A glitch in the Selective Service System caused the U.S. to mistakenly send more than 14,000 Pennsylvania men draft notices. The bizarre thing about the occurrence is that the notices were sent to men born in the 1800s.
According to ABC News, the problem started with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation when it transferred almost 400,000 records to the Selective Service. A clerk working with the state’s database forgot to select the century, producing records for males born between 1883 and 1887 along with the ones from the correct century.
“We made a mistake, a quite serious selection error,” said PennDot spokeswoman Jan McKnight.
The notices ordered the men to register for the nation’s military draft and warned that failing to do so is “punishable by a fine and imprisonment.”
Fox News reported that the agency realized the error when it began receiving calls from bewildered relatives last week.
Chuck Huey, 73, of Kingston, said he got a notice addressed to his late grandfather Bert Huey, a World War I veteran. Bert was born in 1894 and died in 1995 at age 100.
“I said, ‘Geez, what the hell is this about?’ It said he was subject to heavy fines and imprisonment if he didn’t sign up for the draft board,” Huey said. “We were just totally dumbfounded.”
Huey attempted to call the Selective Service but became frustrated when he could not get a live person on the phone.
“You just never know. You don’t want to mess around with the federal government,” he said.
The mistake was not initially caught because the state used a two-digit code to indicate year of birth, said spokesman Pat Schuback. After the agency had already sent 14,250 notices in error, they began to receive calls from family members.
“It’s never happened before,” Schuback said.
All the men are most likely dead since the youngest of the group would be turning 117 this year. Schuback said that the families who receive notices should just ignore them. They will not be receiving additional communications from the Selective Service as the files in error will be deactivated. The agency posted a notice on its website, as well as an apology.
PennDot said it has taken steps to ensure this type of mistake won’t happen again. “We’re really sorry,” McNight said. “We apologize.”