No, the United States military isn’t trying to build a force of centenarians.
It just seems that way after the Selective Service System mistakenly sent notices to more than 14,000 Pennsylvania men born between 1893 and 1897, ordering them to register for the nation’s military draft and warning that failure to do so is “punishable by a fine and imprisonment.”
The agency realized the error when it began receiving calls from bewildered relatives last week.
The glitch originated with the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles during an automated data transfer of nearly 400,000 records to the Selective Service. The records of males born between 1993 and 1997 were mixed with those of men born a century earlier, Selective Service spokesman Pat Schuback told The Associated Press on Thursday. The federal agency didn’t know it because the state uses a two-digit code to indicate year of birth.
“It’s never happened before,” he said.
The Selective Service identified 27,218 records of men born in the 1800s, and began mailing notices to them on June 30, Schuback said. The agency began receiving calls on July 3. By that time, it had sent 14,250 notices in error.
The men are almost certainly all dead, given that the youngest would be turning 117 this year. Families of those men who received the notices can simply ignore them, he said. Their files will be deactivated and they shouldn’t receive additional communications from the Selective Service.
“We regret the mistake,” he said.