|Status||USA %||USMC %||USN %||USAF %||Vol'teer||16374 (48.8)||12784 (91.9)||1764 (91.6)||808 (89.1)||Drafted||16964 (50.5)||683 (4.9)||--||--||Reserve||69 (.2)||406 (2.9)||148 (7.6)||1 (0.1)||NatlGuard||68 (.2)||--||--||1 (0.1)||Unknown||69 (.2)||25 (0.1)||13 (0.6)||96 (10.5)|
It may come as a surprise to some that 63.3% of all V'nam enlisted casualties were volunteer. If ofcrs are added then almost 70% of those who died in V'nam were volunteers. Of course, the Marine, Navy & Air Corps enlisted personnel were, with the exception of a small percentage of USMC, all volunteer & as it turned out almost 50% of Army enlisted casualties were also volunteer.
The draft policy at the time of the V'nam War was called the Universal Mili Training & Service Act. Since its adoption in 1951 at the time of the Korean War, it had been renewed by Congress every 4 years. It called for the registration of all 18-26 year old males with induction to take place at 18 1/2 if so ordered by the local draft board. The draftee, if found mentally & physically fit, would be inducted for a period of 2 years, to be followed by another 2 year period in the active reserves & a subsequent 2 years in the inactive reserves.
The draft was specifically designed to trigger volunteer enlistments before age 18 1/2 had been reached. Volunteers were allowed to enlist as early as age 17 (with parental consent) & were required to serve for 3 years on active duty followed by 3 years as inactive reservists.
But the volunteer prog looked promising to the potential draftee because it allowed him to select his branch of service & receive specialized training if he qualified. He was able to fulfill his mili obligation immediately & he would be required to serve only another 3 years in the inactive reserves.
It becomes clear then why almost 65% of enlisted casualties were volunteers & 1/3d of these were 17-19 years of age & over 2/3ds were 17 to 21.
Data and anaylsis compiled by William F. Abbott from figures obtained shortly after the construction of the Vietnam War Memorial