2 Replies Latest reply on Sep 17, 2021 1:13 PM by Peter Dunbar

    Seeking information about 1-A-O (Non-combatant Conscientious Objectors)

    Peter Dunbar Wayfarer

      There's a lot on History Hub about "alternative service" Conscientious Objectors (to military conscription) but none, that I can find, on 1-A-Os.  I was one of those 1-A-Os who was one of the last draftee during the Vietnam War.  A 1-A-O, to put it bluntly, says that they don't object to military service but they don't want to kill anyone.  Such a person applies to the draft board for conscientious objection, just like the alternate service types.  If the draft board approves the request your draft eligibility status changes to 1-A-O. This mans "ready to be inducted but assigned to non-combatant status."


      I have a couple of interests:

      1)  1-A-O is kind of a unique kind of a response to war.  Did I read there have been about 75,000 of these since the status was approved during WWI(?)  Anyway, we 1-A-Os are old and like the WWII vets we are dying off.   Our thoughts about war, how we found out of about 1-A-O, and how we were treated once drafted should be documented and stored for posterity.


      2)  From my research the military regulations for "non-combatant" are squishy.  Most of the the 1-A-Os are trained as medics; truck driver is another option.  However, I remember chatting with my company commander one day about these draftees.  He said, in Vietnam, some of his COs (conscientious objectors) would carry a couple of bandages and every weapon they could.  He added that on the other hand, some of his medics who were not bona fide COs would not carry a weapon.  I guess his message was that morals change in wartime.  At any rate, I would like to know if other medics had the same experience i.e. did they eventually carry weapons and, did medics without CO status refuse to carry one?


      I have no idea if History Hub is the right place to post this question but if not, if someone can steer me in the right direction I would be grateful!!  Thanks.