Fire Destroys Military Records

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IkfL''V" t; " ' ' ;' i " r -Xti c . -1- v t 5 TiTT rnr v inBnfflfrn nriTiniinnnn "PiiMMMMMMffiiiiiM1 in i ittti it hii i it r lininp nnor i u r n r i n i n im in mi mi i i i n i Fire trucks spray Mater on the smoking top floors of the records center Fire Destroys Military Files UPI Photo ST. LOUIS - (UPI) A fire in the gigantic U.S. Military Personnel Records Center destroyed hundreds of thousands of military documents Thursday. The fire broke out a few minutes after midnight on the top floor of the six-story building in suburban Overland. Firemen poured water into the smoldering structure containing stacks of records packed in cardboard boxes. . Center officials said they had been unable to determine the extent of the loss. Some documents, they said, were irreplac-able. THE BUILDING contained records of 56 million members and former members of all branches of the military, Including the reserves, Ma. Deane H. Looney of the center said. A Defense Department spokesman In Washington said the files were primarily of men and women who had retired from the armed services, had been discharged or had died. FBI agents were Investigating the possibility of arson. One center employe said small fires that apparently were the work of arsonists had been found and extinguished in recent weeks. Four firemen suffered minor injuries in Thursday's fire. The 50 employes at work when the fire started were evacuated safely: The sixth floor was used primarily for files dated back over 25 years. "They are tentatively identified as World War I and predominantly Navy World War II records," a Defense Department spokesman said. Spokesmen said no pay records for personnel now in the armed forces and no armed forces active duty files appeared to be involved. Col. Leonard Reed, chief of news for the Army in Washington, said: "There are all kinds of records stored there. Some of them are the full file copies of Army personnel. These are not duplicated." Peggy Delman, a personnel clerk who works on the sixth floor, said: "It's going to be a hell of a job reconstructing those records. It can be done through the VA (Veterans Administration) if the people had gone there for anything, but a lot of them haven't." Information on hand at the center is used in handling requests for replacement of discharge certificates, furnishing records to trhe VA for adjudication of claims, verifying military service for social security benefits, and similar purposes. Am new

Clipped from
  1. Detroit Free Press,
  2. 13 Jul 1973, Fri,
  3. Page 14

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