Rich Allan, an Army Veteran, spins a funny coming-of-age story (DRAFTED) about nineteen-year-old college student Eli J. Jones, who is illegally drafted in 1966, during the life-threatening era of Vietnam. Eli fights to prove his innocence but finds himself being pushed daily down a path to a place he doesn't want to go. Despite his mantra of “I’m not supposed to be here,” Eli adapts, making many new friends, such as Harry, Tex, Steve, the Professor, Sam and lovely Nurse Sara. They help Eli cope with Colonel Clark, the insane Battalion Commander (and Sara’s dad), as well as overcome Sergeant Wolinski, who threatens to “Kill Eli!” Eli’s adventures continue at Fort “Lost in the Woods” Missouri, and Infantry Officer Candidate school, where he meets up with TAC officer “Mad Dog” Drummond. Eli keeps his wits about him, while trying to survive everything from nude fire drills, a snake-charming stripper, and the Georgia swamps, to being buried alive by Le Huu Duc in a Vietnamese P.O.W. camp training. Eli never quits trying to make things right, even when Colonel Clark has his orders changed and sends him to war. Deep in the jungles of Vietnam, with the seven dwarfs beside him, Eli learns to face his problems, beat death, save his best friend from drowning, and ends up a hero. After receiving a bronze star and purple heart at a Bob Hope Christmas show, his buddy Tex comes through and gets his local draft board busted. Now faced with the choice of getting out immediately or finishing his tour, Eli takes the responsible route and is assigned to Armed Forces Radio in Saigon—just prior to the Tet offensive. Once again Eli has to fight to survive, save his friends, and earn the right to go home.
Reviewed by Paul Johnson for Readers' Favorite -- FIVE STARS!
Nineteen-year-old Eli J. Jones is attending college and has two jobs that he loves; he's a lifeguard and a disc jockey. Suddenly his world changes in a flash, as he is illegally drafted into the U.S. Army by an old Vet named Weird Willie and local draft board number thirteen. Eli makes several attempts to avoid conscription but to no avail. In mere days he is pulled out of his carefree, small-town life and is plunged into a strange new world, the U.S. Army during the life-threatening era of Vietnam.
Eli's misadventures start with Basic Combat Training, then Advanced Individual Training through Officer Candidate School, then to Communications School. All the time he continues to tell anyone who will listen that he should not be there. Finally, he's off to Vietnam where he's assigned as an Infantry Platoon Leader, and the adventures become downright deadly. Can this draftee make it out unscathed? Or will his fate be the same as so many others who were drafted?
Once I got past every old cliché I'd ever heard or seen on TV about the Army, I realized this was a well-written story. It has great characterization, a little over the top sometimes, but great nevertheless. The reader can't help but laugh at the exploits of Eli and his friends, cronies, and yes, enemies. The plot was pretty simple; we've seen and heard it many times, but that didn't detract from the quality of the writing. Veterans of that era will enjoy this tale as they relive some of their own memories of a different time in a very dangerous world. Very well done.
From the Author
My first novel is semi-autobiographical in nature and everyone who has read it always wants to know which of the characters you meet in the story are real and which are fictional. I can tell you some are based directly on one real person, some are a combination of people I have met, and some are totally fictional. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. I did serve in the US Army for real from 1968-1971 during the Vietnam War era. I did attend basic training in Fort Dix New Jersey, AIT in Fort Leonard, Missouri and Infantry Officer Training School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Three fellow candidates died during my OCS training and there was a Congressional investigation after it happened. I also trained with South Vietnamese officers...and yes, we did have a naked fire drill, crawl through the mud in Rusty's pit, elect a stripper Miss Tiger Tactics and put together a battalion swim meet. Local Draft Board 13, the source of DRAFTED, really existed and did appear in Life Magazine as the worst draft board in all of the USA. Enjoy a little hysterical 60's history with DRAFTED!