We, of the Heritage League, are dedicated to the preservation of the military records of our veterans. These documents in of themselves have no real meaning until you can see how one man’s record might connect him to units, awards and decorations. Since the loss of so many veteran’s records in the 1973 Fire at the Military Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO, it becomes more important to preserve the records that are out there. Records dating back to World War I and 80% of the World War II personnel records (H – Z inclusive) were either burned or water damaged during the fight to put the fire out.
Curing the war all of the veterans’ were given a copy of special orders and general orders when they were transferred between units. There would be movement orders when units were ordered overseas (see example #1); General Orders when a person was decorated (see example #2); or Special Orders for when an airman was transferred in or out of a unit (see example #3).
Some of the records available from the National Archives are the crew load lists. When a mission is scheduled, depending on the number of squadrons and planes a bomb group is supposed to fly, rosters of the available crews will be reviewed and selected crews will be assigned. The squadron maintenance officer will identify which planes are repaired and ready to go. A formation sheet will indicate the position of each of the planes for the day’s mission. The formation sheet will show the pilot’s name, radio call letter, last three numbers of the plane’s serial number, and what squadron was providing the plane that day. It was noy unusual for a crew from, say the 700th bomb squadron, to fly in a plane from the 703rd bomb squadron.
These examples are the briefest touch to what’s stored in the National Archives in College Park, MD and other military research facilities. As the scope of the contents of Record Group 18 (World War II Army Air Force records) will take years to digitize, the Heritage League wants to get a jump on those efforts. Many of you might possibly have some of the records of a family member who flew with one of the fourteen bomb groups that made up the Second Air Division. If you do, we have a special request – please scan those pages and send them either to Chris Clark or Mike Simpson. You can either attach them to an email message or contact us directly by email for an address to snail mail a copy.