The Department of the Army has denied a request for a posthumous honorable discharge for Ronald Alley, an officer who was court-martialed in 1955 for collaborating with the Chinese who held him prisoner for three years during the Korean War.
The request was made by Alley's widow, Erna Alley, who traveled to Washington from her home in Maine last February to make an emotional appeal before the Army Board for Correction of Military Records. She said her husband, far from being disloyal, had fiercely loved the Army, which he joined when he was 17.
Alley was found guilty at his court-martial of charges that included leading pro-Communist peace parades and indoctrination sessions, writing a pro-Communist article for distribution to prisoners of war, expressing opinions that the U.S. government was an imperialistic government waging an imperialistic war in Korea, and giving the enemy such information as artillery secrets, the signaling codes used by POWs and the religious and political affiliations and home addresses of the POWs.
Mrs. Alley told the appeals board that even after the Army disgraced her husband with a dishonorable discharge and sentenced him to 10 years of hard labor, he still loved the Army and believed that it would someday do him justice. He died of a heart attack in 1978, obsessed until the end with his futile attempts to clear his name. Mrs. Alley was joined in her appeal by two former Korean War Army POWs, who testified that Alley had not only committed no crime during his captivity but had tried to ease the suffering of other soldiers.
The assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs affirmed the board's finding Monday.
The board concluded that the court-martial was free from legal error and there was no evidence Alley had not committed the offenses of which he was convicted. The board said it "empathizes with" Alley's family, "and while it appreciates their sincere efforts to exonerate him, it appears that [he], by his misconduct, was the cause of his family's difficulties" rather than the Army.
Mrs. Alley, at her home in Bar Harbor, Maine, said the decision, announced yesterday, left her "very hurt. I am sadder than I can say . . . Ronald has been unjustly disgraced by the Army he loved."