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Vietnam War Casualties
by Volunteer or Drafted, Enlisted

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V'nam Casualties By Volunteer or Drafted, Enlisted

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

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