Marriage, fatherhood, and the draft

One thing I’ve always wondered is when conscription took place in the U.S. is how the draft dealt with married men, especially those who had children. Was it ever common for married men with children to be drafted, and at what periods? If it wasn’t, were sham marriages ever a problem?

You had two realities going:

  1. What the (Federal) Selective Service said they were drafting
  2. Who the local Draft Board told to report

If your draft board was given a quota, they would fill it - even if the SS guidelines didn’t say to draft marrieds, if they were out of singles, they went after marrieds.

IIRC, there was a priority to the draft. The general talk was that Dick Cheney, for example, got 5 different draft deferments, four for being a student in college… and the last one:

Political needling aside, I’m sure it’s coincidence. It’s awful difficult to get pregnant exactly on schedule. But… there were exemptions available for certain categories.

"The Enrollment Act, enacted by the Thirty-seventh Congress in response to the need to swell the ranks of the Union army, subjected all males between the ages of twenty and forty-five to the draft. Men who were mentally or physically impaired, the only son of a widow, the son of infirm parents, or a widower with dependent children were exempt. "
“The Draft Act of 1863 was the first instance of compulsory service in the federal military services. All male citizens, as well as aliens who had declared their intention of becoming citizens, between 20 and 45 were at risk of being drafted. No married man could be drafted until all the unmarried had been taken.”

During WW II, they took everybody. Including my one-eyed uncle. (He was a crack hydromatic mechanic and they stationed him in Florida replaring tank transmissions, so it was not entirely unreasonable). During the late 40s and 50s they had quotas and drafted till they met them. I turned 18 in 1955 and got a student deferment until I finished grad school at 25 1/2. Your were eligible until age 26, unless you had accepted a deferment, in which case your eligibility extended to 35. But the Army (I think the Navy and Air Force didn’t need conscripts) didn’t want prople over 26. So I was eligible for a half year. But then I got a job teaching math and, while I never asked for a deferment, they never bothered me.

In the meantime Kennedy declared that marrieds-with-children should not be drafted. It was easy to have a sham marriage but few would be willing to go so far as to have sham children.:smiley:

This was in the very early days of Viet Nam (1962). Later on they might have gotten more desparate for cannon fodder.

There was a cut off date during Vietnam and I think it was 1965. If you were married prior to the cutoff date and had no other exemptions, you were classified2A). If you were married after the cut-off date, and had no other exemptions, you were cassfied IA and were eligible for the draft. If you had children after being IA, you could be classified 3A. I never heard of a 2A or 3A being drafted. There was a big catch, if you were grandfathered under the marriage cutoff and got divorced and had no dependents, you would be classified 1A and eligible for the draft. I knew a 35 year old guy that drafted with me.

I personally knew of a man who was an railroad engineer ( train driver ) in the Navy for 8 years.

The ARMY declared it a critical MOS in 1961 and drafted him. And made it stick. Even his Senator could not get him out.

Now I heard, no cite, at that time the reason was that being in the other services did not / could not keep the ARMY from drafting you under ‘critical MOS’ rules. Non of the other services could draft anybody in the same way the ARMY could. They could not all the way to the end of the draft.

Many guys who liked different services moved to another branch after their fist conscripted enlistment but I never have heard that any other branch ever drafted, through the ‘draft’ anyone.

It was not about that they didn’t need or want to, they could not do it.

Nor could they call for a critical MOS and recall a soldier who had completed his active enlistment in the ARMY.

This is how it was then, I have no cite, be fine if someone could prove that I am wrong by law but none of that matters to the guy I knew. I saw/lived this and knew of it by being there & with him at Ft. Lewis, WA in 1962.

Anyone know of anyone personally who was drafted ( as in the military draft as done in WWII, Korea and VM ) by any branch of the US Military from 1941 to the end of the draft?

The poor guy I know is the only one I know of personally. Or at all. Pretty rare occurrence I would think.

My father tells a story about being drafted.

In the 60s, he qualified for various deferments. He’d already had the student deferments through college and grad school. He got married, and had one child, before finishing grad school. He then had three more children in quick succession, and qualified for some sort of deferment because he was the sole support of a family, which included a wife, children and his widowed mother.

Nonetheless, one day he got a notice to report. He got drafted. He says he reported to wherever he was supposed to report, but went to some office or person to whom he could make a case that his being drafted was an error because he was entitled to, and had, a deferment. He says that he brought his children with him (I think there were three at that point) just to reinforce his argument.

I’m not sure if they took everyone. My mother-in-law told me that her husband, my father-in-law, tried to enlist despite having three kids. She said she thought he just wanted to get away from family responsibilities. He was turned down, although he was perfectly healthy, and I think she was still annoyed thirty years later.

My mom and dad married in the summer of 1941. When the U.S. entered the war, they were sure he would be drafted soon. But at first the draft excluded married men, so he didn’t get taken. Later this exclusion was eliminated unless the man had children. My older sister was born in April 1942. Eventually this exemption went away, too, and he was about to be drafted. However, he was working in a steel factory, and his employer requested an exemption from the draft for men working in this capacity, since one had to be quite able-bodied to do the heavy work involved.