Tuesday, May 8, 2012

65. World War II Bonus Microfilm


            In March 1949 the State Legislature of Indiana, after the citizens approved a referendum,  awarded a bonus to any Hoosier military veteran who served at least 30 days in the military between December 7, 1941, and November 2, 1945.
            Vets received $10 for each month of service in the U.S. and $15 for each month overseas with a minimum of $30 and a maximum of $600. The next of kin of veterans who died while in the service received the maximum of $600. Disabled vets also received the maximum.
            Veterans had to fill out an application form (since destroyed) and present a copy of their Discharge form to claim the bonus. About the only thing to survive from this process are some microfilmed index cards in the Indiana State Archives.
            The Archives has 63 rolls of 16mm film, titled “Alphabetical Index to WW2 Bonus Applications,” evidently prepared by the Auditor of the State. These cards (since destroyed) and the film contain names, addresses, bonus application numbers, military serial numbers, and county of enlistment. A few cards have handwritten address updates. [Warning: The filming is terrible and lots of cards are so fuzzy they are nearly illegible.]
            A second small series of eight films contain information on deceased veterans. Three rolls have an alphabetical index by veteran, three rolls have an alphabetical index by next of kin, and two rolls have a numerical index by bonus number. Most of these are also fuzzy, except for the numerical index (someone wore their new glasses that day!) I would advise finding the bonus number on the fuzzy film and then use the numerical set to make copies.
            These cards do not contain a great amount of information, but sometimes a little is better than nothing. The military serial numbers can be very useful when writing to the National Personnel Records Center. Even if the personnel files were among the burned ones, they might be able to reconstruct some data.
            Too bad the state trashed the bonus applications themselves. (Don’tcha love Indiana!)

PUBLISHED IN HONOR OF V-E DAY, MAY 8, 1945, AND MY UNCLE ART DARRAH, WHO FOUGHT IN THE ARMY FROM NORMANDY TO GERMANY. 

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