Computer bug sends army draft notices to 14,000 centenarians
Thousands of United States centenarians have accidentally been called up to fight for their country, after a computer glitch resulted in draft notices being sent to more than 14,000 Pennsylvania men born between 1893 and 1897.
The notices ordered recipients to register for the draft, and warned that failure to do so was "punishable by a fine and imprisonment".
The error only came to light after the Selective Service System, which maintains military draft rolls for the nation, 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 who was born in 1894 and died in 1995 at age 100. "We were just totally dumbfounded," he said.
The glitch, which was a form of the infamous Y2K bug, originated within the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation during a transfer of nearly 400,000 records to the Selective Service.
It came about because of the Transport Department's practice of abbreviating four-digit years to two digits. This resulted in the records of males born between 1993 and 1997 being mixed up with those of men born a century earlier.
"We made a mistake, a quite serious selection error," said PennDOT spokeswoman Jan McKnight.
Selective Service spokesman Pat Schuback said that families of those men who received the notices can simply ignore them. Their files will be deactivated and they should not receive additional communications.
"Selective Service regrets any inconvenience caused the families of these men and assures them that the error has been corrected and no action is required on their part," the agency said in a notice on its website.