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Was Ted Nugent A Draft Dodger During The Vietnam War?

Music | September 23, 2019

Left: Ted Nugent in 1975. Right: a document showing Ted Nugent's draft history obtained by The Snoking Gun. Sources: GAB Archive/Redferns;

It's a fact that rocker Ted Nugent didn't serve in Vietnam -- but was he a draft-dodger? Like many people, Nugent was summoned for the draft but obtained deferments. Years ago, Nugent told an outlandish story about how he avoided serving in Vietnam; in recent years, he's claimed it was a big joke, and that his deferments were all legit.

In the late ‘70s, Nugent told a High Times reporter that he stayed out of the military by eschewing his notoriously healthy lifestyle to make himself so revolting that he grossed out his Army recruiter. Now, the guitarist who touts his love of God, guns, and girls claims that he didn’t dodge the draft and that he was just egging on the High Times reporter, but his military records seem to substantiate his earlier claims, so what’s the truth? Did Ted Nugent dodge the draft by defecating and urinating in his pants? Or did he just luck out?

Ted Nugent Was Too Busy Rocking To Go To War

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A Michigan boy through and through, Nugent was raised in a Detroit-based military family. While his father was a sergeant in the Army, he never felt the draw to serve. Rather than follow in his father’s footsteps, Nugent started playing guitar from a young age, and formed The Amboy Dukes in 1964 after moving to Chicago with his family. The band consistently performed for nearly 10 years, all the while the Vietnam War was raging. Nugent says that when he received his draft notice he was having too much fun to go to war. He told High Times

I got my notice to be in the draft. Do you think I was gonna lay down my guitar and go play army? Give me a break! I was busy doin’ it to it. I had a career Jack. If I was walkin’ around, hippying down, getting’ loaded and pickin’ my ass like your common curs, I’d say ‘Hey yeah, go in the army. Beats the poop out of scuffin’ around in the gutters.’ But I wasn’t a gutter dog. I was a hard workin’, motherf*ckin’ rock and roll musician.

His Plan To Gross Out The Draft Board Was Over The Top

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Rather than take the hit and join the Army, Nugent claims that he concocted a plan that would earn him a deferment and ensure that he was never considered for military service again. He chuffed off his clean living lifestyle in favor of eating like trash and getting loaded to destroy his body. He even told High Times that he snorted crystal meth to make sure he couldn’t sleep for days before the draft meeting. Nugent said:

I ceased cleansing my body. No more brushing my teeth, no more washing my hair, no baths, no soap, no water. Thirty days of debris build. I stopped shavin’ and I was 18, had a little scraggly beard, really looked like a hippie. I had long hair, and it started gettin’ kinky, matted up. Then two weeks before, I stopped eating any food with nutritional value. I just had chips, Pepsi, beer-stuff I never touched-buttered poop, little jars of Polish sausages, and I’d drink the syrup, I was this side of death, Then a week before, I stopped going to the bathroom. I did it in my pants. poop, piss the whole shot. My pants got crusted up.

Nugent Says He Never Dodged The Draft

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The Ted Nugent of today is a vocal supporter of the Republican Party, the military, and the NRA – it doesn’t exactly fit his persona to flaunt his status as a draft dodger. When podcast host Joe Rogan brought up Nugent’s brag about outsmarting the military in a 2018 interview, the guitarist claimed he’d been misquoted, and that statements about him defecating in his pants were lies. He told Rogan:

Wikipedia claims I got a 4-F. 4-F?! 4-F means you’re physically incapable. I’ve never been physically incapable of anything! They make this sh*t up. I made up the story for High Times magazine, you know, the great magazine of good information. Then it turned out that my drummer, KJ Knight - he’s actually admitted this and testified - that that’s what he did. We thought it was funnier than hell.

In a separate interview with a UK news source Nugent said that the whole story was fabricated:

You’ve got to realize that these interviewers would arrive with glazed eyes and I would make stories up. I never did crystal meth. And I never pooped my pants.

Nugent’s Military Record Shows Multiple Deferments 

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Nugent can say that he wasn’t given a 4-F all he wants, but when The Smoking Gun pulled his military records they found multiple deferments, one of them 4-F, although it’s not clear if he went to the lengths that he claims in his High Times interview. The records show that Nugent received a student deferment and received a draft rating of 1-A. They show that he later failed a draft physical on August 28, 1969. After failing his physical in ’69 he was assigned a rating of 1-Y which means that he was fit for the military but only in times of “war or national emergency.” In 1971 he was reclassified 4-F, establishing that he was unfit for military service due to “physical, mental, or moral standards.”

Nugent's Story Is Probably Embellished... Maybe

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Even though Nugent’s military records state in black and white that he was marked 4-F, seemingly substantiating his initial claims that he pulled a fast one on the military, they don’t go any further than saying he was unfit. There’s no explanation behind the military’s decision and while it looks like shenanigans were pulled there’s no real evidence of the lengths that the guitarist went to in order to stay out of Vietnam. Nugent is a notorious provocateur, and he very well may have made up the story he told High Times, or at the very least embellished the truth about what happened. The one thing that’s clear is that he didn’t serve in the military. 

Tags: Ted Nugent | The Draft | The Vietnam War

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Will Gwyn