The Pentagon says the payroll records of "numerous service members," including former First Lt. George W. Bush, were ruined in 1996 and 1997 by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service while trying to salvage deteriorating microfilm, the New York Times reported Friday.
No paper copies could be found, it added in notices dated June 25.
A Denver spokesman for the service said the destruction occurred as the office was trying to unspool 2,000-foot rolls of fragile microfilm. That spokesman also said he did not know how many records were lost or why the loss had not been announced before.
The destroyed records cover three months in 1972 and 1973 when Bush's claims of service in Alabama have been repeatedly questioned.