Being Drafted in the event of War

From my Dad & Uncles (3) experiences during WW2- USMM’s were generally given blanket draft exemption as long as they were actively sailing and didn’t spend more than 30 days on the beach between ships. The FBI frequently came to a seaman’s home of record on the 28th day and were “reminded” to ship out…This happened to all four of my family members- they generally shipped out on the 28-29 day, except when they were UFFD from injuries sustained after they were torpedoed- in which case my Grandmother starting throwing things at them…

During the Vietnam war, at least two guys I know of (both two Deck Officers) that were drafted into the Army (One of them was one of the best guys I ever sailed with- the other one of the lousiest). The draft deferment for was applied for by getting a letter from the company and union stating that you were actively shipping out. The former didn’t know this. The latter was such a louse that the company “lost” his letter and he got drafted and was actually assigned to Army stevedoring in Saigon- where his former shipmates taunted the shit out of him.

Another family member was classified 1A- but was in Calhoun-MEBA, all he had to do was prove receipt of getting a license- and APPLY for a NR commission (which of course was more often than not turned down), also as I recall; he stated that USL easily gave the required letters to those that shipped with them for more than 4-6 months yearly.

So there you have it- different methods- but the result still the same-

A friend of mine’s son just finished Basic Training in the Army. He just got deployed to Poland…

My Grandad wasn’t drafted in WWII because he had already served 1919-1922 in the navy, by the time WWII rolled around he had a Chief Engineer’s license and was a port engineer for the VA state ferries. He was offered a commission as a LT in the CG Reserve and taught new CG engineers their trade. I guess he was more valuable as an instructor than out at sea.

His last issued license from 1976 is hung up next to my 2nd issued license (the last frame worthy one the CG issued to me). I would seriously pay extra to get my current license #5 in the old format.


Not to “any other group” but to any other branch of service as a whole.

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You can print them on the USCG website, for decorative/display use only it says.

I know, but it’s just not the same.

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You may enjoy a book I came across while down at the AMO school. The Authority to Sail by Commodore Robert Stanley Bates, one of my instructors a few years back. A good history of licenses and seaman’s papers.

Shit low resolution though.

Bay runners Grandads experience not unusual.

WW 2 Coast Guard frequently enlisted essential mariners as reserves. Example working pilots In the reserve meeting reserve obligations still operating as pilots. Objective not let the other services take personnel essential to port operations. Step above declaring the jobs essential remaining civilian. Depending on the situation they could be activated and many were.

Number of landing craft Coxswain’s were reservist enlisted from working mariners with small boat experience. Not exactly a safe billet. Same with the 83 footers used as harbor patrol & amphibious landing rescue boats. Many of the OIC’s off Tugs and fishing boats.

I knew a Chief Boatswain mate that was enlisted as a Chief when the CG took over his Trawler early in the war. Stayed in the reserve as a Chief 30 years never promoted started and finished same rank. His later civilian occupation boat operator Corps of Engineers.

This isn’t correct. The commercial MM was not draft deferable during Viet Nam. The only way to keep from being drafted was to go with MSC, because they are Defense Department.
That is how I did it back in 1972. I ended up as a Junior Engineer on the last troop ship, USNS Upsur. Back in the old days troop ships were called transport ships by the Navy. We haven’t had any troop ships in 50 years (I shut down the engine room on the last one). What are these transport ships being refered to earlier in this thread?


Upshur became the Maine Maritime training ship State of Maine until 1995. Scrapped in 2011.

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Yes, that is correct. We brought the Upshur back to Oakland in 1973. She had been out on the China Coast for 7 years, as I was told.
One of the Maine Maritime instructors flew to Oakland to ride the ship around through Panama and up to Boston. I recall showing him around in the lower engine room. Once in drydock, we said goodbye to the last troop ship.