More Than 1,800 Vets’ Records Intentionally Destroyed Or Misfiled By 2 Clerks

The two employees of the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis County were both students. Lonnie Halkmon, who is 28 years old, was sentenced on Thursday to 40 hours of community service and two years probation. The other student employee, Stanley Engram, who is 21 years old, is going to be sentenced on Feb. 7. They both admitted on the destruction of government files and they both faced 6 month probation in prison, under federal sentencing rules.

Engram confessed the 241 military records were found somewhere in the woods, close to the center where they worked, on July 3, 2012. Information on the records included 300 names and Social Security numbers. He admitted that he took the records from the woods, abandoned them somewhere in the center and then threw them away at his house. Therefore, he plead guilty for destroying or purposely misfiling over 1,000 documents.

On Halkmon’s side we hear that at one point there was an incident at the center, followed by an audit of all records given to employees during 2011 and 2012. Between Dec. 7, 2011 and March 28, 2012, Halkmon was assigned more 1,200 files, of which 850 were reported missing.

While the audit was conducted on 41 employees, it looked like Halkmon was in the biggest trouble, since he had the highest error rate among them. Most of the employees had an error rate of 3 percent, while four other had disproportionate results.

It is still unknown how many records are missing in total and it is believed many of them might never be found again, due to the large number of records at the center. Halkmon, who had worked at the center since 2005, decided he should resign, before getting fired. The other 4 employees with high error rate were asked to do the same, the Stars and Stripes reports.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Nanette Baker, insisted that she couldn’t find an explanation for their behavior and that she hopes they understand the seriousness of the problem and what an impact it could have on all those people’s lives.

Neither Engram’s lawyer, nor the federal officials could be reached on Thursday for anymore details.

100 million documents dating from the 1800s are being held at the $115 million center, on Dunn Road, just east of Highway 367, since 2011. About 57 million are related to the military.

22 million records of military personnel were destroyed by a fire in 1973.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE