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Vietnam Lotteries

A lottery drawing – the first since 1942 – was held on December 1, 1969, at Selective Service National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. This event determined the order of call for induction during calendar year 1970; that is, for registrants born between January 1, 1944, and December 31, 1950. Re-institution of the lottery was a change from the “draft the oldest man first” method, which had been the determining method for deciding order of call.

There were 366 blue plastic capsules containing birth dates placed in a large glass container and drawn by hand to assign order-of-call numbers to all men within the 18-26 age range specified in Selective Service law.

With radio, film, and TV coverage, the capsules were drawn from the container, opened, and the dates inside posted in order. The first capsule – drawn by Congressman Alexander Pirnie (R-NY) of the House Armed Services Committee – contained the date September 14, so all men born on September 14 in any year between 1944 and 1950 were assigned lottery number 1. The drawing continued until all days of the year had been paired with sequence numbers.

Lottery Drawings

Administrative processing number (APN) denotes the highest lottery numbers called for each table year. The APN (highest number) called for a physical was 215 for tables 1970 through 1976.

The last draft call was on December 7, 1972, and the authority to induct expired on June 30, 1973. The date of the last drawing for the lottery was on March 12, 1975. Registration with the Selective Service System was suspended on April 1, 1975, and registrant processing was suspended on January 27, 1976.

Registration was resumed in July 1980 for men born in 1960 and later, and is in effect to this present time. Men are required to register within 30 days of their 18th birthday.

Table Date of Drawing Applied to Year of Birth APN
1970 December 1, 1969 1944-1950 195
1971 July 1, 1970 1951 125
1972 August 5, 1971 1952 95
1973 February 2, 1972 1953 95
1974 March 8, 1973 1954 95
1975 March 20, 1974 1955 95
1976 March 12, 1975 1956 95

How to Read the Lottery Tables

Each table shows all the birth dates in a given year and the lottery numbers assigned to those dates. Read the tables like a multiplication table. At the top of the table are the months of the year. In the first column, on the far left, are the dates of the month. The numbers in the center represent lottery numbers.  Thus, the tabular format is set up to show the random selection sequence, by month and day.

The order of selection from among men born on the same date would be determined by the order in which the first letters of their last, first, and middle names were drawn. For example, for Mr. Robert Brown, the alphabetical random selection sequence number for “B” is 25 and “R” is 23.

Alphabetical Sequence Chart

1 J
2 G
3 D
4 X
5 N
6 O
7 Z
8 T
9 W
10 P
11 Q
12 Y
13 U
14 C
15 F
16 I
17 K
18 H
19 S
20 L
21 M
22 A
23 R
24 E
25 B
26 V