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Veteran Records Destroyed by Fire in 1973

On July 12, 1973, a fire at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis destroyed records held for Veterans who were discharged from the Army and Air Force.

Records Held for Army Veterans

The fire destroyed 80 percent of the records held for Veterans who were discharged from the Army between November 1, 1912 and January 1, 1960.

Exceptions:  Records for retirees and reservists who were alive on July 12, 1973, were not involved in the fire.

Records Held for Air Force Veterans

The fire destroyed 75 percent of the records held for Veterans who were discharged from the Air Force between September 25, 1947 and January 1, 1964 with surnames beginning with Hubbard and running through the end of the alphabet.

Reconstructing Your Records

If your records were destroyed in the fire, there is a specific request that we submit to the NPRC for any additional service records.  This request provides information that allows the NPRC to research for other types of documents.  The NPRC can attempt to reconstruct portions of the service treatment records from the Surgeon General’s Office using unit records and morning reports, and by looking at extracts from military hospital admission records provided by the Surgeon General.

If you are filing a claim for disability compensation and your records were destroyed in the fire, submit NA Form 13055, Request for Information Needed to Reconstruct Medical Data with your claim. We will use this form as our request to the NPRC to reconstruct any applicable records. It is critical that you provide as much information as you can to include the units you were assigned to, as well as the name of the company, battalion, regiment, squadron, group, and/or wing.

We do not rely only on the service treatment records when deciding claims for cases that are related to the 1973 fire.  You can provide or request us to obtain supplemental records. Here are some examples of evidence that you may use to supplement or substitute your service treatment records:

  • Statements from service medical personnel.
  • Certified “buddy” statements or affidavits.
  • Accident and police reports.
  • Employment-related examination reports.
  • Letters written during service.
  • Photographs taken during service.
  • Pharmacy prescription records.
  • Insurance-related examination reports.
  • Medical evidence from civilian/private hospitals, clinics, and physicians that treated you during service or shortly after separation.
  • We will accept photocopies of any service treatment records that you may have in your possession. 

Submit Your Claim

We encourage you to work with an accredited representative or agent to file your claim.  You can request an attorney, claims agent, or Veteran Service Organization representative online.

To file your claim electronically, use eBenefits at  Make sure you upload NA Form 13055 and any supplemental material noted above with your claim. 

To file your claim by mail or fax, complete VA Form 21-526EZ.  Attach NA Form 13055 and any supplemental material noted above with your claim.  You can mail or fax the forms and material to your centralized mail processing location.  To find the mailing address or fax number for your state, go to our mailing addresses web page for disability compensation claims.