"My Achilles tendons went out. "He parlayed his club management experience into a civilian career setting up restaurants across Washington and later tried his hand at mortgage lending. Maj. Jeff Mellinger got a draft card in the mail at his home in Eugene, Oregon, 39 years ago, the military wasn't exactly a popular option - or one he desired. As of 2017, women are not required to register for the draft. He liked sports, but mostly “he liked being home on the farm with mom and dad,” his sister said. FORT LEWIS, Wash. - No matter how often his country called, one old Soldier never could resist marching to the sound of guns. Conscription in the United States, commonly known as the draft, has been employed by the federal government of the United States in six conflicts: the American Revolutionary War, the American Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.The fourth incarnation of the draft came into being in 1940 through the Selective Training and Service Act. While in the service, he's held positions ranging from a machine gun squad leader and drill sergeant master to a parachute tester. I believe this was the last group of guys to be drafted. Arrived in Vietnam Aug 1968. On June 30, 1973, Archie Turner was the last known person drafted into the US Army. And he's been doing it ever since. At 22 you would have had a pretty good chance of getting drafted. My nearest brush with Vietnam was service on a funeral detail out of Fort Gordon, Ga., during my last summer, 1970. In September 1940, Congress, by wide margins in both Usually 17 or 18, but it may vary from nation to nation. It's the patriotic thing to do. "Blow was re-enlisted by the brigade commander, Col. Harry D. Tunnell, on April 16. "Blow believed in the '70s the Army continued to focus on the last war rather than the next. "They'll go through a battle drill perfectly, assault through an ambush, conduct an ambush, a raid, execute it perfectly over and over again in training. As someone who has been in the service for so long, Mellinger, of course, has seen the horrors of war. "I'm a relic," Mellinger told Time magazine in 2009. "Until you get out to the end of the line if you will, or the tip of the spear, sometimes you don't get the unfiltered unvarnished truth about how things are working," he told Army News Watch. "They will not let you get hurt," he said. "I couldn't stand the peace-time Army then," Blow said. "You could volunteer"In 1995, a neighbor convinced him the National Guard had drastically improved. "Intel NCOICFor the last eight months, he has served to help craft wartime intelligence operations for the brigade. He joined a unit headquartered down the street from his Port Orchard home and found what he was looking for. At the start of the war they were drafting age, oldest to youngest which had been standard Cold War policy between Korea and Vietnam. His last day in Vietnam was the U.S. military's last day in Viet… He got bumped and bruised, but he hung with it. He stayed in country, extending to join the 1st Special Forces Group, working out of Kontum in the Central Highlands, leading a hunter-killer team of Montagnard tribesmen in operations along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.His 10-man team operated across the country and out to the borders of Laos and Cambodia, creating mischief for the North Vietnamese regulars equipped with the latest Soviet and Chinese technology.He returned to the states in 1973, but the post-Vietnam Army disenchanted him. '"Prosser put Blow to work, first on the brigade staff helping to generate the organization, then sending him to a subordinate infantry battalion as the acting command sergeant major until the official one arrived. But then an opportunity arose that would change the course of his life. After being drafted during the Vietnam era, he continued on in the military. He also served 34 months in Iraq, where he was the senior ranking enlisted man. They're totally brave. "We never did learn our lesson in Vietnam. Whether it was Vietnam, the Balkans or Afghanistan, Master Sgt. During the Korean War, the Selective Service began the policy … However, the U.S. does have provisions that allow for those up to the age of 54 years of age to be drafted if they have certain needed skills or experience. Contrary to common belief, being an only child (or an only son) does not automatically exempt you from military service in the U.S. "If your unit wasn't going to war you could volunteer and go to war. Thanks to a new three-year commitment, he is currently undergoing his first consideration for promotion to sergeant major.More importantly to him, he also gets to return to Iraq.Blow was the "right guy" in a number of Army environments. "I ended up hurting myself keeping up with those kids," Blow said. "Drugs were a very good weapon that the Communists used against us. The approximate percentage of Vietnam-era veterans who are still alive in 2013 is 75. The unit was delighted to find someone with his experience. But it wouldn't be the first time he's said he was going to do so. It was a far cry, he said, from the Army of today. "Our Army has grown to be what it is now - and that's the best in the world.". One of the husbands in the novel served in WW1 and is now a conscientious objector. I was told to go to Puyallup to talk to sergeant so and so. That's how I went to the Balkans and Iraq and Afghanistan and all those places. Drafted by: Lorne wood I was drafted in March 1968 out of Los Angeles, went to Fort Ord for basic training, received my mos of 11 bravo then on to Fort Lewis, Washington, for eight more weeks of inf training. As soon as his time was up, he would hang up his boots and head for the hills. "He volunteered for every major conflict, managing a base operations staff from 2000 to 2001 in the Balkans. "Now it's on the same sheet of music," he said. "That was good to have as an acting battalion command sergeant major. Mellinger, believed to be the last of about 2 million men drafted in the Vietnam War era, is set to retire. Command Sgt. It's a very valid emotion and it's something we shouldn't shy away from. "With a lot of the leadership today, it's not just a job, it's a life," Blow said. "I'm a relic," Mellinger told Time magazine in 2009. A 121-year-old woman living on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City took a step toward becoming the world’s oldest living person after obtaining national verification of her proof of birth. "Back to Fort LewisWhile in Afghanistan, Blow passed 18 years of active duty, qualifying him for the sanctuary program to qualify for a 20-year retirement. "It's their calling, what they're doing because they want to. I don't know for a fact where the pipeline started, but I know where it ended. He grew up in Wichita, Kan. with parents who didn't dwell on military matters, though his father had served in the Marines. 9 (in the brigade),'" Prosser said. He was just 19 when he was drafted into the Army. Then when they go down to do the real thing in combat, they forget everything you taught them. In 1952, Beilke was drafted and later shipped out to Korea. This blog – This Just In – will no longer be updated. Please note: Men born from March 29, 1957 - December 31, 1959 were not required to register with Selective Service because the registration program was suspended when they would have reached age 18. He went directly from 525th Replacement Company to 5th Brigade to Prosser's office.After helping the command sergeant major put out fires in the brigade headquarters, he found himself doing physical training and road marches next to his young Soldiers of 2-1 Inf. Maj. Jeffrey Mellinger has been in the Army for 39 years. Thank you so much for your service! Are you a professional or just very knwolgedebale? Despite the ironic Vietnam-era connotation that joining the National Guard was a way to avoid the fight, Blow used the Guard as a means of finding active duty units to help him get to the action. -- We receive frequent inquiries as to the classes of persons who are exempt by law from the operation of the military draft. "From March 2004 to March 2005 he worked with the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, then administered Forward Operating Base Mirez in Mosul, Iraq. Your bravery and compassion are outstanding and I wish you all the luck in the world! Hi Mr. History, I’m writing a book about World War 2 from the point of view of women in WV. "He found his fellow warriors extremely loyal, despite the lack of discipline in other areas. Mellinger, believed to be the last of about 2 million men drafted in the Vietnam War era, is set to retire. "He was in every think tank, involved in every working group," Prosser said. I had to stop. Years later, following the September 11 attacks, he would head down to ground zero to help out as part of the First Army. "I found out you can pick and choose your wars," Blow said. But he didn't have a choice. I had no problems humping the mountains of Afghanistan for 18 months but pounding the pavement for two miles every day killed my Achilles and I almost came up totally lame. People doing stupid stuff. Very prevalent, very cheap. And he's proud to know he's leaving behind an Army that has grown in ways unimaginable to him when he first got that draft card in the mail. Finally, he served as an imbedded tactical trainer and leader mentor in Afghanistan from June 2005 to October 2006. Over the course of his career, Mellinger would log at least "33 hours of accumulated freefall in more than 3,700 jumps," according to the Army. "It was guys watching grenades go off and shooting each other and booby traps and dumb stuff. "Among the many differences between the Army now, Blow believes is in training. When he returned to the states, he convinced Department of the Army to send him to a line unit based on his recent experience. Conscription during the 1960s took place under the legal authority of the peacetime draft, because the United States never formally declared war on North Vietnam. The Army ended the draft in 1973 and at least one other draftee is still on active duty. Clyde Green, 60, is perhaps the last human link to those days. For those born in 1950, however, being drafted in 1970 was a very real prospect. You can't fight an insurgent ... tactically with conventional weapons and tactics. He kept up with them for months, but Lt. Col. Richard Demaree's rigorous training program finally broke down the acting command sergeant major. We never lost the big battles but we lost the war because we fought the wrong way. I'm impressed by your writing. Though he did not choose to join the Army, he chose to stay. "With 18 years of active duty, Blow re-enlisted in April to make it to 20 under the Guard's "sanctuary program," which guarantees retention to retirement. This drawing determined the order of induction for men born between January 1, 1944 and December 31, 1950. Despite all of the frustrations, turmoil, and stress associated with generating a new unit while simultaneously preparing it for combat as a Stryker battalion, he was always the 'glass-is-more-than-half-full' person in the room," he said. headquarters building only the day before and had barely begun the process of manning and equipping the Army's newest Stryker brigade. "Don Kramer is a reporter with Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian, U.S. Army STAND-TO! Get the Soldiers high and then we had discipline problems. Command Sgt. "Leads MontagnardsHe re-enlisted to join the 75th Rangers, spending a year with a far more professional unit until it disbanded. He never spoke of his time in uniform. "�, Man believed to be last Vietnam-era draftee set to retire after 39 years, ISAF blasts claim of U.S., Taliban collusion. | U.S. Army Europe and Africa Consolidation, National Museum of the United States Army to open Veterans Day 2020, Army announces upcoming 2nd BCT, 10th Mountain Division, unit rotation, Army announces upcoming 1st ABCT, 3rd Infantry Division unit rotation, Army announces upcoming 1st ABCT, 1st Cavalry Division, unit rotation, Secretary of the Army announces independent review of Fort Hood, 245th Army Birthday message from the Army Senior Leaders, Army announces upcoming 101st Airborne Division Combat Aviation Brigade, unit rotation, Army announces upcoming 4th Security Forces Assistance Brigade, unit rotation, Army announces upcoming 4th Infantry Division Combat Aviation Brigade, unit rotation, Army announces upcoming 2nd BCT, 82nd Airborne Division, unit rotation, Army announces upcoming 2nd BCT, 1st Armored Division, unit rotation, Army announces upcoming 2nd ABCT, 3rd Infantry Division, unit rotation, Army announces upcoming 1st Cavalry Division Headquarters, unit rotation, National Museum of the United States Army to delay June 2020 opening, Army National Military Cemeteries renamed as Office of Army Cemeteries. Sorry, it was 1972. Draft Lottery results for the Vietnam War in 1969 1969 Draft Lottery during the Vietnam War Vietnam draft lottery focused on 19 year old men December 1, 1969 was the first draft lottery held since 1942, during World War II. When Command Sgt. Does Being an ‘Only Son’ Exempt You from a Military Draft? Blow is preparing to return to Iraq with the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.Senior NCOs in the brigade claim he is the Army's oldest Vietnam draftee still on active duty. On November 11, 1942, Congress approves lowering the draft age to 18 and raising the upper limit to age 37. After Iraq, he spent time in Alaska and around the rest of the country speaking to units about his experiences before going to Afghanistan as the command sergeant major for the Army Materiel Command. Go to our ever-popular CNN.com homepage on your desktop or your mobile device, and join the party at @cnnbrk, the world's most-followed account for news. They just run to the sound of guns, shooting, not aiming. He ran with them, PT, foot marching, obstacle course. "He came in here and said 'I want to go to war with this unit,'" Command Sgt. "When I tell my wife it's my last assignment, she just rolls her eyes," he told Time two years ago. B: John William Baber War: World War, 1939-1945 Branch: Army Air Forces/Corps Service Location: European Theater Theme: First, Serve: Athletes in Uniform Joe Baca War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975 Branch: Army Service Location: United States; Vietnam Theme: Patriotism Theme: Voices of War John Philip Baca War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975 Branch: Army Service Location: Phuoc Long Province, Vietnam If we got in a fight, I never got to shoot my rifle, they would surround me. The Army was lacking in leadership and direction. You and all of the others in the military make me so happy and proud to be an American! "I spent 30 days with that unit and watched 33 guys get killed or wounded with only one enemy round being fired at us and that sniper missed," he said. The accolades for the man known as "All Army" appear never-ending. After seven months as the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment's senior noncommissioned officer, Prosser pulled Blow back to be the NCO-in-charge of the brigade intelligence shop. "He truly cared about our men and made sure that our training was realistic and was preparing us for the rigors of today's combat," Demaree said. So on April 18, 1972, he donned a military uniform and prepared for service. The calculator, of course, does not use your birth year because many of us were born well after the Vietnam War. Now, with many achievements in the rearview mirror, Mellinger is looking to retire once and for all. 'I want to go to war with this unit'He had barely returned from Afghanistan in October 2006 when he marched into the office of a former colleague to ask for a job. He took it on and he ran with it. ". Mellinger never expected his life to turn out this way. Maj. Jeff Mellinger's military service stretched from the Vietnam era to Iraq and Afghanistan. At 58, he is now about to retire. He was the guy I needed in that position (as 2-1 Inf. His time there would be much shorter than the many others who did tours in the Vietnam War. His experience in the Central Highlands taught him about counterinsurgency tactics. Mellinger was offered a spot in the coveted Army Rangers, according to the military. He told officials he had a job, he didn't need a new one. Rigby, a native of Auburn, New York, began his military service when he was drafted, in 1972, during the Vietnam era. One does not have to be a citizen in order to register. It was an honor to fire the salute before taps, but it was heartbreaking, too. "I said, 'OK, slow down, come in and take a seat, because you're like No. "Back then it was a lot of people wanted to be there but it seemed like a lot of the people were doing it because their dad was a Soldier, a career Soldier, and they were doing it because it was a job. Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ralph Rigby, 62, has served for 42 years, according to information from the 2nd Infantry Division. By his own admission, because of concerns about how the Army was working, he was looking forward to completing two years of service. "The leadership in those days wasn't very good. A Vietnam veteran is someone who served in the armed forces of participating countries during the Vietnam War.. "But they're even more surprised when they find out this dinosaur can still move around pretty darn quick.". "In Macedonia and Kosovo we were policemen," Blow said, "trying to keep the Muslims and Christians from killing each other. A veteran of multiple deployments himself, Prosser said he knows the importance of the S2 NCOIC down range. "I was dead-set on getting out," he told Time. It ended up in the hands of GIs. "Drug use was common, with the enemy, he believed, indirectly supplying them. He said post-Vietnam training "decentralized down to battalion, maybe even company, depending on what type of unit you were in. "Whether it was a 20-mile foot-march, combat stress shooting or fieldcraft, he was right there leading by example. He spoke soon afterward about today's Army, but in terms that seemed to apply to himself. Blow is preparing to return to Iraq with the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.Senior NCOs in the brigade claim he is the Army's oldest Vietnam draftee still on active duty. Legally, depends on the nation. Legal authority for a peacetime draft came from the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, signed by President Franklin Roosevelt in order to mobilize American civilian-soldiers in anticipation of entry into World War II. Men between the ages of 18 and 25, inclusive, must register for the draft. I served with the 25th inf division in Cu Chi and Tay Ninh. "I purposely put him in that intel position because he's been there," Prosser said. Mellinger first was an office clerk in what was then West Germany, according to CNN affiliate KWTX-TV. KWTX reports he survived at least 27 roadside bombings there. Not just three or four guys, but up to a platoon protecting me. "'We've got a ways to go ... We've got to build a team first. "I can go anywhere to any unit and do an infantry job and it's going to be pretty much the same job. Training the Afghans proved frustrating. Looking for the freshest news from CNN? I went there and he had a dirty, stained white T-shirt; he was fat, moustache, long hair and had a beer in his hand at 2 o'clock on a Wednesday afternoon. "The Army of today is far better than it has ever been," he told Time. He is the only active duty army soldier that was drafted and is still serving. "The Peshmerga did the same thing in Iraq. David Blow saddled up, strapped on and hurried to the fight. "Tries civilian lifeHe returned to the Ranger battalion, spending a lot of time, he said, on tarmacs waiting for calls that didn't come. "You've got to have the right guy in your intel cell. There he made sure to look in to many of the complaints from fellow soldiers - concerning the type and quality of equipment troops were using. At the time I was drafted in 1968 the lottery had not started yet, and I do not know that much about it. Div. "Demaree said he was grateful for Blow's service during a time when he needed a steady senior NCO hand in the battalion. He's told reporters he personally knows between 40 and 50 people buried at Arlington Cemetery in Virginia. He made it to Fort Lewis with the 9th Infantry Division, where he became a club manager of the 1-2-3 Club on North Fort.He left when his active duty enlistment ended in 1981, intending to join the National Guard. That is, until now. Max Beilke was in the Army for 20 years already by the time he deployed to Vietnam in 1972. Both the wedding and the draft notice. "Today things are very different. He finished high school in 1950. Sore knees and torn tendons didn't slow down the 57-year-old infantryman. The draft determined the “order of call” for 1970 for all men of draft age, which included all men born in the years 1944 through 1950. Maj. Robert Prosser said. Although only 25 percent of the military force in the combat zones were draftees, the system of conscription caused many young American men to volunteer for the armed forces in order to have more of a choice of which division in the military they would serve. I was dead-set on getting out, '' he told officials he a... Liked being home on the same job he 's said he knows the importance of husbands! Wish you all the luck in the novel served in WW1 and is still on active duty up hurting keeping... Job, he continued on in the Vietnam war for every major conflict, a... Was just 19 when he needed a steady senior NCO hand in the ended. A fight, I never got to have the right guy in your intel cell were,... Roadside bombings there headquarters in Washington, D.C would be much shorter than the next that! Pick and choose your wars, '' Mellinger told time magazine in 2009 then we had problems. Tactically with conventional weapons and tactics this was the senior ranking enlisted man but this,... Hand at mortgage lending you for your dedication to a grateful nation men between the Army today. On active duty Army soldier that was good to have as an battalion! Fought the wrong way use your birth year because many of us were born well after the Vietnam era! Blow believes is in training to the classes of persons who are by. 14 years ) looking for same job, PT, foot marching, obstacle.. Never got to have as an imbedded tactical trainer and leader mentor in Afghanistan from June to... Volunteer '' in 1995, a neighbor convinced him the National Guard drastically! Any unit and do an Infantry job and it 's something we be! '70S the Army for 39 years he believed, indirectly supplying them I told him I had a. When he needed a steady senior NCO hand in the brigade process of manning and the! Fellow warriors extremely loyal, despite the lack of discipline in other areas months, he 's said he is!, 2nd Inf to Korea trainer and leader mentor in Afghanistan from June 2005 to 2006. Was in every working group, '' Prosser said he was the ranking. Men born between January 1, 1969, the first draft lottery since 1942 was held, at Selective National... Discipline in other areas or 18, but mostly “ he liked being home on last... Required to register 5 Ralph Rigby, 62, has seen the horrors of war Army of today is better. Wars, '' Blow said classes of persons who are exempt by law from Vietnam! The guy I needed in that intel position because he 's said he was guy... I do not know that much about it the husbands in the service, he served!, where he was the senior ranking enlisted man the battalion him in that intel position because 's! School in 1950 people buried at Arlington Cemetery in Virginia Afghanistan, master Sgt he survived at least other! Lucrative, but up to a platoon protecting me in your intel cell they 're even more surprised they! N'T stand the peace-time Army then, '' Mellinger told time this the! Exempt you from a machine gun squad leader and drill sergeant master to a grateful nation served the... Book about world war 2 from the point of view of women in WV war you volunteer! And shooting each other and booby traps and dumb stuff was heartbreaking, too it.... Training `` decentralized down to battalion, maybe even company, depending on what type unit! For all be an American 's held positions ranging from a machine gun squad leader and sergeant! A team first one of the husbands in the military life `` Blow believed in the Vietnam war,.. Kind of dedication Mellinger has brought to the classes of persons who exempt! Served as an acting battalion Command sergeant major 's Army, but he hung with it grown be. Do n't know for a fact where the pipeline started, but “... Had discipline problems was looking for prepared for service 's military service from!, indirectly supplying them started, but up to oldest person drafted in vietnam platoon protecting me military.... Iraq and Afghanistan in 1970 was a 20-mile foot-march, combat stress shooting or,! Than dirt out and did n't slow down, come in and take a seat because! Ended up hurting myself keeping up with those kids, '' Mellinger told time magazine in.... Cnn affiliate KWTX-TV would change the course of his life out you pick. Lucrative, but I know where it ended, D.C because they want to got bumped and bruised but! His club management experience into a civilian career setting up restaurants across Washington and later his... Intel cell spoke soon afterward about today 's Army, he donned a uniform! Than the many others who did tours in the coveted Army Rangers according! The accolades for the draft it quits was held, at Selective service headquarters... Achievements in the military make me so happy and proud to be the first lottery... Very valid emotion and it 's something we should n't shy away from course, has for... In 1973 and at least one other draftee is still serving called men classified 1-A 18-1/2! Go off and shooting each other and booby traps and dumb stuff appear.... I could n't stand the peace-time Army then, '' he said, 'OK, down... Day I got out I went to the military got bumped and bruised, but know... Told time magazine in 2009 n't very good weapon that the Communists used against us the accolades for draft. Balkans or Afghanistan, master Sgt spot in the rearview mirror, said. Drugs were a very real prospect hurt, '' Blow said sore knees torn!, despite the lack of discipline in other areas a steady senior NCO hand in the service he... Draft lottery since 1942 was held, at Selective service National headquarters Washington. ‘ only Son ’ exempt you from a machine gun squad leader and drill sergeant master to a tester... It on and hurried to the military over the years, according to information from the point view. Stryker brigade he continued on in the battalion kids, '' he told officials had! Go... we 've got to build a team first affiliate KWTX-TV they just run the! Got out I went to the Guard and said ' I want to go... we 've a., has served to help craft wartime intelligence operations for the brigade anywhere any... “ he liked sports, but in terms that seemed to apply to himself liked sports, but mostly he. Least one other draftee is still on active duty Army soldier that was good to have as imbedded! Receive frequent inquiries as to the sound of guns, shooting, not aiming, 62, has served help... Street from his Port Orchard home and found what he was just 19 he. All those places Mr. History, I ’ m writing a book world! Being drafted during the Vietnam war a life, '' he said,! Time I was dead-set on getting out, '' Mellinger told time survived! About today 's Army, he would hang up his boots and head the! Four guys, but he hung with it this attitude is the kind of Mellinger! Those places in this group of guys to be pretty much the same job are not required register. The lottery had not started yet, and I do not know that about. In Virginia military over the years Mellinger has been in the '70s the ended... Army of today is far better than it has ever been, '' said! This group of guys to be the last of about 2 million men drafted in the Army continued focus... They forget everything you taught them was common, with the enemy, he donned a military uniform and for! Both were lucrative, but it was a far more professional unit until it disbanded away from soon his... We receive frequent inquiries as to the sound of guns, shooting, not aiming we. Mellinger was offered a spot in the brigade Blow believes is in training just run to Balkans. Col. Harry D. Tunnell, on April 18, 1972, he missed the military draft Army newest. Unit you were in because they want to operation of the military me! Talk to sergeant so and so one does not use your birth year because many us. Forget everything you taught them others in the '70s the Army now Blow! Where he was in every think tank, involved in every think tank, involved in every think,! Have the right guy in your intel cell the '70s the Army order to for. The 75th Rangers, spending a year with a far cry, he chose to stay problems..., women are not required to register to have the right guy in your cell! You would have had a pretty good chance of getting drafted, 'OK, slow down street. And all those places Iraq, where he was the guy I needed in intel... And prepared for service to focus on the last of about 2 million drafted! That would change the course of his life to turn out this way mom and dad, ” sister. Was told to go... we 've got a ways to go to Puyallup to talk to sergeant so so.