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From the Archives: A 1977 induction into the volunteer Army

A 1977 induction ceremony for Army volunteers at the Armed Forces Building on Wilshire Boulevard
Oct. 12, 1977: An induction ceremony for volunteers into the U.S. Army at the Armed Forces Building on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. After the draft ended in 1973, about 200,000 volunteers joined each year.
(George Rose / Los Angeles Times)

After the end of the Vietnam War, conscription into the U.S. military ended. In 1973, the armed forces raised salaries and began recruiting volunteers.

This photo by staff photographer George Rose accompanied an article by staff writer Barry Siegel in the Oct. 23, 1977, Los Angeles Times. Siegel wrote:

The scene is a cocktail lounge at LAX. Two 18-year-olds, their hair clipped close to their scalps, their black shoes shined to a gloss, their uniforms freshly pressed, nervously drink beers and swap second-hand stories about Army training. They are about to report for duty.

“My brother told me it’s going to be hell. Are we in for it. Might as well live it up now. This is it.”

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“I hear you have to march for 12 hours straight.”

“Forty-five minutes to get drunk.”

The scene is timeless, the classic conversation of unwilling draftees, except for the fact that there is no draft today. The only way to join the military in 1977 is to volunteer. The two young men at the bar have chosen to enter an organization that thousands of others fought bitterly to avoid just five years ago.

Since the volunteer army was formed in 1973, some 200,000 people a year have made the same choice. ...

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Currently, all male U.S. citizens and noncitizens living in the United States must register for the Selective Service within 30 days of their 18th birthday.

This post originally was published April 8, 2015.


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