Military Law

More than 14,000 draft notices sent to men born in the 1800s


More than 14,000 men who have almost certainly been dead for years got interesting letters in the mail last week.

According to a story by the Associated Press, 14,000 draft notices were erroneously sent through the mail in Pennsylvania by the Selective Service System. The notices were sent out to men who were born between 1893 and 1897, informing them that failure to register for the military draft was “punishable by a fine and imprisonment.” The notices prompted widespread bewilderment and caused relatives of the men who received the letters to flood the agency with calls last week.

The Post reports that the agency traced the error to a recent transfer of more than 400,000 records from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to the Selective Service. A clerk working with the database failed to select a century and ended up with a list of names of men born between 1993 and 1997—as well as men born between 1893 and 1897.

“We made a mistake, a quite serious selection error,” PennDOT spokeswoman Jan McKnight said .

Selective Service, for its part, missed the error because Pennsylvania uses a two-digit code for birth year. “It’s never happened before,” spokesman Pat Schuback said. The agency posted an apology on its website on Thursday.

Chuck Huey of Kingston, Pennsylvania, told the Associated Press that he was shocked to receive the letter addressed to his late grandfather Bert Huey, a veteran of World War I who had died in 1995 at the age of 100. “We were just totally dumbfounded,” he said.

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