Skip to comments.The painstaking effort to recover millions of burned military service records
Posted on 08/06/2013 12:08:33 PM PDT by Timber Rattler
Forty years ago this summer, firefighters in St. Louis arrived on the scene of what would become an archive catastrophe unparalleled in U.S. history a disaster that to this day is affecting military veterans and their families.
Minutes after an alarm sounded on July 12, 1973, the firefighters reached the National Personnel Records Center, which held millions of official military files spanning the 20th century. They reached the burning sixth floor, but after a couple of hours had to withdraw because of the flames and heat. The inferno burned out of control for 22 hours, and it took two days before fire officials could even re-enter the building. The smoke was so thick and harsh that residents living in the area had to remain indoors for days. After 4½ days and millions of gallons of water poured into the building the fire department declared the fire extinguished.
The calamity ultimately destroyed the records of about 18 million veterans, including roughly 80 percent for Army personnel discharged between 1912 and 1960 and 75 percent of Air Force personnel discharged between 1947 and 1964.
The documents had never been microfilmed, nor did any duplicates exist. No cause of fire was ever determined.
(Excerpt) Read more at stripes.com ...
Laying down cover for John Kerry, Bill Clinton, and all of the other subversive turncoats that the Democrats had in their candidate pipeline.
I’ve been involved in arranging funerals and burials at a national cemetary for my father, my father in law, my brother, and others.
If the DD214 was available, great. If not - there were hoops to jump through. Not insurmountable hoops, but still....
I was told from the day I joined to save a copy of every document of service or performance. I often used my own files to fill in holes in the official record when it converted to microfiche or later to database.
I must say though that when the conversions took place my official hard copy files were forwarded to me by St. Louis.
Did not know that forty years later they are still recovering burned files. That’s a good thing.
My father served in combat during the Korean War and I’ve always wanted to go to whatever reunion of the soldiers he served with. It is tough to find out much about it except that we still have his pictures and his CIB. Korea looked like the moon in 1952.
bump to read later
About 6 years ago, my husband and I were able to do just that. My dad served in the 760th FA BN in Luzon, Philippines. Dad had passed by then, but eight guys who served in his battalion were there. I imagine most of them are gone now. They made us official members of the 760th and gave us a baseball cap and t-shirt. I left my hat on dad’s grave. I wish I had bothered to locate a reunion for him before he passed.
Inaccurate. I was discharged in 1967 and mine were destroyed.
The documents had never been microfilmed, nor did any duplicates exist.
Also inaccurate. I was able to get a copy of mine because they were indeed on microfilm in Washington D.C.
Is that where John Kerry’s discharge papers got lost?
Dang. There went my proof that I was a Navy Seal in ‘Nam at age 5.
I wondered if the St. Louis fire was started on purpose so something would never come to light.
The 1890 census burned up too with even fewer records remaining.
But accidents do happen.
I got drafted in ‘66 out in ‘68... ALL SHOOK UP. Had an issue last year and needed my records as I was a Guinea Pig at Edgewood Chemical testing center. I needed to find out why I am strange!
God was on my side. My records were intact and all 217 pages made it to my Dr. Needed my congressman to do the inquiry. I was one of the lucky ones .
I have known about the fire for years but I didn’t know that anything survived.
Do yo have any idea what unit he served with? Any photos of him in uniform which will identify his division?
Sisters boyfriend was able to get Treated at the VA despite Dishonorable DC because of this. Wonder how many others?
I got some good advice from an NCO when I was an E3 and told to keep a copy of every promotion order, pay stub, training order, etc., I ever got while on duty. I still have over 95% of those.
I used to work for a COL and when we asked him if we could throw documents away, he’d say “Just make sure you make a copy and send them to the historical records section”.
I had an uncle, KIA 1944 in France and is buried in Epinal an American Battle Commission Cemetery. It took me almost three years to get most of his records. I will help anyone for free if you PM me. In the meantime, did your loved one survive the war? Did he ever go to the VA? Do you have his ASN, if not you can possible find his enlistment record online, at the National Archives website. You can contact professional research companies. This is not cheap, I was quoted $200, a one page record. Was he KIA? If so the VA may have a file which provided mucho info.
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