National Guard was key to avoiding Vietnam
I was taken back by the letter from George J. Pitonyak, “Veterans aren’t happy with players kneeling.” Pitonyak calls for a return of the draft and describes his struggle to avoid the last draft. If that draft had been such a good thing, why did he manipulate the system to get a pass on Vietnam through the National Guard?
Pitonyak states that Army pay was low and he had a good job lined up. Those seem like good reasons to not want to be drafted. Unfortunately, when it comes to Vietnam, my generation often suffers collective amnesia. At that time, very few reserve or National Guard units were called to serve in Vietnam. Getting into one of those units was a safe ticket. Going to a meeting once a month plus an annual two-week training session were better odds than ending up in the infantry in Vietnam.
Granted, there was a possibility of riot duty or being called up for an emergency in the Guard. But that was still a better than becoming an “11 Bravo” (the Army job number for infantry).
It is obvious Pitonyak was aware of that and acted on it. He secured his job and did not suffer from $88 a month. He was not alone. Many young men went to the National Guard or Reserves to avoid serving in Vietnam. R.H. (BOB) POWELL. GLEN ALLEN.