If you are looking for military records from World War I and World War II as well as the years between those wars, you probably are already aware that many of the personnel records were destroyed in a fire on July 12, 1973. The National Personnel Records Center lost approximately 16 to 18 million Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF). No duplicate copies of these records were ever maintained, nor were microfilm copies produced. Neither were any indexes created prior to the fire. A complete listing of the records that were lost is not available.
You can read more about the fire and the records that were lost at http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/fire-1973.html.
The near-impossible task of restoring the charred documents that survived continues to this day. Last year, the center fielded 1.5 million requests for documents — requests that demand extracting and delivering accurate information from records charred by fire, soaked with water and often crusted with mold. Six and a half million documents in one form or another have been partially or completely recovered.
You can read more about this wonderful effort in an article by Steve Giegerich on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at http://goo.gl/VndXo.
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