[Please scroll down for the update to this article.]
As you probably know by now, we (and others) noted Mr. Obama’s claim in his Memorial Day speech to have an uncle who liberated Auschwitz in WWII.
The Obama camp have since stated that Mr. Obama misspoke, and that he was talking about his grandmother’s brother “Charlie Payne.”
They say Mr. Payne served in the 89th Infantry Division which liberated the Ohrdruf concentration camp, which was a satellite of the Buchenwald prison network near Weimar, Germany.
In our efforts to fact this hitherto unmentioned fact about Mr. Obama’s ancestors, we contacted a site which purports to honor the 89th Infantry Division:
This website has been created to honor the service of the 89th Infantry Division during the Second World War. The 89th, known as the Rolling W, served with distinction during combat operations in Europe from March-May, 1945.
This website was created by 89th veteran Raymond E. Kitchell and his son Mark R. Kitchell. We are grateful to the contributions of histories, stories and pictures from numerous 89th Infantry veterans and their families, and from the 89th Infantry Division Society.
Granted this site is not the 89th Division’s official website. But other searches via the National Archives and the Kansas WWII veterans sites have yet to produce a Charles Payne who would have been at Buchenwald.
Moreover, this site claims to welcome queries about members of the 89th Division:
To the extent time and capacity exists, we will try to answer questions and/or direct inquiries to prime and knowledgeable sources where available and welcome comments and new inputs. We will add to the website content as time and resources permit.
Please send all emails to:
Webmaster, Raymond E. Kitchell
Co-Webmaster, Mark R. Kitchell
So in the interest of finding out the facts about Mr. Payne, I sent Mr. Kitchell and son the following email:
—– Original Message —–
From: Steve Gilbert
Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 6:14 AM
Subject: Any Record Of Charles W Payne?
As you may have heard by now, Barack Obama has claimed that his great uncle Charlie Payne was a member of the 89th Div that liberated Buchenwald.
According to records his full name is either Charles W Payne or Charles T Payne (most likely the former), and he was born in 1924 — and he is still alive today.
He most likely was from Kansas at the time of enlistment.
Do you have any record of this gentleman?
PS – If you go to my website, you will see that I was probably the first to note the error in Mr. Obama’s first claims about his “uncle.”
Obama Claims His Uncle Liberated Auschwitz | Sweetness & Light
And Mr. Kitchell’s helpful reply:
Please crawl back under the rock you came out from.
Raymond Kitchell, veteran 89th Inf Div
I have since been sent this followup email:
From: Mark Kitchell [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 10:47 AM
To: Steve Gilbert
Subject: Re: Any Record Of Charles W Payne?
I don’t claim to represent anyone. You are the one who came to my son and I asking for information.
Please spend ample time chasing down the lies fed to you by chickenhawks Bush & Co. Like 90% of this administration, they don’t have the foggiest idea what we went through or what we saw at Ohrdruf.
I wonder how many people who visit the 89th Infantry site and support Mr. Kitchell’s work realize his politics are those of Cindy Sheehan?
As noted in the comments below, S&L correspondent “Cigarskunk” has since emailed Mr. Kitchell and gotten a confirmation (of sorts) for Mr. Payne’s service in the 89th:
—– Original Message —–
Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 6:38 PM
Subject: Searching for Charles W Payne
In light of the recent controversy over the military service of Barrak Obama’s grandfather, Charles W Payne, I was hoping to contact you to get some kind of verification of his membership in the 89th.
I’ve checked the records of http://www.kshs.org/genealogis…..p;branch=N and they only list him as being in the Navy.
I would like to get a second source to confirm that Obama is still lying on this subject as my grandfathers, father and uncles all served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam and I don’t particularly care for politicians lying about the service of family members to further thier political agendas.
Thank you in advance!
Subject: Re: Searching for Charles W Payne
Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 18:52:48 +0200
You are the one who is lying. Mr. Payne served in the 89th Divison, 355th Infantry Regiment, Company K.
And indeed, Mr. Kitchell has now updated his website thusly:
Concerning the service of Mr. Charles Payne: C.T. Payne was a soldier in the 89th Infantry Division. He served in the 355th Infantry Regiment, Company K. The 355th Infantry Regiment was the unit to liberate Ohrdruf. Mr. Payne was there.
We are grateful to Mr. Kitchell for this information, however grudgingly given.
But it would seem that all Mr. Kitchell did was go to the listing on his site which we had already visited. And that only lists one C.T. Payne.
Mr. Kitchell has still not produced any evidence to substantiate that this Mr. Payne is actually Mr. Obama’s great uncle, such as a serial number.
And, as we have noted, in most genealogy charts he is listed as Charles W. Payne rather than as Charles T.
Of course it would also be helpful if the Obama camp would tell us his great uncle’s full name and date of birth and other such handy details.