The Big Fire of 1973

Did you know a lot of US Army records (back at least as far as WW1, were moved to a new building in St. Louis in 1973?   Later that year, the building in St. Louis burnt downMost of the records were lost! Ah, the Nixon era…  They don’t know who won medals in WW1, WW2, Korea, Viet Nam (before 1975). One of the exceptions is the base in Oahu, Hawaii, — where my father was stationed with the Army in 1945, and where Grandpa Knowlton went, on his way to Okinawa, in 1944-5.  Pearl Harbor was a naval base, so the records were not lost.

The fire:

https://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/fire-1973.html

The burned records:

https://www.archives.gov/st-louis/archival-programs/preservation-program/burned-records.html

A Study in Disaster:

[pdf-embedder url=”http://letters.sullivanweb.me/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/NPRC_fire_a_study_in_disaster.pdf”]

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A librarian friend of ours comments:

  • although the St. Louis buildings burned down, individual personnel records, OMPF (Official Military Personnel File) are still there. Apparently, there are different degrees of material in each file.

The N.A. (National Archives) in St. Louis should also have the DD214 – a 1 page chronology of service. One can request at:

https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records

They have records at the Company Level papers, Morning Reports & Unti Rosters.

For requests of information, they require a:

  1. The Standard Form 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records (SF180) is used to request information from military records. Certain identifying information is necessary to determine the location of an individual’s record of military service.

Request Pertaining to Military Records, SF 180 (11-15)

https://www.archives.gov/files/research/order/standard-form-180.pdf

Also, some of the same papers were also stored elsewhere, so they are not all lost in flames.. For example, the records from the units – 1917 onward are at the University of Maryland in College Park (not sure if that applies to Navy). With the improved technology, some papers that were damaged but not destroyed have been restored, too.

Another source for WWII is a digitized edition of the “green book”. The US Army Center of Military History, that was written about WWII, and describes the progress of the campaigns, or special unit’s actions. It also includes info on organization of the forces.