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My father served in the infantry in WWII and was wounded in action. I know that his military service records were destroyed in the 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center. Is there any hope of reconstructing his military service, including discovery of any medals he may have earned?

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Unfortunately nothing exists to be able to put together what you are looking for concerning your father. The destruction of these records is one of the true tragedies of our archive system.

I also requested personnel records that were apparently destroyed in the fire (first letter I received back stated this), but I was still able to obtain other records such as my ancestors Missing Air Crew Report, and his Individual Deceased Personnel File. So I would say that "yes" there is certainly hope that you can reconstruct his military service.

Were there specific events that the individual participated in that if you looked up online "might" perhaps mention him? I recently posted (just this morning) some of the resources that I used. One of them that I forgot to add was Google Books. Believe it or not, there are a lot of military books that document various events, warbirds, ships, and all sorts of goodies.

There are also the websites "Footnote" and "Scribd" which have online documents that others have uploaded and I have found plenty of military stuff in there.

Good luck!!

Thanks for the ray of hope. Unfortunately I know little about my father's military service other than he was wounded in the last months of the war while advancing in Germany. My mother insisted that he served in Guatemala during the war, contracting malaria. After he got out of the hospital for that he was sent to Germany. But I can find no record of our military in Guatemala between January 1941 (when he enlisted) and 1944.
Hey Chip, Same story for my Grandfathers records.... They did advise that I could request they try to recreate what they could from numerous other records, but no guarantees...
Since I posted this I have found an amazing amount about my father's WWII service. He was in the 259th Infantry Brigade, 65th Infantry Division who pushed into the SAAR region and breached the Siegfried Line in the last days of the war. I have found stories of that campaign. I also know where he was discharged and that he was critically wounded on May 5, 1945 just 3 days before the total surrender of Germany. I have requested his discharge information and a replacement for at least his Purple Heart. Now a question: can anyone tell me a good source for WWII casualty lists?
Part 2 of my post See below for Pt 1 Another thing to beware of is If someone tells you "Those records were stored in St. Louis" don't automatically jump to the conclusion that they were at NPRC and burned. Army Reserve Personnel Command and the VA have huge storage facilities in St. Louis but were not in the fire.

NPRC has a records reconstruction branch and often can reconstruct service records from pay records. They have most difficulty reconstructing medical records. Some of the records that survived the fire are too brittle to be of any use.

Be aware the Phatt Butt Syndrome is of epidemic proportions in these areas.
The big caveat to the statement "The records were lost in the NPRC fire because someone told me they were" is They were only destroyed if they were in fact there. The fire consumed the top floor of the National Personnel Records Center and area 3 football fields long and two wide. The records lost were 85 % of the Army and about half of the Air Force records. The Army records stored there began about 1912. So if your ancestor served in the Spanish American War these records would not have been there. The Air Force did not exist prior to 1946. If the person had a reserve obligation, his records may have been at the Army Reserve Personnel Command. Same if in Air Force Reserve. If the veteran or his dependents filed a claim with the Dept of Veterans Affairs, the VA would have those records.
Do you have your father's separation papers, any medals he was entitled to will be listed on them. Have you requested your father's records, not all of the records were destroyed and they do try to get information from secondary sources. I was able to get some information about my grandfather who served in WWI, not much but it was something. I was also able to get information about other relatives who served in WWII and Korea. If you do not have your father's papers you can start your research by going to and typing in your father’s name he should be listed there, that will give you the date he entered the service and more important, his serial number. Once you have his serial number you can submit a request for his records at the NARA site because you are next of kin. It is always good to make a request; you never know what may come back. Another good source of information is Division and Regimental associations. Years back, I joined the association for the outfit that one of my uncles served in during WWII and I was able to get a lot of information from them. The people who were running the association were mostly ex veterans at the time and they had done a tremendous amount of research.



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