Saturday, February 06, 2010

National Personnel Records Center and UFO Witnesses

In today’s world, not everything is as it seems. Not all that long ago, I ran a feature that suggested a witness claiming a long military background could produce no documents showing this, other than a couple that looked to be forgeries. When I requested his records from the National Personnel Records Center, part of the National Archives system in St Louis, they showed a short military history in the Army and nothing from the Air Force. In other words, the records that I received from them did not agree with what he was saying or with the four other documents that he had supplied.

So I decided to run a test. Using my mother-in-law’s name, I requested my records for my Air Force service from the same source. What I received from them was a surprise.

Let me point out here that I have, in my possession, literally, hundreds of documents from my military career. I have DD 214s from my service as an Army enlisted man, as a warrant officer, as a commissioned officer in the Air Force, and finally from my service in Iraq. I have copies of orders, I have commendations, I have OERs (one of which always brings a smile because it mentions that I had worked with the CIA, FBI and Special Forces). And, of course, I have the ID card supplied to retired members of the military that showed my rank at retirement. In other words, if there was nothing in St. Louis, I have backup documents.

What did I get back from St. Louis? A document so riddled with errors and mistakes, that it frightens me. Others who might request my records, to find out if I have been honest about my military service would have a field day. They could point to these errors as evidence that I have been less than candid.

This document, which says my branch of service was the Air Force (which would be correct for part of my career) also has my Army serial number on it. It gives my dates of service for the Air Force, that are actually my dates of service on active duty with the Army, my first service with the National Guard, and then the termination or discharge date which is the date I was commissioned in the Air Force. It notes my "Rank/Grade" as 1LT and provides nothing about any military education, shows that I have been awarded an Air Medal, a Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Republic of Vietnam Campagign (sic) Medal and oddly, the Air Force Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon.

Finally, they include a portion of what was known as the Form 2, which provides information on assignments and geographic locations... all of which related to my first active duty service... with the Army. It notes assignments as a helicopter pilot which means there should have been a note on the form showing that I had earned an Army Aviator’s Badge. It does, at least, confirm service in Vietnam and that I had been promoted to CW2, which means, at some point, I had been a warrant officer. I had not been commissioned until after the last date on this document.

I have tried to figure out how this got so messed up. I did request my Air Force service and this was what came back. It is a document that is useless in verifying anything. It tells me that the information supplied by the National Personnel Records Center, for verifying the claims of those who say they have military service are next to useless. Oh, it verifies my claims, but only part of them and then most of the information is inaccurate, twisted and warped.

I suspect part of the problem here is the Privacy Act of 1974 and today’s concerns with identity theft. What they are doing is designed to protect the individual, but what I don’t understand is how that information can be so twisted.

The moral of this little story is that we need to be careful as we move forward and make sure the facts are correct. We need to check other sources. For me, I found a picture of my flight school platoon on the Internet and there is a web site (a really nice one) that lists me as one of the pilots in the unit complete with a picture from 1969 and one from my service in Iraq (Standing under the Crossed Swords in downtown Baghdad). There are other ways to verify what I have said in the past, but the one source that everyone thought they could rely on turns out to be less than accurate.


Lance said...

Excellent story, Kevin.


BoyintheMachine said...

Mr. Randle,

This deeply worries me because my Grandmother's brother has not been able to get a headstone, and he died back in the 90's. My Grandmother doesn't want anybody to pay for one because she still holds onto the believe that eventually the military will realize that he did serve in the war (WWII).

Growing up, I heard tales of how the fire in the 70s destroyed a lot of Veteran records and the excuse was always given that this is what must have happened, because the military flat-out denied that he ever served.

I admit that I got to the point of believing that maybe he didn't serve, maybe he just ran away or something and made it up to avoid being labeled a coward. I don't know.

Now this blog has renewed my interest in finding out the truth. He was a great man and I always called him "Uncle" even though he was technically my Grandmother's brother.

Any advice on how to procede? My Grandmother just acts like she's going to get a letter one day advising that they were wrong. I seriously doubt such would happen and feel that it's going to take some action to get to the truth.


紅包 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
KRandle said...

Jason --

The fire in 1973 destroyed many files and affected mainly those who were Air Force (including Army Air Force) M - W, some Army records and others. Many of the records were, at least, partially reconstructed meaning they were able to access other government files such as the VA, draft boards and the like to find out who served and who didn't.

If he ever went to the VA, there should be something there. The Air Force has a personnel center in Denver that holds many records. Many veterans filed their discharge papers (DD 214) with the county courthouse because many states provide a veteran's exemption to property taxes (which means they get to reduce the tax bite by some percentage).

If he was an officer, there are official registries thatlist the names of all officers (the one for 1877 is interesting because it lists all the names of the officers killed at the Little Big Horn).

If you know the units to which he belonged, you can search the Morning Reports, which would show him name upon arrival at the unit and upon departure... if he was missing for any reason such as in the hospital, on leave, or detached for temporary service.

There are many internet databases that list the names of everyone who served in various branches and at various times... most now charge a fee for a search, but that might help as well.

And he should have had some documents... as I mentioned, I have hundreds that go back to my days as an enlisted soldier and basic training.

I find it hard to believe they denied it... maybe said they had no records? They may also be of help in an attempt to reconstruct his records.

Sarge said...

When I retired I requested a copy of my official file. It does show my active duty service with a degree of accuracy, but my Reserve time is lacking.
Many many vets do not ever review their records. If you have something you think should be there send it in with an error slip. Like the Retirement Points System, they just do not seem to understand or care. Until they need the system to get something.

Alfred Lehmberg said...

I'm reminded of the hack job perpetrated on Jesse Marcel Sr. by the late Robert Todd based on these same "inviolate" and "completely trustworthy official records" I exsposed a few years ago in UFO Magazine:


Gray Is The Word...

Major Jesse Marcel, principal made patsy at Roswell, is a clueless doof and blustering confabulator based on an "exhaustive" review of the "official record" by one Robert Todd? Crap-cakes.

I'll have the whole story, thank you. A single spurious swag concerning tortured interpretational stretches of "alleged" facts, reader, is not remotely enough to sway this writer. Especially true, friends and neighbors, when what Mr. Todd cow-floppingly propounded about Jesse Marcel is an "ostensible" officiality only. That's right, ostensible, only. That's not enough to secure my agreement, enlist my support, or command my respect. Eyes askance. Arms akimbo.

To wit: Robert Todd's presumptive, ungracious, and line-crossing attack on Jesse Marcel is without validity, lacks sentience, and is finally a non-progressive journalistic profanity. In other words? Robert Todd's men of straw, additionally, had feet of clay.

Contined at: