Veteran Claims He Never Went AWOL

A veteran of the Second World War claims that, contrary to war records, he never went AWOL during the war.

Veteran Thomas Smith Jr., a veteran of the Second World War, never went AWOL. At least, that is what he claims. He is strongly fighting to have this term stricken from his record, as he is currently ninety years of age and does not want to pass away with the record of a deserter. His claim is that a soldier with the same first and last name may have gone AWOL, and his record was falsely changed as a result.

Smith certainly has the record of a dedicated soldier. He received two Purple Hearts due to wounds he received in battle, including a wound in his back. As a Marine, Smith acted as both a rifleman as well as a scout. He was definitely not AWOL during some of the bloodiest battles of the war, in which he took part. These include the battles waged on the Marshall Islands and at Iwo Jima. Unfortunately, the wounds he suffered at battle may be the cause of the record he is fighting to change.

When Smith’s back was wounded during the fighting on the Marshall Islands, he was temporarily taken out of the fray and treated until better. While writing his memoirs a few years ago, he discovered he was listed as AWOL during this period. The document claiming that he was away without leave was signed, though not quite in his name. The first and last names were the same as his, but the middle name was different, the News 92 FM reports.

Trying to get the record changed has taken a great deal of time, and Smith has still not been successful. Just about every office he has managed to contact has referred him to someone else. Currently, Smith’s record still says his went AWOL for a month during the war, but he has gone so far as to contact Barack Obama’s administration. He has grown weary of dealing with a bureaucratically complex system that has gotten him nowhere as of yet.

Smith’s attempts to prove he never went AWOL both began and ended at the National Personnel Records Center, and it was the feeling of going in circles that prompted him to go over their heads. Smith feels that it should be much easier to solve problems such as his, and is astounded that it has been such a hassle. He hopes that he can get his record corrected soon, as he does not want to pass away with a record stating he was AWOL during one of the most important wars in history.

Ian Harvey

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