I received an email several days ago from a gal whose husband served from the early eighties for 4 years. They had filed for various diseases (yep-HCV, too) and got back an interesting note from their VSO. It appears their records were burned up in 1973 even though he was about 7 years old then. Amazing, isn’t it? Is this like VSRs being unable to find any mention of HCV in your records from 1970? Or, better yet, opining that because the Hepatitis Australian Antigens (HAA)test in 1972 was positive, that proved you had acute Hepatitis A that resolved spontaneously?
When confronted with the dichotomy of how records produced 14 years after the fire could have been consumed in it, the service officer said he’d “have to look into it”. I’m sure they’ll have a good answer for her. She and I are awaiting that one.
Here’s the definitive info as near as NPRC is willing to admit. The fire consumed the following:
80% loss to records of U.S. Army personnel discharged November 1, 1912, to January 1, 1960
75% loss to records of U.S. Air Force personnel discharged September 25, 1947, to January 1, 1964, with names alphabetically after Hubbard, James E.
Some U.S. Army Reserve personnel who performed their initial active duty for training in the late 1950s but who received final discharge as late as 1964.
None of the records that were destroyed in the fire had duplicate copies made, nor had they been copied to microfilm. No index of these records was made prior to the fire, and millions of records were on loan to the Veterans Administration at the time of the fire. This made it difficult to precisely determine which records were lost,
Since the VA can’t find their own ass with a sensitive methane detector, I’m sure they have never returned any records “on loan” back to the NPRC. Of note here, remember there are two other very large sources of information stored at the NPRC which they are loathe to admit exist. First, all in-patient hospital records from military hospitals are not associated with your Service Treatment Records (STRs) nor are you military Service records which would include assignments, medals, rank and the like. Three sets of files stored separately and filed by hospital chronologically. In addition, some medical records from military hospital still languish in basements and other storage areas at those hospitals and were never forwarded to St. Louis.
And then there are the real, off-road civilian hospitals in Southeast Asia where Air America and USAID set up in remote locations. Many service personnel inadvertently left their records behind mistakenly assuming our government would dutifully retrieve them. Those are gone forever much like the records damaged by water and fire in St. Louis.
The NPRC can access quite of bit of info for your claims if you are anally specific about asking them to. Sometimes you have to go back two or three times to find it or get them to perform a true search. The truth is out there except for the the few mentioned above. Out of curiosity, I wonder if they’ll ever bother to scan all these records into an electronic database or just set another fire and be done with it. Here’s a NARA link that also describes it well.