MY Military Career, Part #1…”My DRAFT LOTTERY NUMBER was #35″.

AB JOHN W. Gray, USAF, Basic Training, Lackland AFB, San Antonio, Tx, July 25, 1971
The year was 1971. The Vietnam War was still goin’ strong. The Draft was still active & goin’ strong as well. All across our nation, young Men, because Women were NOT DRAFTED!, were scurrin’ to make decisions concernin’ their futures. My DRAFT LOTTERY NUMBER was #35. To ME this meant ACT & ACT QUICK! Dodgin’ the Draft never entered my mind. My Grandfathers, Father, & Step Father had all served our Nation. I was not goin’ to be any different. Now, with that in mind, I decided I was NOT goin’ to be Drafted & have NO say as to my future. But I was willin’ to Enlist & have some choice as to what direction my life would head. I found I had other friends at that same time who were plannin’ on goin’ into “The Military” for different reasons. So we started Skippin’ School and Visitin’ “The Military Recruiters” offices and talkin’ about our individual options & opportunities. In the beginnin’ we weren’t even interested in talkin to the Army guy. Too many stories were floatin’ around, Basic Trainnin’ to Tech/MOS School to Ft. Polk, LA to Vietnam! “The QUICK TRIP”! That was not what we were lookin’ for. So we spoke the Navy guy, Coast Guard guy, & the Marine guy. “Come on in, let’s talk about your FUTURE”! Now they were thinkin’ the way we were, or so we thought!
Well did I ever start gettin’ calls @ home @ night. Those Recruiters were just doin’ their jobs. But the Marine Recruiter was really dogged me! I’ve got you a ticket to Montgomery for tomorrow or “He” would even drive me down there himself! I found out my buddies were bein’ treated the same way. So about the 3rd trip down to visit we realized the Air Force guy never bothered to invite us in. We thought that rather strange? So we “Stepped into his Web”! He explained to us, that He/The USAF would ONLY talk to High School Grads or those with the Equivalents/A GED! We asked “SO”? As it turned out AT THAT TIME the other Branches of The Military would take any ” Livin’ Breathin’ Body” they could get to pass a Physical! They’d promise ya the world to & deliver none of it. And at that time, or so I was told’ it was possible to get drafted into any of the other branches of the Military, dependin’ on their body requirements. So, we took the AFQT Test from the USAF guy. All Branches gave it, it was more or less a General Aptitude Test, & that would determine what you were qualified for. It was broken down into several fields. My Individual scores came back & I had scored highest in Electronics! Don’t ask me how, cause I had NO trainin’ or background in Electronics. So after lookin’ at the list of options I settled on Air Traffic Control (ATC) for my Tech School. So, all things considered I liked what I saw. As did my 3 Buddies for their Options. So, we all took actions, that we individually needed to. Such as gettin’ Grade Transcripts verified that we would all be Graduates & eligible to get Sworn-into The Delayed Enlistment Program, so we couldn’t be Drafted. Time was precious {{{tick-tock-tick-tock}}}.  Wellll, for “Ole Bill” there was a problem! I would HAVE to go to Summer School which was doable in most cases but there was a possibility I might not be able to work that out. Meanin’ I might have to make up more classes than I could take in Summer School meanin’ “HELLO DRAFT”!  I went to see my Boys Counselor as soon as I got back to school that day. Explained my situation. Basically PLEADED with him for his help. He said he’d look into it & get back to me. To be honest with you, I didn’t feel good about his interest level nor my chances. I was wrong! Let me say that again “BOY WAS I WRONG”! My Counselor came thru like a CHAMP! He came back to me with an option to pull off a GED. But there were more variables than I have time to explain. Let me just say there were terms & conditions I had to comply to. No SCREW UPS allowed! I’ll just say things worked out for me & we ALL 4 went for our Physicals, passed & were Sworn-In to the “USAF Delayed Enlistment Program” in late March. The other 3 graduated in May & we were all 4 Discharged from the Delayed Enlistment Program & Sworn-In to Active Duty on June 23, 1971 & headed to lovely Lackland AFB, San Antonio. TX for Basic Trainin’ ” . What a wonderful place to spend your Summer…”Hold’em Hook”!…..BG>


One thought on “MY Military Career, Part #1…”My DRAFT LOTTERY NUMBER was #35″.

  1. I just learned so much from your post. This is a side rarely spoken about on the history channel. My father went in around the same time, I think, and went into the navy….but he never learned to swim a lick….even on a ship as medic! Go figure!


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