Military Records to Show How Luminaries Served; National Archives to Allow Public Access

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Byline: Jennifer Harper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Psychedelic-guitar man Jimi Hendrix, soul singer Marvin Gaye, Desi "Ricky Ricardo" Arnaz and actor Steve McQueen, newsman Edward R. Murrow, "Dragnet" detective Jack Webb - military veterans all.

Who knew?

The nation now will be afforded some unique insight into these former servicemen and 144 other "persons of exceptional prominence" who served in the military.

For the first time, their official service records will be opened to the public, the National Archives & Records Administration announced yesterday. The records of 1.2 million enlisted men and women who served in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps from 1885 to 1935 also will be made public.

The roster includes Elvis Presley and folk singer Barry Sadler, actors Clark Gable and Vic Morrow, pilots Eddie Rickenbacker and Charles Lindbergh, boxers Rocky Marciano and Joe Louis, plus baseball heroes Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente and Hank Greenberg.

"These records are full of history, but they're also very personal. They contain biographies, performance reports, duty assignments, nominations for medals," said Barry McGraw, director of archival programs at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC).

Located in St. Louis, the facility houses 2 million cubic feet of the nation's civil service and military records - the equivalent of eight football fields.

"Some of these records are just a few pages long, some quite lengthy. They begin with the moment this person entered the service to the moment they left it," Mr. McGraw said. …