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Thursday, May 5, 2011

NARA Fire of 1973?

Sue asked a very good question about a fire at NARA in 1973.  I do not know the answer, but am doing something a little different today on AskOliveTree by posting Sue's question anyway! I'm hoping one of my readers might have some advice for Sue. Please post any suggestions or advice in the comment section for Sue to read.

We are searching for information on a deceased relative who served in the Army in the 40s. First in WW2, then in peace time. We've submitted paperwork to the NARA to do a military records search. We were able to find his army serial number and submitted that with our request. Sadly, the response today saying that the records were lost in the fire of 1973. Right now this appears to be a brick wall. Wondering if you've encountered this problem and have any suggestions of where to look next. We're interested in trying to piece together his military history.


  1. Order his IDPF - Individual Deceased Personnel File from the NARA College Park MD. It has a lot of information. Not usually step by step service but how they were killed, where, where they were buried, letters from next of kin, etc.

    It takes 9+ months to receive but is worth it. The copies are free.

    US Army
    Human Resources Command
    Attn: AHRC-PAO(FOIA), Room 7S65
    200 Stovall Street
    Alexandria, VA 22331-0400

    Dear Staff:
    Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, I hereby make a request for the "Individual Deceased Personnel File" for my below listed family member who died or was killed-in-action while serving in the military during World War II.

    Military Service Number:
    Date of Birth:
    Date of Death:
    Branch of Service:
    Relationship to deceased:

  2. Oh sorry - I thought the individual died during WWII - the IDPF is for service men and women who died during service. If he died while not in the service, it won't help you.

  3. A search on the NARA web site
    for "fire 1973", brought up a page for alternate military records.
    There are many additional links on these pages which may also be useful. Good luck in your search.

  4. I have two suggestions. Often the DD-214 (discharge record) was recorded at the county courthouse where the soldier went after his discharge. Many states have now made these records unavailable to the general public because of identity theft. Each state has different rules concerning access by relatives. You might want to check on this.

    In addition some states paid a bonus to WWII & Korean War vets. You might want to check with the state archives for his home state.