Mrs. B.L. Durham, San Luis Obispo County Draft Board clerk, checks 109 draftees aboard a Greyhound special for their physicals in Los Angeles.
January 26, 1966Bring up the subject of a draft today and people will think you are talking about the NFL or trying to sell caulk.At the downtown bus station in San Luis Obispo you would get a different conversation in late 1960′s. The only person smiling in the photo is not being drafted.In 1966 the draft was something every man between 18-26 thought about it as the war in Viet Nam rapidly escalated.Troop levels were at roughly 184,000 at this point but by the end of 1968 there would be 537,000 Americans committed to the war.A potential draftee could change classification by getting married, having children or going to college but the story in the Telegram-Tribune said loopholes were being tightened up; childless married men were being called.The article suggested that it was getting harder to fill the needs of the armed forces. The headline read “109 county draftees leave; 158 scheduled”.As of that week draftees no longer were given the option of joining the National Guard or Reserve after being selected by their draft board.The draft board system was criticized for regional bias and uncertainty and was replaced in 1969 with a national draft. Popularity of the process did not improve.Bill Clinton, Dick Cheney and George W. Bush all avoided the war.In 1973 the U.S. military moved to an all-volunteer force.