Posted in Artifacts, eVetRecs, Military, National Archives, National Personnel Records Center, Research tips, World War 1

“Burned” WWI Personnel File for Allen Lee Millard Gooch

Using the online eVetRecs at the National Archives website I ordered a World War I service record for my grandfather, Allen Lee Millard Gooch.  I knew my chances of getting a file were slim because in 1973 a fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri, destroyed 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF), including 80% of personnel discharged 1 Nov 1912-1 Jan 1960.

Indeed, I received a reply to my request that said my requested records were part of the 1973 fire.  I was sad.  Then, amazingly, I received a thick packet with much, or possibly all, of my grandfather’s file with copies of the “burned” records!  Here is a page:

This record–an “Application for Certificate in Lieu of Lost or Destroyed Discharge Certificate”–proves that you never know just where you will find some of the best information.  This record provides us with:

  1. Full name
  2. Place/date of enlistment and discharge
  3. Military unit
  4. Physical description
  5. City and State of birth
  6. Approximate birth year
  7. Probable residence after discharge
  8. Occupation
  9. Signature

This is only one of many pages in this record, and the others are equally interesting.  I may post some more soon.

This record also proves you should never give up just because you are told a repository burned.  Yes, the records burned, but hey—not entirely!!  Let’s hear it for the 42 fire districts that responded to the alarm and battled the blaze for 2 days.


I received an unexpected bonus one day when a box containing replacement medals for my grandfather’s WWI service arrived in the mail:  A Purple Heart, a WWI Victory Medal, and a medal for his participation in the battles of Meuse-Argonne and St. Mihiel.  What a treasure!  I will post photos soon.

To learn more about the Military service records and Official Military Personnel Files go to

Pre-WWI military records can be ordered here:

Posted in Letters, World War 1

“The sights I have saw is worth a million” and “…there will be no capturing me as a prisoner”

These images were loaded in reverse order, so start at the bottom right to read them…

6th letter in a series.  To read the others click here:  1   2   3   4   5

[Letter from Pvt. Allen Lee Millard (“Nig”) Gooch to his family in Duncan, Arizona, written during World War I, 22 Jun or Jul 1918 at Hemptead, N.Y.  Transcribed by Dayna Gooch Jacobs. Slashes indicate page breaks. Original spelling and punctuation.]

Hemstead, N.Y.

6 p.m. Saturday 22  [Jun or Jul 1918]

Dear Parents,

Received two letters/ from you in the past/ few days and was/ awfly glad to get/ them.  I am now in/ Hemstead on a pass/ there is about a dozen/ towns alond the south/ east side of this/ Island and I have/ seen most of them/ today don’t have to/ go back to camp/ until 10 oclock tomorrow./  Oh how I wish you/ was here to see the/ sights the pretty homes/ and parks.  This is/ a wonderful place. So/ much different from the/ west and a very nice/ climate.  But give me/ cactus and the west./  We boys don’t get/ along with these people/ for they laugh/ at us when we talk/ and we can hardly/ understand them.  But/ they sure are good/ to us at that.  And/ I had rather stay here/ than in Kansas for/ the wind and sand/ never blows it s allways/ cool and nice.  Havent/  heard an more about/ moving.  But cant think/ we will go over for awhile./

Mother I think you/ will get your alotment/ next month and I/ had it sent to the/ Phoenix address so you/ had better write Cap/ to watch out for it/ or have it sent to/ you from the post/ master./

Yes you can send/ Grant my clothes if/ you like.  Poor kid./  I guess he needs them./  Yes I have written/ Sis and Bob and sent/ Cap a few cards with/ my address.  Will write/ her soon./

Well I guess Doll has/ blowed up.  I haven’t/ heard from her/ since I came here/ only letters she/ written to funston./  I got a letter from/ Jessie Sanders sayin/ Doll was not at home/ and didnt know when/ she was coming home./  Also said they expected/ her to be married/ in California the last/ of July.  Now I don’t/ know what to think/ if that hardly.  There/ is some thing wrong/ some where.  I think/ it a put up job in/ a way.  But I cant/ see why she doesn’t/  write.  For she surly/ has got my address/ and could get me a/ letter some way./  Any way she knows/ what she wants to do/ so I wont loose much/ sleep.  Of course I like/ her, and I know they/ are trying to split/ us up.  But she should/ have let me know/ she was leaving./  And if she has found/ someone else she likes/ better, he’s the guy for/ her.  This letter from/ Jessie was written the/ 13th,  I answered it with/ a very friendly letter/ and spoke of Doll/ very little.  So if they/ are working us some/ way they wont get far/ with me.  I have some/ friends in Duncan/ yet.  And if she lets/ them work her ____ well/ she isn’t the girl for/ me. I have enough to/ worry about allready./  So I will leave it all/ up to her and when I/ come back I will know/ all before goeing farther/ with her./

Now mother you/ musnt feel so/ blue and worried about/ me for if I cant be/ with you I am perfectly/ satisfied.  Am having/ a good time when I/ feel like it and the/ sights I have saw/ is worth a million./  This letter will have to/ do you all this time.  And/ I will go take in another/ town.  Tell dear old dad/ that if I get a chance/ I will go over the top/ with the same old/ smile I allways wore/ and there will be no/ capturing me as a prisoner./  We ware a tag around/ our neck that would/ identifie us if killed./

Love to all,

Chears Nig

Posted in World War 1

“I went out of my tent and saw about twenty flying machines”

5th letter in a series.  To see other letters click: 1, 2, 3, 4

[Letter from Private Allen L. Gooch to his family in Arizona during World War I.  Transcribed by Dayna Gooch Jacobs and in her possession. Slashes indicate line breaks on original letter.]

Friday 7. 18

[probably June 7, 1918]

Mother and All,

Well we stoped/ at last, sure saw/ some sights on/ the road, Sailed/ about twenty five/ miles down the/ Hudson bay.  We/ are here waiting/ for more equipment/ such as shoes and/ sixshooters.  Soon/ as we get them we/ will go over, it/ may a week/ and it may be/ a month. But/

[p 2]  mother I don’t/ dread it as I/ thought I would/ it seams so/ much different/ than I thought/ for, every boy in/ this camp that/ I talk with wants/ to go and cant/ hardly wait for/ the time, we got/ here last night/ and it went to/ raining rained/ untill about 4 oclock./  This eve I went to/ sleep about two/ was so tired from/ such long ride,/ I dreamed I was/

[3] in Duncan with/ doll under a large/ tree watching some/ flying machines./  And one turned to/ a bird came down/ and set near my/ head, I awoke and/ I heard an aufal/ noise all was out/ side and the sun/ was shining.  I went/ out of my tent and/ saw about twenty/ flying machines/ some was about/ one hundred feet/ from the ground/

[4] others was so high/ they looked like/ birds.  I have/ been watching one/ particular one all/ eve.  He sure can/ pull off some/ stunts.  I also saw/ all kinds of ships/ passed under the/ Brooklyn bridge/ and three others/ almost as large./  This friend of mine/ from hachita is/ a sergeant in my/ troop he is getting/ me a twenty four/ hour pass and I/ am goeing to N.Y./ City tomorrow And/

[5] take in the sights./  I wont have time/ when I come back/ through on my/ way home.  I don’t/ know when that will be.  But I am/ sure it will come./  I am satisfied very/ well with my troop/ don’t think there is/ a department I would/ like better.  So/ don’t worry about/ me and write soon./  I may get mail/ here before we/

[p 6] over.  Will write you when I leave.  And as soon as you get a card that my ship has landed then you can write me using this ad—  Private Allen L. Gooch Troop A, 314th Military Police, 89th Division.  American Expeditionnary Forces.

Will close with best wishes

Guess you will get the allotment next month.

Tell all goodbye for me and be good


Troop A 314th Military Police

89th Division

Camp Mills, New York

Posted in Letters, World War 1

“Write me offen I am a little homesick…”

Here is another in a series of letters I am posting, from Private Allen L. M. Gooch to his family back home in Arizona during World War I.  This letter was written while he was still in training at Funston, Kansas, but we begin to see indicators that he will soon ship out…

To see other letters click here: 1 2 3

[Transcription of letter from Private Allen L. M. Gooch to his parents, 29 May 1918, Camp Funston, Kansas, letter in possession of Dayna Gooch Jacobs, King City, California.  Envelope missing. Might actually be two different letters, with the second beginning on page two below.  Slashes in the transcription indicate page breaks.]

Funston, Kans

May 29. 18

Dear Mother,

Your letter of the/ 26th received this morning/ and as we are not/ doeing any thing I will/ answer it rained all/ [crease in paper – illegible] night and we wont do much today/ we turned in our horses/ Monday packed our/ saddles and all/ equipments are getting/ ready for a move./ expect to leave soon/ after the first.  But/ have no idea where/ we will go.  This troop/ expects to go to France/ in the near future/

[back of page] as they are real/ trained/ and fully equipped./  But I don’t/ dread it near as/ much as I thought/ I would, for there is/ not so much danger/ in our line of duty/ every boy in this/ troop is crazy to/ go and I had just/ [crease in paper – illegible] Of course you know/ how bad I hate to/ leave you all.  And/ had much rather be/ with you.  But I am/ here till the war is/ over and ready to/ do my duty what ever/ it may be.  The only/ thing I dread is getting/ over there.

I am very glad you [page missing]

[page two.  This may be from an entirely different letter, as the folds in the paper are different.  Also, the previous page appears to be continued on a different page, but this one is numbered “2”, and there is no writing on the backs of pages 2-4.   The pages were found together so I am transcribing them together for now.]

I taken out a ten/ thousand dollar insurance/ today. Costs me $6.65 per/ month, if I get killed/ you and daddy will/ draw $57.50 per month/ for twenty years./

I also got the allotment/ which takes $15.00 of my/ wages the government/ gives you ten apiece/ so you will get a/ check for $35.00 per month./  So I am satisfied now/ $7.35 will be my wages/ and that is all I kneed/

[page 3]  if I don’t get to work./  But I think I will/ get to work when I/ get back to the barricks/ which will be about/ ten days I think.  Will/ get 75 per cent of what/ I make and get out/ of some of this hard work.

There has been one/ boy die from this/ Co. from knocklation/ and there is several/ in the hospital.  I am/ standing it fine except/ my left ankle is/

[page 4] very weak and sore./  But guess I will get/ over that./

Had my picture taken/ last night.  Am sending/ you one.  Send one/ to Bob and tell him/ to write.  That I will/ write him when I get/ time.  Write me offen/ I am a little home sick/ tell hazel to write if she/ likes. And give her a/ picture./

Yours with love,

Private Allen L.M. Gooch

47th Co. 164th DB

Detantion Camp #2

Funston, Kans.

Posted in Letters, Military, World War 1

“…Can throw a captain in the guard house if we see fit…”

This is third in a series of 14 letters I will be posting—letters which were written by WWI Private Allen Lee Millard (“Nig”) Gooch to his family back home in Duncan, Arizona.

To read other letters in the series click below:

1    2    3    4   5    6    7    8    9    10    11    12    13    14

[Letter from Pvt. Allen Lee Millard (“Nig”) Gooch to his family in Duncan, Arizona, written 18 May 1918 at Funston, Kansas.  Transcribed by Dayna Gooch Jacobs. Slashes indicate page breaks. Original spelling and punctuation.]

May 18, 1918

Troop A 314th M.P.

Funston, Kans

Dear Mother and All,

Well as I have changed/ my address had better write/ you again.  Have been/ looking for a letter from/ you for the past week/ have only got one/ since I have been gone/  I was transferred Friday/ to the Military Police/ [p2] troops and I think I will/ like it fine consider/ myself lucky for every/ one in the 34th Co./ went to the infantry/ but me. The M.P./ are the army Police/ they guard camp, street/ car lines and towns/ for twenty miles/ around just like/ police in a city/ and one good thing/ [p3] if we are on guard/ we are boss.  Can throw/ a captian in the guard/ house if we see fit/ or any other man except [President] Wilson.  When/ we drill we are mounted/ I will get a horse tomorrow/ I think.  When on guard/ we cary a pistol and/ a club and a rifle/ when mounted.  In France/ we will guard the/ [p4] soldiers camps and/ prisoners, also do/ scouting.  We are here/ in Funston in nice/ barrick’s it is far/ more comfortable than/ those tents.  They all/ seam to think we/ will leave here soon./  But have no idea/ where we will go./  I have been having/ a time with my ankles/ they gave away about/ [page 5 missing]

[page 6]… for miles with/ soldiers and weman/ as today is visitors/ you friends can/ come and eat dinner/ with you and go/ most any where/ if the M.P.s will let you pass./

I saw so many/ mothers wives and, sweethearts walking/ [p7] around with tears/ in their eyes that/ I had to come back/ to the barrack.  I thought/ of many things that/ there is no use to/ mention.

All of the boys in this/ troop seem to be/ content and are very/ good natured.  There/ is several here from/ New Mexico that/ [p8] say they know me/ but I don’t remember/ them.  There is one/ here that I know/ well from Hachita/ he is a orderly/ sergeant in this troop/ and I am glad of it/ he said any time I/ wanted a twenty four/ hour pass to let him/ know.  Well I written/ such long letter to/ doll [his girlfriend] that I am tired./ [p8] [sic]  Will close and write/ more latter.  As I know/ theres a letter from you/ at detention camp.  They/ will transfer it soon/ I guess.  Tell the girls/ to write offen and/ don’t worry about me.

Love to all


Private Allen L. M. Gooch

Troop A 314th M.P.

Funston, Kans.