Interesting. I just took a closer look at her military records. Her Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, reports that she had 7 weeks of "Clerical Typing and Proc." - "7 weeks - 1969/NOTHING FOLLOWS". "Time lost before normal expiration of term of service: 956 days." "Time lost after normal expiration of term of service 19 August 1972: 3,903 days".
I would like to know where she was prior to those 7 weeks of clerical typing, why did her time expire on 08/19/72 and why did her discharge occur on 05/02/83.
Gloria would have first gone through about 8 to 12 weeks of Army "boot camp" which is the basic military training that all new recruits go through. That is where they learn military history, courtesy, traditions, orders, marching, and such. Upon graduation from boot camp, soldiers are sent on for specific schools or training in the Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) that they will be assigned to. This would have been the Clerical Typing and Procedures Classes that she attended.
As to WHERE her boot camp was and where her Clerical school was, that would be in her record, both in the orders section, and probably in other places. The Army had several large boot camps in 1969, but probably only one for women recruits. I will look into it and see if I can find out where that was.
Soldiers enlist for a specific time frame. Back in 1969, I believe that it was a three year enlistment for Army, while other branches usually had four year enlistments. There was a war in Viet Nam, and the draft (for men) was at its peak about that time. The date of her enlistment would have determined when her EAOS (end of obligated service) was.
When a service member goes AWOL or UA, the time that they are missing does not count as "good time" toward that enlistment. So the letter that you refer to means that she "lost" 956 days of her enlistment time by being absent or missing. Because they decided to give her a discharge and take her off the books in 1983, they had to account for the time between her EAOS date and the date of discharge. Thus the extra "3,903 days" that she didn't serve.
It would seem that she was one day short of 10 weeks of active service when she disappeared.
In 1976, while Gerald Ford was still President, he initiated a pardon procedure for Vietnam War Draft Dodgers and Deserters to return to the United States and turn them selves in. Jimmy Carter, upon entering office, made the program much broader, pardoning all Draft Dodgers and Deserters. Still there was some sort of a time limit and it was probably after that limit expired that the Army/FBI decided to "clear the books" of all outstanding AWOL/Desertion cases. Thus the letter and the subsequent discharge.
The Army and the FBI have put you in the classic position of "Catch 22". They have assumed that Gloria intentionally deserted the army and intentionally refused to return when given the chance (their letter to your grandparents).
Now the burden of proof is on YOU to show that she is dead before they will even talk to you!? How convenient for them. When neither the Army nor the great and powerful FBI can find their own butts with both hands, they insist that Gloria's daughter do their work for them. Who's on First?
What can you do about this? Several things.
First, you could go to court and request that your mother be legally declared dead, based on the circumstances and her long absence. Also, get the court to recognize you as her closest living heir and relative. This would remove any legal barriers thrown up by the Army or the FBI regarding the Privacy Act (which is what they probably cited in their refusal to release her records to you).
Second, petition the Military Court of Appeals on her behalf to remove/reverse
her Dishonorable Discharge. She cannot be tried in abstentia, and a Dishonorable Discharge can only be awarded by a Military Court Martial.
If her discharge was not actually a Dishonorable Discharge, then it might have been one of the administrative types of discharge, like a General Discharge under Honorable Conditions, or an "Undesirable Discharge" (now called a discharge under conditions "Other than Honorable"). If this is the case, there is an administrative procedure to appeal the discharge, but you might still need to go through the Army Judge Advocate General system.
Third, as already mentioned, get your DNA into the missing person data base. As her daughter, your Mitocondrial DNA is identical to hers. Your specific DNA will also be a match with hers. This will provide a way of matching any potential Jane Does to Gloria.