Army denies claim by family of dead soldier Insurance papers didn't go through

February 03, 1993|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

Army officials have denied responsibility for a $250,000 life insurance policy for a Glen Burnie soldier killed in Operation Desert Storm, saying they never received the necessary paperwork to have premiums deducted from the soldier's pay.

"They said it was my son's fault," Leona Randazzo, mother of Sgt. Ronald Randazzo, said yesterday. "It was my son's responsibility to see they were taking money out of that [pay]check."

Mrs. Randazzo received a letter last weekend notifying the family that an Army Inspector General's probe upheld earlier findings that the Army had never received the paperwork.

Sergeant Randazzo, a 1985 Glen Burnie High School graduate, was 24 when he was killed Feb. 20, 1991 in a skirmish at the Saudi Arabia-Iraq border. He was with the Army's Third Armored Division.

His family received $50,000 in Army death benefits and $100,000 from one insurance policy.

The three-page letter states that it was the soldier's responsibility to follow up on an Aug. 30, 1990 application for life insurance with the Military Benefit Association. The report says the Army does not know if Sergeant Randazzo failed to authorize the payroll deduction or if the Army simply never received the authorization.

Mrs. Randazzo says she has a copy of the authorization, found among her son's effects. But Army officials say the family has the original, proving it was never sent in as required.

The Inspector General's letter says Sergeant Randazzo had four months to make sure the premium was being deducted, but never questioned why the first payment -- which would have put the policy in force -- was not made.

"The responsibility for payment of the initial premium for the $250,000 term insurance policy rested with Sergeant Randazzo and not the Army," the letter says. "Evidence suggests that he failed to submit the allotment request."

Mrs. Randazzo, crying as she talked about her dead son yesterday, is furious over the Army's position.

"They were sure good at paperwork to keep him in the service and send him over there to get killed," she said.

Sergeant Randazzo was due for an honorable discharge when his tour of duty was extended because of the gulf war. He had planned to study law enforcement.

Because her son was in a war zone, Mrs. Randazzo said, he probably had other things on his mind.

"I hope those men can sleep at night," she said of Army officials.

The Randazzos have hired a lawyer to explore suing the military.

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