A Minnesota PBS Initiative

My regrets about my service...

1968 was the height of the Vietnam war. I was twenty years old, a sophomore in college, and worried that I would lose my college draft deferment due to failing one class and dropping a couple of others due to an eye illness.

I did not buy the "domino theory" that the government was throwing at us and I certainly did not feel that the United States of America was at risk. If I did, I'd have joined the military. To eliminate my fear of being drafted, I joined my local Army Reserve unit. (Google Champagne Unit - Vietnam) I received my honorable discharge after six years of Reserve meetings (16 hours per month) and two weeks of "camp" every summer.

I was one of three brothers: one was in the Reserve unit with me; one would have fled to Canada if he'd been drafted; the third served eleven months in Vietnam as a 1st lieutenant, Marine helicopter pilot (twin rotor, CH46). He and his crew all died on January 26, 1969.

Okay--here is my regret and this is what I want today's draft-age Americans to consider. I took the easy way out. I should have stood up against a war that I knew was wrong. I should have waited to be drafted and then refused induction into the service.

A young man standing in front of CH47, wearing a jumpsuit and a cap.

1 LT. John Franklin Meyer, age 26.

By doing that I would have formally logged my opposition to the war (and suffered the consequences.) Instead, I slipped through the crack allowed to predominantly educated white guys. Military induction has been controversial for decades. I am on the side of those who believe there is a flaw in our leadership when a war is so unpopular that it must enslave citizens to fight it.

Biographical Details

Story Subject: Civilian

Story Themes: 1969, Army Reserves, Burnsville, Death and Loss, Family, Jerry Meyer, John Meyer, Memorial, Read, Regret

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