Home The Story The Book About
This Site
Sponsored by
Green Harbor Publications

The Freedom of Information Act
I am curious to know if anyone has had a similar experience to the one I had looking for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents. I decided to find the burial records for the men in Capt. Adams' plane. I got the idea from the book "Wings of Morning" by Thomas Childers. Childers had written away for the burial records of the crew of his uncle's plane. I found his e-mail address through Penn State and sent him a note asking how he had gotten the burial records. He said that they had come from The Army Bureau of Mortuary Affairs in Washington, D.C. and that though he had no phone number or address, I would be able to find a listing in the phone book. No such luck.
I spent some time writing to the army and eventually found that the records were part of the National Archives. Once I found that out, things accelerated. It took several letters to get to the right contact. In this portion of the correspondence, I got timely responses, usually pointing me to another person in the chain. Finally I got a letter saying that if I would promise to pay about $120 to $150, then they would do the work. The letter was very oddly worded. I didn't think they wanted me to send them a check, but it really wasn't clear what they wanted. I sent them back a letter with a solemn promise that I would pay when the time came.
Three months passed. I had come to expect long waits in my dealings with the government, but the delay made me reconsider whether I had misunderstood the wording in the earlier letter. After all, in the other cases they had responded quite quickly. So I wrote another letter. In response I received a badly photocopied form letter which in essence stated, "it could take anywhere from 4 to 12 months, writing to us again will only slow us down, writing to your congressman will slow us down even more". What a peculiar little threat!
I eventually did get the records I was looking for. The system actually works fine, as long as you're not in a rush.
| Next: Addresses for Cronkite and Rooney |

Copyright 1996-2003, Jim Hamilton
Questions? Send an e-mail to jim@greenharbor.com