National Affairs: Brass's Brass

One day last week, officials at the Wilkins Air Force Depot in Shelby, Ohio set about the routine business of auctioning off $8,000,000 in surplus property. Included in the lot: 67 tons of obsolete marksmanship medals and parachutists' insignia listed by the Air Force brass as "brass." Bidding started at 5¢ a lb., and suddenly began to rise. Word was circulating through the crowd: instead of being brass, the medals were silver. In a flash, bids rose to $1.90 a lb., later soared to $4.* Next day, the Air Materiel Command blushingly admitted an "administrative error," canceled the silver sales under...

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