HARRISBURG Pa. (Reuters) - Jane Huey was surprised, to say the least, when a letter arrived at her Kingston, Pennsylvania, home urging Bert Huey to register to be drafted into the U.S. military.
Bert Huey had already served in World War One, which began 100 years ago this summer, and died in 1995. He was her husband’s grandfather.
“It is funny and kind of pathetic,” she said. “And the other thing is, we couldn’t get a hold of the darn draft board. We were afraid we’d be fined or something.”
The names of Bert Huey and more than 14,000 other Pennsylvania men born from 1893 to 1897 came up because of a computer coding error by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which shares information from driver’s license and vehicle registrations with Selective Service. That agency keeps track of men aged 18 to 25 and drafts men into service at times of war when a draft is ordered.
“We made a mistake,” said Jan McKnight, a community relations coordinator for PennDOT. “This just wasn’t good. We do apologize.”
She said the mistake occurred when a computer operator entered “93-97” instead of “1993-1997.” So the computer spewed out the names of all males in its database born from 1893 to 1897 and from 1993 to 1997.
Pat Schuback, a spokesman for Selective Service, said the agency sent out 57,787 registration notices in June. Among those, reminders went out to the last known addresses of more than 14,200 Pennsylvania males born from 1893 to 1897.
“This has never happened before, and I’d bet money that it will never happen again,” Schuback said.
Jane Huey said her husband’s grandfather was a proud veteran.
“He probably would have served again,” she said.
Editing by Scott Malone and Peter Cooney