what physical problems made a potential recruit into a 4F. Here, I've seen different accounts online. One fellow with a metal plate in his head was deemed eligible to serve. Another with asthma was given a 4F. I'm confused by the criteria that were used.

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    The Draft system was changed a bit over the years. In the 60's the Army could draft someone between the age of 18 and 25. The Army used such a high age ceiling so they could draft Doctors and other specialists after they were trained! You could get a civilian doctor to examine you if you were rated I-A and maybe get that reduced. You could get drafted with certain disabilities and still serve in a support role. Then we had McNamara's Project 100,000 that allowed the mentally deficient in!

    I turned 18 in 1971, but I was already in college. That earned me a I-H classification (basically fit but on Hold!). My lottery number was something like 281, so was not going near the top! I am deaf in one ear and if I had ever been invited to a physical, I was probably going to test as mostly deaf in the good ear as well! To show I had a sense of humor I waited until 1976 and enlisted as a half deaf volunteer! I even asked for Mortars to earn the Combat Arms bonus! The guy doing the hearing test told me "Boy did you know you are almost stone deaf in one ear?" I confessed! The hearing test kept me out of Armor, my passion.

    Pruitt
    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

    Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

    by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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    • #3
      Welcome to the site Rick Researcher. I hope you enjoy your time here. It is a great site.
      "War is hell, but actual combat is a motherf#cker"
      - Col. David Hackworth

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      • #4
        Before the lottery, each draft board had a monthly allocation to fill. My understanding was that their number was based on the number of draft age (not draft eligible) men in their catchment. If the number of ineligible (student deferment, felon, medically unqualified) was high and if you were 1-A, chances are your name came up. I received my notice for a physical in November 1967, about one week after I decided I was sick of college. Even my University thought I was still in school. It was probably a mistake to throw away those forms from the Board asking what I was doing in the summer! Anyway, my draft board was rather notorious for grabbing everyone they could, and off I went in April 1968.

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        • #5
          What specifically are you looking into this for Rick?

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          • #6
            A lot depended on the make up of the local Draft Board. I have not heard of any with minority members! Down South and around Indian Reservations, guess who was sent? I remember running into a fellow classmate in 1972. He asked me if I had heard he had been drafted and I said NO! He went in and did a year, then he said they offered him an early out! If he had not got a job at the Lake Charles K-Mart I would have never heard his story. I graduated with almost 600 people and the only way to keep up with them was if they went to college with me.

            Pruitt
            Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

            Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

            by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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            • #7
              I have not heard of any with minority members! Down South and around Indian Reservations, guess who was sen
              That was my impression as well. I'm sure there were draft boards with minority members on them, particularly in New Mexico, and certainly a large number of Rednecks were both drafted and served (on a hunch, drafted by largely White draft boards). But, my first command was a BCT company at Fort Bliss in 1967, and we had about seven Sioux from the same reservation up in eastern Montana in one cycle. One of the draftees was a college graduate. After my class on what we were fighting for (keep America great, land of opportunity, etc.), he asked me if I really believed what I had said. When I answered that I did, he asked me to explain how seven guys off the Res could be drafted with a single White from the nearby town, when the country White population was more than three times that on the Res. (note: not sure of the literal numbers these days, but it was about 7 to 1) I was reminded of that when they had that little AIM uprising back in the early 70s.
              dit: Lirelou

              Phong trần mài một lưỡi gươm, Những loài giá áo túi cơm sá ǵ!

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              • #8
                All I can relate is my experience.

                I arrived in the States at the age of 18 1/2 in August 1965. In accordance with the law, I registered for the draft.

                By November 1965, I'd had a pre-induction physical and was classified 1A. I received a draft notice in December 1965 and in January 1966 was at Ft. Leonard Wood wondering what happened. August 1966 I was in Vietnam.

                I was classified as 1A because I was fit, and did not request any kind of deferment. There were a number of deferments that would allow an otherwise draftable individual to "defer" conscription. Student deferment to attend college, sole surviving son (I think George Hamilton had that one).

                Here's a pretty good analysis of the Selective Service System at that time
                http://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/...ornialawreview
                Last edited by nbrooks503; 03 Sep 12, 13:12.
                Vietnam - US Army, Aug 66-Feb 68
                Vietnam - USG Civilian, Feb 68-Aug 71
                Special Agent/Criminal Investigator - US Customs Jan 72-Jan 2001
                Wannabe Concert and Sports Photographer

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                • #9
                  Nigel,

                  There was also a deferment if you were the sole support of your family. George was probably his mother's sole source of income!

                  Pruitt
                  Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                  Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                  by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    There was a local draft board in each county. They were told the number of draftees they had to come up with. Before the lottery a lot of favortism occured. If someone was important or the boss of someone on the draft board it was unlikely their son was drafted (in some places). The children of 'white trash' and other undersirables were looked upon as good cannon fodder.
                    "If you are right, then you are right even if everyone says you are wrong. If you are wrong then you are wrong even if everyone says you are right." William Penn.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by nbrooks503 View Post
                      I arrived in the States at the age of 18 1/2 in August 1965. In accordance with the law, I registered for the draft.

                      By November 1965, I'd had a pre-induction physical and was classified 1A. I received a draft notice in December 1965 and in January 1966 was at Ft. Leonard Wood wondering what happened. August 1966 I was in Vietnam.
                      Originally posted by Trailboss49 View Post
                      The children of 'white trash' and other undersirables were looked upon as good cannon fodder.
                      Thanks for the explanation
                      Vietnam - US Army, Aug 66-Feb 68
                      Vietnam - USG Civilian, Feb 68-Aug 71
                      Special Agent/Criminal Investigator - US Customs Jan 72-Jan 2001
                      Wannabe Concert and Sports Photographer

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                      • #12
                        I was drafted in 1966 from S. CA within weeks of dropping out of college (without my dads knowledge). My father was politically connected in Orange County and very “old school”, to this day I believe he had something to do with my being drafted so quickly after dropping out.

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                        • #13
                          I have met a few black vets that claimed that they were targeted by the local draft board. Labeled as trouble makers and drafted they were. Always thought that they were just paranoid... maybe not.
                          My worst jump story:
                          My 13th jump was on the 13th day of the month, aircraft number 013.
                          As recorded on my DA Form 1307 Individual Jump Log.
                          No lie.

                          ~
                          "Everything looks all right. Have a good jump, eh."
                          -2 Commando Jumpmaster

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                          • #14
                            Thanks very much for the responses, everyone ... and nbrooks503, I'm especially grateful for the link to the .pdf about the Selective Service. I hadn't known how important each local draft board was.

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                            • #15
                              Learn something every day.I was under the impression that Native Americans couldnot be forcibly drafted.Served with afew of them in the M.C..Good men.
                              Last edited by hankwill; 03 Sep 12, 22:17.
                              The history addict asked me,"Where did you fought?"
                              Me...Damn..."I'm not sure."

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