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Sat Jan 20, 2018, 12:41 PM

Woman earns honorable discharge 60 years after Air Force kicked her out for being gay

Source: The Hill

A Pennsylvania woman earned her honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force this week, more than 60 years after she was discharged as "undesirable" for being gay.

NPR reported Saturday that Helen Grace James, 90, a former airman 2nd Class, received her honorable discharge this week after decades of fighting the government for recognition.

James was investigated for homosexuality and subsequently discharged from the service in 1955 after investigators threatened to tell her family she was gay. She was told to sign a statement and was discharged as "undesirable," according to NPR.

"I'm still trying to process it," she told NBC. "It was both joy and shock. It was really true. It was really going to be an 'honorable discharge.'"

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/in-the-know/in-the-know/369909-woman-earns-honorable-discharge-60-years-after-being-kicked-out



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Reply Woman earns honorable discharge 60 years after Air Force kicked her out for being gay (Original post)
turbinetree Jan 2018 OP
rocktivity Jan 2018 #1
24601 Jan 2018 #6
rocktivity Jan 2018 #7
24601 Jan 2018 #9
usaf-vet Jan 2018 #2
sarge43 Jan 2018 #3
mahannah Jan 2018 #4
burrowowl Jan 2018 #5
FSogol Jan 2018 #8

Response to turbinetree (Original post)

Sat Jan 20, 2018, 12:56 PM

1. Does she have a little back pay coming?

Last edited Mon Jun 1, 2020, 04:28 PM - Edit history (7)

I saw a true crime show about a soldier on a weekend pass who was found stabbed to death -- and was given a dishonorable discharge for being AWOL! His family had a followup autopsy done, but time of death could not be determined. Bad news? Quite the opposite.

The family used the autopsy report to argue that since it was possible that the murder took place BEFORE the weekend pass ran out, the military HAD to presume that he was innocent of being AWOL. The soldier was given an honorable discharge with all the posthumous trimmings!



rocktivity

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Response to rocktivity (Reply #1)

Sun Jan 21, 2018, 12:29 PM

6. It will not affect pay. She was paid for each day of service and did not qualify for military

retirement based on either service or disability.

It changes her eligibility for veterans benefits. I'm including a link to a document that spells this out in good detail.

http://www.mcasiwakuni.marines.mil/Portals/112/Docs/sja/discharge%20list.pdf

In short, there are three punitive discharges for enlisted personnel (in order of severity):

Dishonorable (Only from a General Court Martial)
Bad Conduct (From a General Court Martial)
Bad Conduct (From a Special Court Martial)

(a Summary Court Martial cannot order a discharge)

For officers, cadets & midshipmen, there is only "Dismissal" from a General Court Martial and is substantively (but not exactly) equivalent to Dishonorable.


For enlisted and officers, there are also administrative discharges from worst to best:

Other than Honorable (normally included undesirable)
General under Honorable
Honorable

Additionally, individuals with less than 180 days of continuous active military service may receive an "Entry Level Separation" that has no characterization of service.

On the AWOL/murder case - probably this was very poor reporting as dead people do not face a court martial. What would have been done is a line-of-duty investigation. A soldier who is AWOL is not in the line of duty (NLOD) and this probably was to determine survivor death benefits. If you are NLOD and are injured, you may be held responsible for the cost of your medical care. AWOL is not the only reason for being not in the line of duty - but it is for decisions you make and not for involuntary conditions. A common NLOD is drunk driving, but if you were acting responsible and were unknowingly drugged, that would be in line of duty.

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Response to 24601 (Reply #6)

Sun Jan 21, 2018, 04:23 PM

7. Posts like this make me fall in love with DU all over again

You just never know when you'll be called upon to give "expert testimony" -- thanks! Or should that be "SIR! THANKS, SIR!"


rocktivity

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Response to rocktivity (Reply #7)

Thu Jan 25, 2018, 01:11 AM

9. You're welcome - but I took the uniform off years ago and these things seem like yesterday. I was

appointed to conduct two Summary Courts, both overseas. One was investigating the accidental death of a Chief Warrant Officer. It included a Line of Duty investigating and communicating with his family (in the States) on disposition of his property. The other was punitive where you end up as judge, trial counsel and defense attorney all in one. Add in a half dozen admin things like reports of survey or 15-6 investigations, and I suppose it makes sense I ended up as an IG for several years.

For the last 20+ years I've been in the civil service but am privileged to work alongside military personnel in a Joint Environment. The young Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and occasional Marines with which I work impress me every day. We are 7/24 ops Emergency Essential so holidays are just work days when our team is on. Our day shops brought in so much food we were pretty much force-fed. On Christmas & New Year's long weekends, two of the Brig Generals (1 Army & 1 Marine who are not 24-hr Ops) were in - not just to show the flag, but to participate substantively in mission ops.

I'm watching netflix all night to finish changing my sleep cycle - we start mids tomorrow night.

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Response to turbinetree (Original post)

Sat Jan 20, 2018, 01:43 PM

2. Congratulations "Airman 2nd Class" James



USAF Sgt 65-69

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Response to turbinetree (Original post)

Sat Jan 20, 2018, 01:52 PM

3. Good. All those discharges should be reviewed.

Back then troops could be discharged for "homosexual tendencies". Yup, that's how it read.

/on edit/ USAF 62-83, MSgt, NCOIC, Discharge/Reenlistment Section (for several years)

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Response to turbinetree (Original post)

Sat Jan 20, 2018, 01:54 PM

4. Sixty years??

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Response to turbinetree (Original post)

Sun Jan 21, 2018, 02:06 AM

5. It's about time

I salute her!

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Response to turbinetree (Original post)

Mon Jan 22, 2018, 11:22 AM

8. I heard her story on NPR. Great story. n/t

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