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The Draft During the Vietnam War
Los Angeles County

Draftees, Fort Jackson, South Carolina, Vietnam War, Army, 1967

Draftees arrive for military training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, 1967. Photo by Warren K. Leffler, U.S. News & World Report magazine photograph collection, Library of Congress.

From 1964 through 1973, the period of America's direct engagement in the Vietnam war, more than 1.8 million young Americans were drafted into service in the United States military, mostly into the Army. The Almanac estimates that about 63,000 were from Los Angeles County.

Young men with means or influence often could find ways to avoid the draft, such as through college deferments or letters from doctors, claiming physical limitations. The majority of draftees ended up coming from poor or working-class families who were not able to afford college or buy doctors.

During their two years of obligated military service, draftees received pay beginning at around $110 per month (equivalent to $990 in 2024). Combat pay added an additional $60 per month. Military pay was about 40% less than what they might otherwise have earned at minimum wage as civilians.

A good number of draftees ended up fighting in Vietnam, many in direct combat roles. Of the 1,877 U.S. servicemembers from Los Angeles County killed in action in Vietnam, 533 were draftees.