Los Angeles Almanac Logo
Home | All Almanac Topics | Military

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 involuntarily drafted into service in the United States military, mostly into the Army. We estimate that about 63,000 of these men were from Los Angeles County. Because young men with means or influence often could find ways to avoid the draft (such as with college deferments), the vast majority of draftees were from poor or working-class families. During their two years of obligated service, draftees received pay equivalent today to about $680 per month, which was typically at least 40% less than what they might have otherwise earned as civilians. A good number of draftees, if not most, ended up being sent to fight in Vietnam, many in direct combat roles. Of the 1,877 U.S. servicemembers from Los Angeles County killed in Vietnam, 533 were draftees.