With the killing of that terrorist bad guy and war clouds gathering in the Middle East, there may be a U.S. build-up of our Armed Forces. Rumors are from President Trump that it could mean return to drafting young guys into the Army.
Although the U.S. has been involved in wars for years, there has been no Selective Service draft since 1973. Today’s news brings me back almost eight decades since I experienced being drafted during World War 2. When I hit my 18th birthday, I was required by law to register.
I then had a brilliant idea several weeks before that day. Not wanting to spend the war in muddy trenches, I decided to join the Navy, which allowed recruiting at age 17. I went to the Selective Service office, signed all the necessary papers and was told to go home and await orders to report for USN service.
So, with proper papers in hand, I arrived at the Philadelphia recruiting office on my 18th birthday in August 1943. After passing the physical, I was prepared to go home and await assignment to Navy boot camp. However, a grizzled Army sergeant recruiter there, told me I was now in the Army. I objected and informed him I had joined the Navy. He casually said the daily Navy recruiting quota was filled, and I was in the Army now.
I argued, but the sergeant said I had no choice. Another recruiter, a Marine master sergeant, who had heard my loud complaints, took me aside. He looked at my papers I had signed to join the Navy. He then asked if I was related to a guy with my same last name who operated a nearby pharmacy. I truthfully said he was my dad’s brother, Uncle Eric.
The Marine then told me that my uncle had helped his family financially when they couldn’t afford to pay for medications in the 1930s. He continued quickly with the welcome words: Kid, you’re in the Navy now! And two weeks later I was on my way to boot camp.