Skip to comments.Army's Last Draftee to Retire After 39 Years
Posted on 07/03/2011 8:53:37 AM PDT by Berlin_Freeper
FORT BELVOIR, Va. -- A homemade wind chime with the word "Whining" under a red slash is made from metal parts put in his leg after a parachute accident. Every Sunday he trims his crew cut. He didn't join the Army willingly, but as Command Sgt. Maj. Jeff Mellinger prepares to retire, he's grateful he found his calling.
Mellinger was drafted to fight the Vietnam War, and the Army believes he's the last draftee to retire, after 39 years. Most did their two years and left. But Mellinger had found home.
"I think I'm pretty good at it, but I like it. That's the bottom line. I love being a soldier and I love being around soldiers," he said.
Mellinger's motto is simple: No whining -- as the wind chime attests.
When the draft notice arrived in the mail in 1972 at his home in Eugene, Ore., tens of thousands of troops had been killed. Anti-war protests were rampant. Draft notices were being set on fire and returning soldiers were treated as part of the problem. The military wasn't a popular job.
The return address on the letter was the White House. Just 19, he was impressed that President Richard Nixon would write to him.
"I opened it up and it said, `Greetings from the president of the United States.' I said, `Wow, how's he know me?"' Mellinger said, laughing. "It was a form letter that said my friends and neighbors had selected me to represent them in the Armed Forces and I was hereby ordered to report for induction."
(Excerpt) Read more at foxnews.com ...
God Bless my dear Sir! Thank you for your service to the country!
I have mixed feelings about the draft. I do believe that COMPULSORY military service (or public service) helps ingrain citizenship in a person
I am much more conflicted about a military service that does not involve a direct threat to our homeland. Vietnam is very confusing. It was not a full war. We were hamstrung with self made rules. We did not launch a land war against North Vietnam to decimate them once and for all.
Instead we sent our young generations of men (and some women) there to get chopped up into small pieces because we did not have the cojones to fight a “fight to the finish” war.
Therefore, I do not support the draft for a war like Vietnam, where all you are going to be is fodder. OTOH, a war like WWII or Gulf War I, where you go in all guns blazing with an intention to WIN at all costs, I can support the draft.
I am too old for the draft now, but I have two kids coming up to the draft age son. Many a times I have to look hard in their eyes and imagine being back in the late 60s and wonder what fathers thought when draft notices came in for their kids
Just my 2 cents.
God Bless the Sergeant Major! When I was a cadet in the late 80’s, most of our cadre’s senior NCOs had been draftees who stuck around, kept the Army going through the Carter years, and turned out some really good young lieutenants. When I was a young LT at Fort Riley, our Battalion CSM had fought with the 1st ID in Viet Nam, and in Desert Storm. He was considered a dinosaur back then!
The Army tried to draft me after I had just been commissioned a Lieutenant of Marines. It was kinda fun writing a letter back to the Draft Board that I didn’t think the Commandant of the Marine Corps would take kindly to the Army trying to make one of his officers a Private.
I managed to get a slot in the USCG Reserves confirmed by Selective Service 1 hour before the 10 day window closed for alternate service.
I was in Boot Camp at Cape May when the draft and the Vietnam War ended, and marched in LBJ's funeral in DC since the only large contingent of Coasties who could march where in basic training.
In the fall of 1969 I was informed that my draft lottery number was “8”. Since I was ROTC that hardly mattered (never had a draft card but that’s another story). Flew UH-1’s in Vietnam, then in the Guard, later became an Army Reserve warrant officer and just retired in January. Sure glad I was around long enough to see soldiers and Marines being applauded in airports.
Congrats to the retiring CSM. Stayed in shape for sure.
JFK sent me that same letter when the commies built that wall around E. Berlin in 1961. Military service was not in my plan at the time but Army discipline was a positive force in my life and I look back on the experience with pride.
A true military draft isn’t really something that would go over well in this country.
A good alternative would be to eliminate, say, the junior year of public schooling and instead replace it with a less-intensive, but longer (full school year) version of basic. No service requirement, no deployments, nothing.. Just similar training. Be a lot more beneficial than their junior year, anyway.
Not exactly what freedom is all about, is it?
I beat the draft in 1965 I joined long before the notice came
CLASSY DUDE. I’m glad he goes out as a CSM, dedicating the bulk of his career to helping the enlisted MEN, rather than becoming an OFFICER (no offensive to officers though, they have a their job to do too). I’m sure there are many thousands of nameless enlistees that he’s touched.
So, from BobL and AMERICA, a big THANK YOU!!!
Wow...the media found a Vietnam vet who’s not crazy, delusional, drunk, who ran away to canada, having seizures, hates America, etc.
Seriously, thank you sir for your service to our country.
Kudos to the CSM;
the draft notification never stated ‘greetings from the president of the united states’
I still have mine.
“The President of the United States
Note there is no (s)
I still use this greeting on my phone message and it is surprising how many folks recognize it for what it represents.
And I have a current draft card; issued in 2009 as i serve on a local draft board