Enlisting to Avoid the Draft & Being Drafted (Was: Summer of Love) -- multiple responses

SIXTIES-L (SIXTIES-L@jefferson.village.virginia.edu)
Thu, 28 Aug 1997 14:00:40 -0400


From: Henry Beigh <henryb@imagebuilder.com>
Subject: Re: Vets and the Summer of Love


As a 10+ year veteran of the Marine Corps, I owe you many thanks for
articulating so eloquently what I feel about having been part of the
"other side" during the war years.

It is very easy for those not involved directly to point their
fingers and say "these are evil people". Why did I go? I got drafted so
I decided to enlist in the Marines rather than be drafted. At the time I
believed we were doing the right thing (after al, daddy told me we
were). Also, I knew that if I ran, my father would hunt me down and kick
my ass all the way back to the SS office. Misguided beliefs and a fair
amount of coercion pretty much sums it up for a large number of us
"baby-killing, gore-loving" vets.

Again Joe, thanks so much. I'll see you in SF and buy you that drink
I promised.


Henry C. Beigh (503) 684-5151 x554
ImageBuilder Software
6650 Redwood Lane, #200 henryb@imagebuilder.com
Portland, OR 97224 modok@teleport.com


From: kslinkar@lionheart.berkeley.edu
Subject: Re: Vets and the Summer of Love

To All:

I am not sure what I have to add to this thread, but I am both an
overage hippie and veteran. I was drafted in February of 1967. I can
not complain that I was a naive kid or a victim of circumstances. I
was a twenty-three year old petite bourgeois hippie intellectual
college dropout who had long argued the immorality of the Vietnam War.
I had also gone to a military high school, so I had some idea of
military life. When my draft notice arrived, I decided I had three

1. I could go to jail (refusing the draft)
2. I could evade the draft (go to Canada, get out on a technicality)
3. I could be drafted, do my hitch, and go back to college on the GI

As I already knew that my eyesight, while good enough to be drafted,
was too poor for a combat arms mos (military occupational
specialty)[i.e., I knew in advance I would not spend the war lying
face down in a rice paddy!], I opted for option number 3. I was
drafted and wound up stationed at the Presidio of San Francisco just
in time for the Summer of Love as a PFC! I was given a 91R20 MOS,
which meant that I was an Army food inspector.

After the summer of love, I was shipped to Bangkok, where my
contribution to the war was to check the cleanliness and refrigeration
of the trucks shipping milk and ice-cream to the bases in Thailand
(largely those bases responsible for bombing Viet Nam.) The only
combat I saw were several brawls and a knife fight outside a bordello
where thankfully I was arrested by the Thai police before I was

My reup card contained the single entry: "Forget it. Hippie!"

Now am I a victim? aggressor? chicken-shit? Should I have been a
martyr to the cause? Should I have become an ex-patriot? I knew I
could slide through, without having to kill or be killed, and then get
on with my life. That is what I thought I did. Somehow, along the
way, I became a drug and alcohol addict. I am currently working at a
job far below my expected level, and I am in trouble with my third

When I went to the Vietnam Veteran's Wall in DC recently, I was
unexpectedly overcome with emotion. I remembered an acquaintance who
had be some sort of "spook" with the montagnards in the central
plateau for four years only to get shot by a "cowboy on a moped" who
blew his ankle away during a botched holdup in Saigon the day before
he was to "go back to the world."

There was so much pain that we never saw coming, no matter how clever
our plans. The whole situation was so absurd. Some people obviously
were made of sterner stuff than most of us. Some people seem to have
seen their role and the future more clearly than the rest of us. But
most of us tried to fit the war into our lives like our jobs, our
marriages, and hoped that it would somehow all work out. I don't
think for most of us, it did work out very well. At the wall there
were the names of so many who never got the chance to regret that they
hadn't done it better. It is really hard to "face the wall."

Karl Slinkard, US56585704