Draft Board

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By Jim Ludden, Nigeria VII, stationed in Arochuku, moved to Germany in September 1965

While overseas I seem to have been haunted by my local Draft Board. Rumor had it that they had drafted a Peace Corps volunteer from overseas service into the military.

Here are my notes while in service:

21 July 1964: Thank you, Dad, for the draft card. This one should finish my business with the draft board. I'll be too old after I get out of the Kennedy Army.

14 November 1964: I received yesterday a letter from the draft board, mailed 4 June, with the notice ‘return if not delivered in 10 days‘. Hah!

22 July 1966 [from Germany]: My draft status has been 1-A for the past two years. I'm over 26 now, and in the sixth (out of seven) category for calling up. They have to get everyone under 26 before they call me up. Trust I'm safe for a while.

24 March 1966: Yesterday I thought I’d write an epistle about this nonsense in Vietnam: about how Walter Lippmann says we can’t possibly win (and there is not much sense in losing) and how anyone who had been through Sargent Shriver’s brainwash course could not possibly fight in an army, especially if he had been to Germany and seen the still-gutted Petrikirche in Lübeck or the cracked and bullet-pocked apartment houses in Berlin or the wall or hard talked with countless Germans who had lost a leg or eye or father or son or brothers or whose family still lives on “the other side” because the winners had divided the spoils with barbed-wire fences and machine pistols—but decided not to write about that because you probably feel the same. What you may not know is that I think it is suicide for the soldier and the country. A guy doesn’t make friends by blowing up the entire, sole material possessions of a peasant whose annual earning is about $50. I hope the draft board feels this way, too, and doesn’t bother sending me a “notice to report for physical exam” because my response will not be positive. Besides, in 2 1/2 weeks I’ll be too old.

9 October 1966: I filled out the Draft Board forms and sent them back immediately. I wish the War Corps boys would get off my back. One friend of mine from the Peace Corps is seriously considering emigrating to Canada. That’s a bit drastic, but I’ll fight tooth and nail against going to Vietnam. I’d rather rot in prison than get shot in the back by some guerrilla in a palm tree. How many of “our boys” have returned from active duty in Vietnam?

After I returned I wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper, asking him not to print my name, fearing the draft board would ship me to Vietnam. He printed it, in full, within an editorial, without my name. I always suspected that my father pulled some strings to keep me out of the army. He never talked of his service in WWII.

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