TOPEKA — More than 50 National Guard members who were deployed to Greensburg after a tornado wiped out most of the town are being asked to return some of their pay because of a bookkeeping glitch.
Combined, the 52 Guard members owe $9,100 they were overpaid for time they didn't work.
Sharon Watson, a spokeswoman for the Guard, on Tuesday called the glitch an "unfortunate error" that happened because McConnell Air Force Base had to process 700 to 800 orders in May. Normally McConnell wouldn't process any orders when there are no Guard members active in the state.
"We appreciate the hard work the men and women did in Greensburg, and we certainly didn't want this to happen," Watson said.
Guard members were sent to Greensburg to help with security, communications and providing shelter. More than $724,000 has been paid to troops for their work in the aftermath of the tornado.
Watson said some of the soldiers were replaced earlier than scheduled, but their pay orders weren't adjusted to reflect that.
The mistake affects 49 soldiers from the 190th Air Refueling Wing based at Forbes Field in Topeka and three from the 184th Air Refueling Wing at McConnell.
Watson said that when a soldier is deployed overseas, the system typically has weeks to process the paperwork. But in disaster situations such as the May 4 tornado that wiped out most of Greensburg, troops are sent in quickly -- and pay orders come almost as fast.
"We are working on streamlining the process for these types of deployments so we don't have this situation again," Watson said.
She said the Guard is working with the soldiers who can't repay everything at once.
"There's always the possibility that if you think you have more money, you'll spend it," she said.