A bogus Air Force major under investigation for spiriting weapons away from Fort Meade last month has been a regular visitor in recent years to Andrews Air Force Base, home to Air Force One and other sensitive equipment, according to base employees.
The man, District resident Jeffrey A. Klotz, 35, would frequently show up at Andrews dressed as an Air Force major and ride around in firetrucks assigned to protect the presidential plane and other aircraft at the Maryland base, according to Harry Shughart, an Andrews firefighter.
"We deal with Air Force One and all the aircraft, and he was out there on the trucks with us," Shughart said in an interview yesterday. During his visits to Andrews, Klotz would often sleep in the base fire station, Shughart said.
"The management, as far as I know, never questioned it," said Shughart, who represents the firefighters union.
Klotz would report to Andrews several times a year for one- to two-week periods to perform what he said was his reserve duty, Shughart said. Klotz paid an extended visit in May, when the base had its annual Department of Defense Open House, according to Shughart. "During the air show, he was there the whole time," he said.
Shughart said he did not recall seeing Klotz on board Air Force One but could not rule it out. "I don't know if he went on Air Force One, but the question's there," he said. "Why is this guy coming on base with false documents?"
"He gave me the full impression that he was a major in the reserve, getting training," said Chester Lanehart, a retired Andrews firefighter and current president of the firefighters union. "I assumed he was valid because he sure looked valid."
"The general ain't going to like this," Lanehart added, referring to the commander of Andrews, Brig. Gen. James A. Hawkins.
A spokeswoman for Andrews said she had no information on whether Klotz had access to the base or whether there were security violations. "All of his actions are under investigation," said the spokeswoman, Lt. Carolyn McPartlin.
Last month, Klotz went to Fort Meade, where he withdrew 30 M-16 rifles and 10 M-9 pistols, along with two Chevrolet Blazers, officials said. Then he drove to Fort Indiantown Gap, a military installation in central Pennsylvania.
There, he withdrew thousands of rounds of ammunition and was placed in charge of a rifle range for two days, officials said. He used the Fort Meade weapons to teach riflery to 109 Civil Air Patrol cadets ages 12 to 18, they said.
Klotz faces charges in Pennsylvania.
In addition, both the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Army Criminal Investigation Command have launched probes of Klotz's activities, and the results will be turned over to the U.S. attorney's office in Harrisburg, Pa.
The Air Force "is looking at how he got bogus credentials to pull this off," said Capt. Mike Richmond, a spokesman for the Office of Special Investigations, which is based at Andrews. "The Army is looking at the whole weapons checkout."
An Army officer familiar with the case said Klotz acquired weapons from a Fort Meade Army Reserve unit by presenting a letter saying the guns were needed for his "unit" at Andrews. There was no letterhead on the request. "It was not professionally written and had many typographical errors," said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "It should have raised a red flag."
An Army Reserve sergeant at Fort Meade was responsible for issuing both the Blazers and the guns to Klotz, the officer said. "She claimed to have known him for 11 years, and he had always presented himself as an Air Force officer," the officer said.
Klotz was accompanied by someone--apparently not in uniform--who drove away with the second Blazer, the officer said.
Before traveling to Pennsylvania, Klotz telephoned Andrews looking for airmen to accompany him to the Civil Air Patrol's annual summer encampment, according to Shughart.
"He was looking for some people to go up to help him with the Civil Air Patrol and to help them train them," Shughart said. "He talked about having a plane come down to pick people up."
No one took him up on the offer, Shughart said.
Klotz, who is not in custody, could not be reached for comment, but he told the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., on Thursday that he could not discuss the matter.
Klotz's father, Jerry Klotz, said his son fell in love with the Air Force as a boy growing up in Somerset, Pa. "He really wanted in the Air Force bad," Jerry Klotz said in a telephone interview yesterday from his home in Somerset. "He was really tickled that he got there."
Jeffrey Klotz picked up his fascination with the Air Force through years of being involved with the Civil Air Patrol, which is an auxiliary of the Air Force, his father said.
Jeffrey Klotz told Air Force investigators that he had been discharged from basic training in 1986 because of bad knees, according to court papers cited by the Patriot-News.