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Military Personnel Records Center

Military Personnel Records Center

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The Military Personnel Records Center (NPRC-MPR)http://vetrecs.archives.gov located at 9700 Page Avenue in St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is an independent city on the eastern border of Missouri, United States. With a population of 319,294, it was the 58th-largest U.S. city at the 2010 U.S. Census. The Greater St...

, USA, is a branch of the National Personnel Records Center
National Personnel Records Center
The National Personnel Records Center is an agency of the National Archives and Records Administration, created in 1956. It is divided into two large Federal Records Centers located in St...

 and is the repository of over 56 million military personnel records
Service record
A service record is a collection of either electronic or printed material which provides a documentary history of a person's activities and accomplishments while serving as a member of a given organization...

 and medical records pertaining to retired, discharged, and deceased veterans of the U.S. armed forces
Military of the United States
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

.

The Military Personnel Records Center also stores over thirty-nine million auxiliary military records to include casualty indexes, unit reports, some military pay records, and the medical treatment records of retirees from all services, as well as records for dependents and other persons treated at naval medical facilities.

The earliest records on file at MPRC are enlisted Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 records from 1885, Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency...

 records from 1898, Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 records dating from 1905. Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 records date from 1917, and Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 records from 1947. Older military records, from the Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

, Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, and earlier periods, are maintained at the National Archives and Records Administration
National Archives and Records Administration
The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent agency of the United States government charged with preserving and documenting government and historical records and with increasing public access to those documents, which comprise the National Archives...

 in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

.

In May of 2011, the Military Personnel Records Center began its relocation to a new modern facility in the city of Hazelwood, Missouri
Hazelwood, Missouri
Hazelwood is a second-ring suburb of St. Louis, located in northwestern St. Louis County, Missouri. The population was 25,703 as of the 2010 census. Hazelwood, a northern suburb of St. Louis, is located north of Lambert-St...

. A complete move from the Overland location to Hazelwood is estimated to be concluded by the fall of 2012.

Early history


The Military Personnel Records Center was designed by architect Minoru Yamasaki
Minoru Yamasaki
was a Japanese-American architect, best known for his design of the twin towers of the World Trade Center, buildings 1 and 2. Yamasaki was one of the most prominent architects of the 20th century...

, and opened in 1955 after three years of construction. The facility was designed to replace the much older Army Personnel Records Center which was an active military installation of the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 and housed discharged and retired Army records dating back to the Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

.

From 1955 to 1964, the Military Personnel Records Center was used mainly by government agencies requiring information from military service records. Veterans during this time period normally could not obtain service record information, except by way of personally visiting the facility. This had changed in 1965, when photocopy machines became widespread at the Military Personnel Records Center making it easier to reproduce service records upon request from all interested parties.

In 1968, control of the Military Personnel Records Center converted to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), then referred to as the National Archives and Records Service (NARS), and the building became known as the "National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records" (NPRC-MPR). Its sister organization, the Civilian Personnel Records Center (NPRC-CPR) was established in Overland, Missouri. Between 1965 and 1973, the Military Personnel Records Center gradually became overwhelmed with the volume of records requests it was receiving and developed a bad reputation as being non-customer
Customer
A customer is usually used to refer to a current or potential buyer or user of the products of an individual or organization, called the supplier, seller, or vendor. This is typically through purchasing or renting goods or services...

 friendly. Veterans would typically wait anywhere from six months to two years to obtain records, and in many cases the records provided were incomplete or not the correct records which were requested. There was also no recourse or quality assurance
Quality Assurance
Quality assurance, or QA for short, is the systematic monitoring and evaluation of the various aspects of a project, service or facility to maximize the probability that minimum standards of quality are being attained by the production process...

 during this time period, leaving complaints on records requests largely unanswered.

The 1973 fire


On July 12, 1973, the entire sixth floor of the Military Personnel Records Center was destroyed along with over sixteen million military service records. Shortly after the fire, a discussion was held within the General Services Administration
General Services Administration
The General Services Administration is an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1949 to help manage and support the basic functioning of federal agencies. The GSA supplies products and communications for U.S...

 (which then operated the facility) to close down the Military Personnel Records Center in lieu of a new facility. This did not come to pass, however, and instead a large "Reconstruction Project" was begun to restore the records destroyed in the fire.

The reconstruction effort of the Military Personnel Records Center continues to this day with daily accessions of "Recon Records" which are created to replace a service record destroyed in the 1973 fire. Reconstruction Records are created through use of alternate records sources such as pay records and records from the Department of Veterans Affairs
United States Department of Veterans Affairs
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs is a government-run military veteran benefit system with Cabinet-level status. It is the United States government’s second largest department, after the United States Department of Defense...

.

Modernization


From 1975 to 1996, the Military Personnel Records Center operated through a complex system of paperwork forms with little computer automation. The 1980s saw serious complaints against the facility to the extent that the military service departments began procedures to hold their own records rather than have such records sent to the Military Personnel Records Center.

In 1985, control of the Military Personnel Records Center was handed over from the General Services Administration to the National Archives and Records Administration. By the 1990s, efforts were underway to correct problems which had resulted in complaints against the facility and to reduce the huge amount of backlogged requests for military records.

In 1995, the first major computer tracking facility was introduced at the Military Personnel Records Center and employees began receiving training on all types of service records, whereas before different offices handled records only from a particular branch of service.

In 1999, a one million-plus dollar computer system, known as "Siebel
Siebel
Siebel, originally Flugzeugbau Halle, was a German aircraft manufacturer founded in 1937 in Halle an der Saale. It was revived as Siebelwerke in 1948. In 1952, it merged with ATG to form Siebelwerke-ATG Gmbh...

" was introduced at the Military Personnel Records Center, thus changing the agency into a paperless system. MPR's internet request site came online in 2000 allowing veterans or other parties to request military service records over the Internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

.

Present day


Most of the records on file at the National Personnel Records Center are considered property of the U.S. military and record requests are normally only honored from veterans, next-of-kin of deceased veterans, and certain agencies of the federal government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

. The general public may request records information under the Freedom of Information Act
Freedom of Information Act (United States)
The Freedom of Information Act is a federal freedom of information law that allows for the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the United States government. The Act defines agency records subject to disclosure, outlines mandatory disclosure...

, but not copies of entire records or personal information regarding former military service members.

Requests for information to the Military Personnel Records Center number approximately 4000 letters per day. In the fall of 2004, an Internet hoax stated that the Military Personnel Records Center was destroying paper copies of all records in lieu of computer scanning. National Archives officials stressed that all records are permanently archived, meaning that they will never be destroyed and always maintained as historical documents. Despite this statement, the number of requests to NPRC-MPR rose considerably, causing a significant backlog in record copy responses. As of 2005, internet notices and public announcements stemmed requests resulting from the "record destruction" rumor and the Military Personnel Records Center is back to a standard response time of approximately ten days for simple requests and as long as three to six months for complex requests requiring extensive research.

After 1995, the Department of the Navy
United States Department of the Navy
The Department of the Navy of the United States of America was established by an Act of Congress on 30 April 1798, to provide a government organizational structure to the United States Navy and, from 1834 onwards, for the United States Marine Corps, and when directed by the President, of the...

 began retaining personnel records of Navy and Marine Corps personnel and ceased retiring these records to NPRC. Such records are now kept on file in Millington, Tennessee
Millington, Tennessee
Millington is a city in Shelby County, Tennessee. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 10,176. Millington was the home of the recently closed Memphis Motorsports Park. It was granted the title "Flag City Tennessee" by the Tennessee State Legislature. The Naval Support Activity Mid-South is...

 (for the Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

) and in Quantico, Virginia
Quantico, Virginia
- Demographics :As of the census of 2000, there are 561 people, 295 households, and 107 families living in the town. The population density is . There are 359 housing units at an average density of .-Racial composition:...

 (for the Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

). The Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 and Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 ceased retiring records to the Military Personnel Records Center in 2002 with the last Coast Guard records officially retired in 2004 although some USCG records as late as 2008 are still being sent to NPRC.

Between 2007 and 2008, the Army began giving NPRC access to its electronic military service record system (called "DPIRS") and most Army cases are now again answered directly by NPRC although, for problems concerning electronic Army records, veterans are advised to contact the United States Army Human Resources Command
United States Army Human Resources Command
The United States Army Human Resources Command is a command of the United States Army command established in 2003 from the merger of the United States Total Army Personnel Command in Alexandria, Virginia, and the United States Army Reserve Personnel Command in St. Louis, Missouri...

 (HRC) directly.

Between 1992 and 1998, the Department of Veterans Affairs
United States Department of Veterans Affairs
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs is a government-run military veteran benefit system with Cabinet-level status. It is the United States government’s second largest department, after the United States Department of Defense...

 began a project to receive military health records upon a service member's discharge, release, death in service, or retirement from the military. As of 2000, all military health records are now retired to the Department of Veterans Affairs instead of to the Military Personnel Records Center.

Archival Records


In 2005, a large number of Marine Corps and Navy records, which had been housed at the Military Personnel Records Center as Department of the Navy records were transferred to the legal custody of the National Archives. The records in question consisted of enlisted Navy and Marine Corps personnel who were discharged or retired prior to 1939 and were reclassified as public access, much the same as Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 and Spanish American War records which are maintained in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

.

Between 2006 and 2007, the category of archival records was extended to any record where the veteran in question was discharged, retired, or died more than 62 years from the current date. Known as the "62 year rule" this also applied to the Reconstruction Records of the NPRC fire related records holdings. As of 2008, the 62 year rule of archival records applies to any record in NPRC's possession with the exception of Navy Medical Records, Inpatient Clinical Records (i.e. Hospital
Hospital
A hospital is a health care institution providing patient treatment by specialized staff and equipment. Hospitals often, but not always, provide for inpatient care or longer-term patient stays....

 medical files), and certain records considered "organizational" such as rosters, pay records, and unit history information.

As of 2009, with the first Air Force records from 1947 becoming public archival records, every branch of service now has some type of archival record on file at NPRC. The first records of the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 will become archival in 2012, the earliest Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 records will become archival in 2023, while records of the Persian Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

 will not become archival until 2053.

The new Archival Records became open to unlimited access by the general public with all requests for information to such records responded by providing a copy of the entire file. Those seeking these records were required to pay a fee, whereas the "Non-Archival Records", that is the bulk of MPRC's holdings, are provided free of charge.

As part of the Archival Records program, a large number of prominent and VIP records were also transferred to the custody of the National Archives and open to general public access http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/public/persons-of-prominence.html. Such records include:
  • Desi Arnaz
    Desi Arnaz
    Desi Arnaz was a Cuban-born American musician, actor and television producer. While he gained international renown for leading a Latin music band, the Desi Arnaz Orchestra, he is probably best known for his role as Ricky Ricardo on the American TV series I Love Lucy, starring with Lucille Ball, to...

  • Henry H. Arnold
    Henry H. Arnold
    Henry Harley "Hap" Arnold was an American general officer holding the grades of General of the Army and later General of the Air Force. Arnold was an aviation pioneer, Chief of the Air Corps , Commanding General of the U.S...

  • Joseph Barrow
    Joe Louis
    Joseph Louis Barrow , better known as Joe Louis, was the world heavyweight boxing champion from 1937 to 1949. He is considered to be one of the greatest heavyweights of all time...

     (Joe Louis)
  • Humphrey Bogart
    Humphrey Bogart
    Humphrey DeForest Bogart was an American actor. He is widely regarded as a cultural icon.The American Film Institute ranked Bogart as the greatest male star in the history of American cinema....

  • Benjamin O. Davis
    Benjamin O. Davis, Sr.
    Brigadier General Benjamin Oliver Davis, Sr. was an American general and the father of Benjamin O. Davis Jr. He was the first African-American general officer in the United States Army....

  • William J. Donovan
  • James Doolittle
    Jimmy Doolittle
    General James Harold "Jimmy" Doolittle, USAF was an American aviation pioneer. Doolittle served as a brigadier general, major general and lieutenant general in the United States Army Air Forces during the Second World War...

  • James Forrestal
    James Forrestal
    James Vincent Forrestal was the last Cabinet-level United States Secretary of the Navy and the first United States Secretary of Defense....

  • Clark Gable
    Clark Gable
    William Clark Gable , known as Clark Gable, was an American film actor most famous for his role as Rhett Butler in the 1939 Civil War epic film Gone with the Wind, in which he starred with Vivien Leigh...

  • Alexander Haley
  • Curtis Lemay
    Curtis LeMay
    Curtis Emerson LeMay was a general in the United States Air Force and the vice presidential running mate of American Independent Party candidate George Wallace in 1968....

  • Burt Lancaster
    Burt Lancaster
    Burton Stephen "Burt" Lancaster was an American film actor noted for his athletic physique and distinctive smile...

  • George S. Patton
    George S. Patton
    George Smith Patton, Jr. was a United States Army officer best known for his leadership while commanding corps and armies as a general during World War II. He was also well known for his eccentricity and controversial outspokenness.Patton was commissioned in the U.S. Army after his graduation from...

  • Elvis Presley
    Elvis Presley
    Elvis Aaron Presley was one of the most popular American singers of the 20th century. A cultural icon, he is widely known by the single name Elvis. He is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King"....

  • Douglas MacArthur
    Douglas MacArthur
    General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was an American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army. He was a Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the...

  • Marc Mitscher
    Marc Mitscher
    Admiral Marc Andrew "Pete" Mitscher was an admiral in the United States Navy who served as commander of the Fast Carrier Task Force in the Pacific in the latter half of World War II.-Early life and career:...

  • Eddie Slovik
    Eddie Slovik
    Edward Donald Slovik was a private in the United States Army during World War II and the only American soldier to be court-martialled and executed for desertion since the American Civil War....


Additional facilities


The headquarters of the U.S. Army Human Resource Command
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 is currently located on the same lot as the Military Personnel Records Center in Overland, Missouri
Overland, Missouri
Overland is a city in St. Louis County, Missouri, United States. The population was 16,062 at the 2010 census.-Geography:Overland is located at ....

. The two buildings are physically connected by large access hallways. The General Services Administration
General Services Administration
The General Services Administration is an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1949 to help manage and support the basic functioning of federal agencies. The GSA supplies products and communications for U.S...

 also maintains a third, much smaller building, which is connected to the National Personnel Records Center and serves as a cafeteria
Cafeteria
A cafeteria is a type of food service location in which there is little or no waiting staff table service, whether a restaurant or within an institution such as a large office building or school; a school dining location is also referred to as a dining hall or canteen...

 and recreation facility.

In 2005, the BRAC
Base Realignment and Closure
Base Realignment and Closure is a process of the United States federal government directed at the administration and operation of the Armed Forces, used by the United States Department of Defense and Congress to close excess military installations and realign the total asset inventory to reduce...

 project announced the closure of the Army Human Resource Command, however HRC continues to operate a large number of offices out of its St. Louis headquarters, even though most of HRC has now transferred to Fort Knox, Kentucky.

External links