Published Feb 7, 2009
by Can Tran
Of all of the current active United States servicemen and
servicewomen, there is only one person still on active duty who is a
draftee. He is considered America's Last Draftee.
During the first several wars of the twentieth century, many
Americans were drafted into all branches of the United States
Military. During the Vietnam War, there were many protests in
opposition to the war. Many protests were on the domestic front. The
issue of the draft was one of the major issues in regards to the
Vietnam War. The draft was one of the major driving issues of the Vietnam War.
But this is not really about the Vietnam War; this is more about the
draft for the United States Military. Just about all of the draftees
are out of the United States Military. However, it is all but one.
In the case of Jeffrey Mellinger, he is the last and only draftee to
still serve actively in the United States Military. Mellinger was
drafted into the United States Army in 1972 during the Richard Nixon
Mellinger calls himself a relic. Out of almost two million men
drafted to serve in the military to fight in the Vietnam War,
Mellinger is the only one to still be in service. He was about
nineteen years old at the time. Now, Mellinger is at the age of fifty-five.
"Most of them are surprised that I'm still breathing, because in
their minds I'm older than dirt," Mellinger explained. He adds that
he can still move pretty fast.
After being drafted, Mellinger wanted out. He would be deployed to
West Germany during his two years in service. This was when Germany
was split into West Germany and East Germany. East Germany was under
control by the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union collapsed, both
countries were unified back into Germany. The Berlin Wall was
shattered as a result.
During his first years in the Army, Mellinger explains there were
problems going on in regards to leadership and other subjects.
Mellinger was planning and willing to get out once his time was up.
However, he was talked into reenlisting. What was the incentive?
Mellinger would be able to join the Army Rangers. As a result,
Mellinger reenlisted and would join the Army Rangers. Today,
Mellinger is happy about his choice.
Mellinger travelled around the world as a result. He was even
deployed to Iraq for thirty-three months. One could say that
Mellinger is solid as a rock. Mellinger got attacked a lot during that tour.
Army General David Petraeus, the current leader of US Central Command
had many good things to say about Mellinger. Petraeus admits that he
has lost count at how many times Mellinger's convoy was attacked.
Regardless of the number of attacks, Mellinger is still alive and
kicking. It does not look like Mellinger is not going down any time
soon. Should that ever be the case, one can count on him fighting to
the very end.
Mellinger admits that he did try to enlist earlier before getting
drafted but was turned down.
Despite being the only draftee that is still serving actively,
Mellinger is not too keen on the draft itself. In his words,
Mellinger said that the draft should not be brought forward unless
the situation is very dire. Still, Mellinger takes pride in being
both a soldier and the draftee.
In this respect, Mellinger is considered a relic. But, there is the
suggestion Mellinger could retire next year. If and when that
happens, the final draftee will have left the United States Army. As
a result, the military will be a definite all-volunteer force. In
regards to retiring, his wife is very skeptical.
Will Mellinger retire next year or not? We will have to wait and see.
So far, it does not look like his wife is going to jump to
conclusions. In this respect, Mellinger is considered to be the "last
of his kind."