clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:


All this talk about Bill Clinton's and Dan Quayle's draft status is scaring me. It makes me think I might be a poor risk for political office - disturbing news indeed for a leading candidate for governor.

I sort of had my heart set on it.Clinton and Quayle are both baby boomers who allegedly made a concerted effort to avoid the draft. But c'mon - wouldn't almost anyone between the ages of 18 and 21 try to either avoid or put off military service?

I would love to spend millions of dollars on ads and become the victim of even more vicious attacks than I already get. But that crazy dream is over now.

That's because my own draft record may even be more suspect than that of either Clinton or Quayle.

When I graduated from high school, at the end of the '50s, some of my classmates volunteered immediately and served six months at Fort Ord, Calif., thus fulfilling their military obligations.

That's the way it was done then.

But some of my elite friends and I decided that even six months might be quite unpleasant at the lowest end of the military scale. We reasoned that if we enrolled instead in ROTC at the University of Utah, we could get a 4-year college education, and go into the service as second lieutenants.

In the meantime I was called by Selective Service to report for a physical exam. I remember being quite nervous that day, and my hands were sweating profusely. When they took my blood pressure it went off the charts.

The examining officer accused me of guzzling a Coke before I came. It wasn't true, but they didn't believe me. So they rescheduled me for another exam on another day. When my blood pressure was up again, they classified me 1-Y, a fuzzy label, meaning I was considered temporarily unfit to serve.

But they were skeptical, and so a couple of months later they called me in for still another physical. Sure enough, the pressure was up again. This time, they took me to a small room with only a cot inside and said, "We want you to lie on the cot and rest and get nice and relaxed, then we'll check your blood pressure again."

After several hours, nervousness left and boredom set in. They took one more reading and a medical miracle occurred. I was completely normal! They happily classified me 1-A and let me go home.

"We got you, buddy," one officer said triumphantly.

He was wrong, actually. Once enrolled in ROTC, I joined the band where I played French horn. It got me out of some painful drilling, although I was not fond of the hours spent cleaning my M-1 rifle, and the endless strategy classes.

After two years in the ROTC, I paused in my education to serve an LDS mission to New Zealand.

When I returned, I recklessly decided to bag ROTC and take my chances with the draft. Then I discovered I could qualify for a student deferment and still finish my education. After I got the degree, I continued to get student deferments through a master's degree.

When Marti and I had our first child, I applied for a "father deferment," and it was granted. By the time I got a Ph.D. in 1969, I was apparently no longer interesting to the draft board.

What I'm saying is that I ROTC'd and deferred myself right out of the military - before Bill Clinton's day - and without using any influence whatsoever. The truth is I always intended to go - but as an officer - or at least after I finished my education - but by then it was too late!

You still don't believe me? Too bad. I refuse to answer any more questions.