This photo was found on Wikipedia. The tag line about this photo, according to Wikipedia, came from Wikimedia Commons. "The 1973 National Archives Fire, a severe blow to the National Archives and Records Administration of the United States, was a disastrous fire that occurred at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, Missouri, on July 12, 1973."
The Wikimedia Commons is a freely license media fire repository. You can help. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Welcome
Approximately 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF) were lost. They included eighty percent of Branch Personnel and Army Personnel discharged between Nov. 1, 1912 and Jan. 1, 1960; and seventy-five percent of Air Force Personnel discharged between Sept. 25, 1947 and Jan. 1, 1964 (with names alphabetically after Hubbard, James E.). No duplicate or microfilm copies of these records were ever maintained, or produced. No indexes had been created prior to the fire. Millions of documents were on loan to the Department of Veterans Affairs before the fire so a complete listing of the records lost is also unavailable. However, during the ensuing years, the NPRC has collected numerous Auxiliary Records which were used to reconstruct basic military information. If you'd like to read more about this fire here is the link where I got the basic information:
There's a reason for this article, as you will see by reading the following story, about my father, his service to our country, and my experiences thus far in my attempts to obtain and find his military records. He is gone now, so I can't ask him ... as you might imagine, I was disappointed and disheartened when I received the news that his records were lost, along with 16-18 million others. My heart goes out to anyone else who has had the same response from the Records Administration in St. Louis.
Here is ... the rest of the story!
Since my father's military records were lost in the 1973 National Arhive fire in St. Louis, I decided to search elsewhere to see if I could find at least "some" of his experiences in the Army.
In my search, I found a document with my father's name on it. A close friend, whose spouse was in the military, has an awesome military website. http://www.vetshome.com/ So ... knowing how saavy he is about all things military, I asked some questions this morning (through an online chat with his wife). I am not a connoisseur of military terms. He was able to enlighten me about this document as well as more about what it meant, and how it affected my father. Wow ... is all I can say, besides thanking him over and over for his knowledge and information. This is one of those "nuggets" I refer to on my homepage, that is turning into my own personal "pearl" ... yay! I'm hoping I can find more ... perhaps photos, articles, or more military documents with his name.
The document I found was a Field Order from Merseburg, Germany. It was dated "Wednesday, 13 September 1944". It is a Debriefing Report of the 325th Squadron. Since Bob knows and understands military lingo and such, he shared this:
My father was in the "Army Air Force". During that time, we didn’t actually have Air Force like today; during WWII it was referred to as the "Army Air Force". Bob could tell by his squadron that he was a "gunner" on an airplane. WG = wing gunner - TG = tail gunner … also that he was on a "bomber" … they are all debriefed after a bombing run. They had to do that each time, after they went out. He could also tell how high up they were - 29,000 ft up. Not exactly front line, but flew over Germany, probably Saalberg. My father ran a machine gun on the plane, shooting at the plane that had attacked them. A wing or tail gunner is what they were called. He was under the belly or on top of plane, depending on what type of plane (in the middle, where the wing is). They had 3 holes in the plane when they got back (schrapnel), from being shot at... The WG beside Dad's name designated he was a "Wing Gunner".
Below this article, I have another document, a newspaper article. It is an article I found in his personal belongings (which were few as he was a very private man, most things were burned before he passed. I think he knew it was his time to go). The article is self-explanatory. He knew the military personnel looked forward to their correspondence from home; he was a mail carrier prior to his military career.
If there is anyone who has information, articles, documents, or stories they want to share about their loved ones, I would be more than happy to post them here. And, who knows, perhaps I can connect with people who knew him, or have relatives who may have known him during his tenure in the U.S. Army Air Force!!
Dad knew how important correspondence from was to the soldiers. He made sure, no matter the weather, that the troops got their mail!
Well, my father was an "Iowan" who went to war, but KETV was asking for memories and stories about loved ones in the military. My story, and letter got accepted, was featured, and I received this coin medal, in honor of his military service to our country!