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I request Carl Bonde’s military personnel file, exactly as written

February 22, 2013

Daniel R. Struckman

215 Burlington Avenue

Billings, MT 59101

 

August 14, 2011

 

The Honorable Max Baucus

United States Senate

Washington DC 20510

 

Dear Senator Baucus,

 

            Please help me obtain the complete US Army Personnel File for my maternal Uncle, PFC Carl Ralph Bonde, Jr, service number 39616683, killed in action December 24, 1944.  My request to obtain the entire document from the National Personnel Records Center in Saint Louis, MO, was denied because they say I am not his next-of-kin.

 

            However, I am his sole surviving next of kin and I am entitled to this document.  Carl Ralph Bonde Jr. never married and had no children.  All in his immediate family have died after him.  His father died in 1958 and his mother died in 1967.  He had only 4 sisters and no brothers.  All 4 of his sisters have died, including my mother, who died in 1976. 

 

            My uncle Carl was killed aboard the troopship SS Leopoldville Christmas eve, 1944, when a U-boat torpedoed his ship.  The Army classified the incident secret for many years.  My grandparents and aunts were never told any details of the fate of their 21-year-old soldier, whose body was never recovered.  I find it ironic that the Army bureaucracy continues to block access to information about the SS Leopoldville even 70 years later by frustrating my attempts to recover my beloved uncle’s personnel file.

 

            I am writing a book about my uncle, and I have been working 5 years.  I went to his Army reunion in Florida, met with his section leader in Nebraska twice, and even traveled to France where I hired a boat to take my wife and me out on the English Channel near Cherbourg to place a wreath on the water over the wreckage of the SS Leopoldville.  Unfortunately, I have very little information about Uncle Carl, other than his high school yearbook and several photographs.  I did meet two elderly veterans, survivors of the sinking, who remembered him.

 

            Here is what I did to try to recover the file:  In the Spring of 2010 I mailed a form asking for the file.  I checked the priority box “routine.”  in October I got a reply:  this was a letter with my request number 1-7521726574 and a form advising me to send $20 to cover the cost of photocopying and mailing the records.  I did as instructed.  Then, one 3 weeks later,  I received the one page form that told his date of enlistment and the date of his death and his next of kin, along with a letter inviting questions.  I am enclosing copies of the letters and the one page.  Of course I did have questions!  I wondered why I had not gotten the military record I paid for!

 

            I phoned the number on the more recent letter and spoke to a young lady in St Louis who told me flatly that I might not view my Uncle’s record.  I asked if I might appeal her decision and she told me no.  She told me I could reapply for the record, but the result would be the same.

 

            Please, Senator Baucus, help me obtain my Uncle’s file.  I am enclosing 2 copies of the Privacy Act Release and the supporting documentation for my efforts so far.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

 

 

 

Daniel Robert Struckman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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