Author's Name: Mary Guise
I was the youngest of four children, born in 1947 and graduated from high school in 1966. By 1967 both of my brothers and one step brother were in the military. Jim was in the Air Force stationed somewhere in Southeast Asia (he couldn't say where). We found out later he was in Thailand. Allen was in the Navy, first in Japan and eventually in the Me Kong Delta. Ed was in the Army and stationed in South Korea.
Every young man I knew was either drafted or signed up to avoid the draft. My boyfriend, Cliff, was drafted into the Army and was luckily stationed in Honolulu for the duration of his service. His two brothers and all of his friends were not so lucky. His oldest brother, Skip, was a navigator and served in Southeast Asia. He was shot down twice, barely escaping with his life. His younger brother, Chris, was drafted into the Marines and drove troop trucks in Viet Nam. Chris visited his cousin Jeff at a nearby base, also in Viet Nam. My best friend Connie (who was also Cliff's sister) had a boyfriend named Dan. Dan was a drafted into the Army. A member of the 101 First Airborn Division, he arrived in Viet Nam on the eve of the Tet offensive. We were all lucky. No one close was killed.
For a young girl just out of high school these were lonely days and nights. Together with friends and relatives we wrote letters constantly and sent many care packages of cookies and such. I have photos of my mother posing with three of her brothers and my father all in uniform in the 1940's. Her life was almost a mirror of mine over twenty years apart.
I come from a middle class family as did my friends. My husband says the draft kept the military honest. Maybe it did, but I still believe it was an unfair burden on the middle and lower classes. Watching the Ken Burns documentary brings back all of the horror, sorrow and pain of those years. It is so important everyone understands the true cost of war.