Central New York Research. The eclectic ramblings of doing genealogy and growing up in that part of Upstate New York that is the central and Finger Lakes regions. With ancestors all over the northeast and beyond, there will be forays outside the area with trips and news on family history as well as local history.
Many of us have parents or grandparents who served during
World War I or II. Some of us have the information and military records that
these people saved. Others have only found out or gotten interested in their
service after these people have passed on. Many of the papers have been lost or
discarded long ago.
There is a simple solution- just send away to the National
Archives for them. Or is there? For most of the branches of service, this can
be the answer. However, if they belonged to the Army, Army Air Force or Air
Force between 1912 and 1963, you are likely out of luck. These records were
housed at the National Personnel Records Center in Saint Louis, Missouri.
The fire from the VA website
Why is this fact important? Shortly after midnight, 43 years
ago today, on July 12, 1973, a fire started in the top floor of this building.
What a fire it was!
It swept through the entire 6th floor taking with it most of these
records as well as causing damage to the 5th floor.
It was two days before they were able to reenter the building after the fire
was out. It is estimated that between 16 and 18 million official records went
up in flames that night. For the Army this was 80% of those discharged between
November 1, 1912 and January 1, 1960. For the Air Force it was 75% of those
discharged between September 25, 1947 and January 1, 1964. There were no
copies. There were no microfilms. These records are gone.
Since then the government has used what they call auxiliary
records to try to reconstruct the basic record of each person whose records
were destroyed. However, for many people the details of their service during
this time period is gone forever.
I have tried to retrieve copies of the service records for my grandparents, Marion and Alice (Jennings) Wooster in the past, but was unsuccessful. At the time I didn't know why they couldn't be found. They both served during WWI, Marion in the Calvary of the Army and Alice in the Army Nurse's Corp. Marion additionally served during WWII in the SeaBees, part of the Army.