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Tips for Advanced Military Records Research on Fold3

Military records are a rich resource for genealogical and historical research. They are advanced records, meaning that unlike vital records that push the door wide open with a neatly packaged birth and death dates, military records sometimes require you enter through the side window! Once you find records, they provide a rich and powerful narrative of military service. At Fold3, we find similar questions posed repeatedly by researchers and hope to answer a few of them here:

Sam Carlson, US Navy – WWI

Military Records for Service After 1957: Due to the Privacy Act, these records are only available to the veteran or next-of-kin from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC). On Fold3, we have selected records and photographs from recent wars along with powerful content available on personal Memorials.

The 1973 Fire at the NPRC: On July 12, 1973, a massive fire broke out at the NPRC in St. Louis, MO. It burned for 22 hours and destroyed 16-18 million military files. Records affected included 80% of Army files for Personnel discharged between November 1912 – January 1960; and 75% of Air Force files for Personnel discharged September 1947 – January 1964. No duplicate copies of these records were ever maintained. These lost records certainly present a roadblock, but other available record sets can help you construct a military history.

Widow’s Pension File
Benjamin W. Hallett – War of 1812

For example, if you are searching for a WWII veteran, you might search for records like Unit Histories, Missing Air Crew Reports, Draft Registration Cards, WWII Diaries or Air Force photos. Keep in mind that until 1947, the US Air Force was part of the US Army (United States Army Air Force – USAAF).

Navy Muster Rolls recorded the movements of troops on transport ships even if they didn’t serve in Navy; and if you know the infantry regiment or battalion your ancestor served in, that information can also open research avenues.

Amazing records are available in our collections of Casualty Lists, European Theater Army Records or user-contributed information found on Memorial pages among others. In addition, soldiers were asked to file discharge documents in the county where they resided. Contacting county records departments might also unlock a roadblock. Good luck with your military records research! Fold3 has over five hundred million military records available online to help. Visit Fold3 today!

Do you have a Unit History or a military yearbook? At Fold3, we love to collect these records. They are a rich, detailed source of military service. If you have one, we can digitize it and return it to you intact. Please reach out to us at [email protected].

168 Comments

  1. The NPRC is a joke. I’ve had them tell me records don’t exist for those not affected by the 1973 fire. I have requested all of my records from them and they told me I have to ask for specific documents because they will not send “all records.” I asked how am I supposed to know what they have.

    Each time I requested something specific they kept sending me the same thing they sent before. I think they lost most of my records, but fortunately I saved many of mine when I was in the Army and still have them including my pay stubs and orders which they will not give you. Also, they say all medical records are held at the VA. Lie. The VA claims the NPRC has them. Typical government passing the buck.

    • Medical records are only held at the VA if the veteran has received medical care there especially if it is a service connected issue.
      Six months after I applied for a WWII vet’s service records I was told they were in the fire. For a fee of $75 they would search the records that they had digitally saved after the fire. I received those files (some 75 pages) in about two weeks. The copies did show considerable fire damage but most were totally readable as most of the damage was to one edge of each sheet.

    • Contact your local state Senators Veteran Liason. They will send you paperwork allowing them to get you what you need. There are no Military Medical Records or any other Military records stored with the VA. If you don’t have your DD214 the Senators office can request that for you as well.

    • They told me that my records were lost in the 1973 fire. I did not enlist until 1992 and wasn’t even born until 1974!

    • We normally send extracts to veterans depending on the branch of service. If you haven’t received an Extract..which are all the important documents in a personnel file…and are looking for something specific you should tell us what you are looking for? When you request EVERYTHING from your record, please realize, that General Orders, NCO evals, etc..have to be redacted..other peoples PII might and are listed and those documents have to be manually redacted so they charge a fee and depending on the size of the record that fee COULD be substantial..the cost is 75 cents per page and $13.50 per hour..depending on the size of the record that could cost a pretty penny. So, if you KNOW what you are looking for..state that and the technician will look for it.

    • My family has been told for years that my father!s records from WWII had been lost in the fire. I was also told years later that my husbands records from the Vietnam Nam era suffered the same fate. However, went to the Military Records National Archives web site in St. Louis MO and spoke with a woman who said all of the records had not been destroyed. Many of the records were potentially contaminated with mold. I filled out a request and paid $75 and was sent all of my father’s records that they had. The fee was high because the records had to be specially processed to protect the employee’s health.

      Susan

    • Contract Lori Miller at Redbird Research she can help you get your records.

      [email protected]

      She has got dozens of records for me.it is wroth the money. Good Luck

    • Thank you! I think I would love her job! Too bad I’m in Santa Fe and not in St. louis. I love records digging and other kinds of research.

  2. Here in Maine many veterans filed their DD214s with the Town Clerk where they resided. Checking residence Town offices may help.

  3. I am the next-of-kin to a cousin killed by friendly fire in WWIi Iceland. I would like to know about the incident involving one soldier. I have not been able to get a response from anyone because, apparently, I am not considered next-of-kin. How do I prove this?

    • As a cousin, you are not considered next of Kin at all. If he has a wife or children they can request information, but they will have to prove next of kin status through connection to service members DD214, they can use birth certs. And spouses can use marriage license.

    • This is of interest to me as my father served in Iceland 1955-57. . I am try to get any info as well . He was in the Air Force .
      Regards , Darcy
      716-628-9478 Ny

    • That should not be the case because if he were killed in WWII, that would be an archival record and ANYONE can order and receive that record but they must pay a fee. The cost for separation documents/Casualty reports..you get that if a person dies while in service…would be $25. If you want the whole record it is $70. The more information you can give the easier it will be to locate that record. WWII they used service numbers..and depending on whether they were an officer or an enlisted man..you might have to provide his/her service number..which you can find on any document they might have

  4. Where would I write for pensions for the Civil War for a wife?

    • National Archives has Civil War records. Check their website.

      Fold3.com CW military and pension records online. This includes pension records for wife. Pension applications have a lot of information.

    • You can try your state archives for Civil War pension records, both North and South.

    • Hello Frances,
      Almost all Union and Confederate Pensions for the soldiers, sailors and widows are online, now. Each state’s Department of Archives and History maintains those. Google search “Union Civil War Pension Records” or “Confederate Civil War Pension Records” for the state of service. For example: “Mississippi Confederate Civil War Pension Records”. Some states house those in their State Libraries. Fold3.com is an excellent resource as is Ancestry.com for Civil War service and pension records. A search of the veteran’s name will also bring up the widow’s pensions, as well, since his name is on the pension application. I am a professional genealogist and retired US Army senior NCO. Have been a researcher for about 40 years, now, from the French and Indian Wars thru the Gulf War.

    • Mississippi Confederate pension applications are online. It takes awhile to go through the pages and not the easiest to print out well. But I found them for my great grandfather, one of his brothers and two sisters in law. I found out the latter two had some 10 children between them.

    • Mississippi Confederate Veteran’s and Widow’s Pensions are on Ancestry.com and are searchable by name. The images are high quality,unlike what is available on the Mississippi Department of Archives and History site. The documents on Ancestry.com are from the Mississippi site but much more user friendly. I am a resident of Mississippi and a long time Civil War historian. I strongly recommend the small fee to use Ancestry.com for their high quality documents downloads over the Mississippi site.

    • Wonder if we’re related? My family lived between Brookhaven and Monticello in Lawrence County. Confederate Army records are easy to find but their Navy records (muster rolls) are extremely problematic in finding anything. Any suggestions?

    • Hello Hiram,
      If you are a Patterson we could very well be. Fold3.com is the best source for Confederate Navy records. The Confederate Navy was a very sketchy thing. It was never very well established, in the Confederacy, and was very numerically small, as compared to the Army. Based on this, there was not a powerful of influential officer corp in the Confederate Navy.

      1SG Sam

    • I’m doing research for a friend. An obit for his g, g, gather says he was a Confederate Navy Captain but it says he was cited for his bravery by General Hindman. So far the only records I found were for ex-Union officers who resigned and transferred to the Confederate side. I suspect his relative could have been an honorary title like Colonel Sanders or he could have commanded a small craft. Lousiana records show he was not Army.

    • Hello Hiram,
      Major General Thomas C. Hindman commanded the Trans-Mississippi Department for a period of time. The command was lacking when he assumed command and control. His command was located in Arkansas where he was defending against an invasion into eastern Arkansas by Samuel Curtis. General Hindman was no non-sense and whipped his command into shape using harsh measures. As commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department, he would have commanded all Confederate naval forces in the theater. Those naval forces would have been focused on West Memphis and Helena, AR and Vicksburg, MS and points, south. His early command was centered at Little Rock, AR. East Arkansas had an extensive network of navigable waterways connecting to the Mississippi River. Those waterways were mostly free of Union control and a safe haven for Confederate Navy operations against Memphis, TN and the Mississippi River port cities. Your friend’s ancestor would have commanded a Confederate man of war, in battle, to have attracted the attention of General Hindman.

    • Thanks Sam. This may help. This was an active center of river combat support from New Orleans where this man was from up to southern Missouri.

    • Looking for Robt. K King who took a ball in the knee and his father Robt. W. King known to be involved… ‘Sent a lithograph copy with Robt. King listed to Folds. Hello, Helen Bell

  5. If you are not a direct NOK, you can still get limited records on a relative, not just the full blown record. I have yet to tried it for a late uncle who received a Bronze Star for action at the Battle of the Bulge.

  6. But if there are no remaining next-of-kin, how would anyone ever see the full record? I do have the brief “public” record for my cousin, but that is all that anyone will see now, apparently, because nobody asked for the full record when there were still NOK to do that.

    • I checked the website for the records and see that public access is a “rolling date” based on when a service member was discharged. Since my cousin died in 1964, I guess I have to wait until 2026 to get the records. Hope I make it!

    • Hello Leslie,
      Tell me everything that you have from your cousin’s “brief public record”. I see that he passed away in 1964. Based on his year of death, one would assume that he was not a Vietnam Veteran but my assumption could be wrong. My great uncle David was wounded in 1959 in Vietnam and received his 4th Purple Heart Medal for being wounded, there. He was a WWII, Korean War and Vietnam Veteran. We were in Vietnam before the Korean War ended in 1953. See my posts to B.J. Harbach below. What makes no sense to you is a wealth of information, to me. I can take these and develop a concise history for your relative and help you understand his service. I am thrilled that so many people want to learn about their family’s military histories. I would like very much to help you with your cousin’s record. All military records before 1958 are accessible to anyone regardless of next to kin status. Our government stinks on ice but our soldiers, sailors, marines airmen and their families are what it is all about.

      1SG Sam
      Good hunting!

      P.S. You have a very strong Scottish name.
      My wife is a Stewart descendant.
      Look into that. You may be amazed with what you find!

    • Sam, I really appreciate all the help you’ve been providing to everyone on this blog post.
      My cousin (on my mother’s side, so married name of Stewart is no help) was Allan Dohm, service No 390 67 76. He served in the US Army Reserves between Sept 1958 and Sept 1963, including active duty from Sept 1958 to Sept 1960, and Oct 1961 to Aug 1962. Then he enlisted in the Navy (records show this enlistment was Sept 19, 1963, the day after he left the USAR) and served until he died on June 25, 1964. This is from the “Information Releasable under the Freedom of Information Act” form. Duty status is Killed in Action.
      I also received a History of Assignments for his Navy service, showing he went from Seattle where he re-enlisted in 1963, to SSC, USNTC, SDIEGO, CALIF a month later (RECDUINS, duties Student 54ARM SN, RMSN) and transferred from there 15 May 1964. Last entry is 4 Jun 64, RECDUT, NAVCOMMSTA, GUAM, M.I. (duties: OF RATE RMSN). All the other blanks on these forms are filled in with either the same info (as appropriate) or N/A. These don’t even show his place of burial (which I happen to know is Golden Gate National Cemetery in Daly City, CA, very close to me but nowhere near either his home town or his parents’ home at the time).
      I simply don’t know how much more there might be. He served in a relatively peaceful era, for only a few years. But I would like to find out if there is any more info on how he died (family story and I don’t have any documents from his parents or sister) is that he was “outed” as gay, given a pistol and told to “take the honorable way out.” If true, this certainly wouldn’t be in the records as such, but it may not be true. He was quite a bit older than I and we lived on opposite sides of the country at the time, so I have very little to go on other than family from my mother’s generation, most of whom are gone. His sister is also deceased and he died before most of her children were born, so no help there.
      I’d also like more info, if any, on what he did and where while on active duty with the USAR.

    • Hello Leslie,
      Lets look at these terms and their definitions and implications. First, and very important, “Killed in Action”. Killed in action (KIA) is a casualty classification generally used by militaries to describe the deaths of their own combatants at the hands of hostile forces. The United States Department of Defense, for example, says that those declared KIA need not have fired their weapons but have been killed due to hostile attack. KIAs do not come from incidents such as accidental vehicle crashes and other “non-hostile” events or terrorism. KIA can be applied both to front-line combat troops and to naval, air and support troops. Someone who is killed in action during a particular event is denoted with a † (dagger) beside their name to signify their death in that event or events. Further, KIA denotes one to have been killed in action on the battlefield whereas died of wounds (DOW) relates to someone who survived to reach a medical treatment facility. Your cousin was killed in battle!
      Lets look at his job and last duty station. His job descriptor was ” OF RATE RMSN” He was a Radioman, Seaman Striker. His rating was “2nd Class” making him a non-commissioned officer, pay grade E-5. An E-5 in the Army is a sergeant. “Striker” designates “on the job training”
      His last duty station was “RECDUT, NAVCOMMSTA, GUAM, M.I.” “RECDUT” means “Received for Duty”. “NAVCOMMSTA” means “Navy Communications Station”. “GUAM” is the island of Guam. “M.I” means “Monitoring and Intercept”. His base was a communications hub for routine fleet communications traffic and there was, also, a covert element to this station. They were listening to everyone and everything; North Vietnam, North Korea, Laos, Cambodia and the USSR. The station had the most advanced, high powered computers in the world, at the time. As a radioman in the Navy, your cousin had the potential to have gone anywhere a radioman was needed on any Navy operations. This would include naval craft, ships or naval aircraft. Of these three, naval aircraft had the highest casualties in 1964 over Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. In 1964 there were 206 KIA’s and war related deaths in Vietnam. The US Navy began conducting combat flight operations in Vietnam and Laos in 1964. The Navy began “SAR” Search and Rescue flight operations on 6 June, 1964. Between 6 June, 1964 and 1 November 1968, 26 SAR crewmen were killed, wounded, missing, or made prisoner, and 33 aircraft were destroyed during SAR operations. The SAR aircraft were large planes with multiple crew, including radiomen. Not saying that this is what he did, just, that it is a good example of a possible duty assignment. Another example: 6 and 7 June, 1964- The Pathet Lao shot down two American reconnaissance planes over Laos. President Johnson authorized an air strike against a Pathet Lao anti-aircraft battery. For sure, he was not killed on Guam. That was a rear support area and no hostilities occurred there.
      One thing that I am sure of, is that Allan’s death had a Laos or Cambodia connection. I was an Army Recruiter and Special Forces Recruiter in the early 1990’s. I dealt with dozens of prior service Vietnam veterans for enlistment back into the Army. Most had Cambodia and Laos combat time. Their records were heavily redacted. I asked the first veteran, that I saw this with, why his record was blacked out. When he looked, he replied “Oh, that’s when I was in Cambodia”. The US government absolutely denied that we were in Laos and Cambodia. The following is a message on a veterans site from a guy who was stationed at your cousins duty station, just after him, where he is reaching out to other buddies for information: 1967 – 1968 “I worked operations as assistant supervisor and would like to contact my Division officer Lieutenant (Name redacted by me-Sam) to verify actions that do not exist on paper”. Spooky things were afoot there.
      Thousands of servicemen were denied their Purple Hearts and disability claims who were wounded or injured in Laos and Cambodia. If shot or wounded in Laos or Cambodia, the service member’s medical records were destroyed before the ink dried on them. My wife’s uncle suffered an AK-47 gunshot wound to his left arm on patrol in Cambodia in 1969. The round blew the bottom of his upper arm muscle completely away. I helped him get his Purple Heart and Bronze Star w/ “V” Device for Valor in 2011 after getting his Senator involved. He spent 6 month at Walter Reed Army Hospital. Every combat theater and US Stateside medical record disappeared- Nada-Nothing!! The fact that Allan’s place of death is not on the record is very telling by it’s absence. If Allan was on a classified operation, his place of death would not be shown, as well. When confirmed, his name should be added to the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall. The Joint Services Incident Database would contain his complete record. The VA uses that database to confirm that an incident actually occurred when a veteran lists it in a disability claim for disability benefits and he has no records for proof. This database can only be accessed by a Congregational representative or Senator. Most likely, his record from that data base has been retired and is housed at the National Archives but is still not openly accessible. A FOIA request has to be filed to get the record. The request requires an exact date. You have that and all of the other information that they will require. I can get you the service address to file the FOIA if you need it. I had to go through that process to get my records from being wounded in a terrorist attack. My record from the 80’s had been retired.

      As to the suicide story, that is bunk. His KIA record blows that out of the water. Second, he would have never been buried in the cemetery that he is in. Dishonorable acts ruled out burials in military cemeteries, then. They were very serious back then. I was the NCOIC of the Fort Riley, Kansas Honor Guard and Burial Detail for six months after the Panama Invasion. I buried most of the KIA’s from that operation, all over the US. For one funeral, we were detailed to bury a USMC 1st Lieutenant with a distinguished Vietnam war record but a dishonorable personal life. He had been married to several women, simultaneously. He was court marshaled and dishonorably discharged. His family requested a military funeral with full honors from the VA. He was denied burial in a military cemetery by direct order of the Commandant of the US Marine Corps. I received a call at my hotel prior to the funeral. The voice on the other end of the phone was the Commandant of the Marine Corps. I almost passed out. He barked “You listen and you listen good, Sergeant! I have ordered that individual’s family, that absolutely under no circumstances, is that disgraced officer to be buried in a USMC uniform or to have a USMC Anchor and Globe displayed anywhere on his person. Because of his outstanding combat record, I will allow him to be buried with his awards and decorations, on an appropriate civilian suit. If that order is violated, you load up your people and depart.” He called me again at the funeral home to verify that his orders had been followed to the letter. They did not play, back in the day. They will most likely not release his record, to you. Tell your Congressman that you need it for verification to put his name on the Wall. That will generate press coverage and Congressman love that. Let me know if you need additional.

      Good hunting,
      1SG Sam

    • Bless you, Sam!

      In 1964 I was just graduating from college and barely aware of the war (although it rapidly became a big issue as friends were drawn into the military or worried about the draft), so I hadn’t picked up on the fact that Guam was a staging area for those flights.

      I will definitely follow up on this. My Congressman is a personal friend so that part is easy. And I will give your explanation to my last surviving aunt who will be very glad to have it.

      Leslie

  7. Is it possible to research any veterans military files for historical content in order to create a unit history without being related to the veteran. The example would be to reveal dates and places of service and any awards or decorations? How can a person do research outside of being related to an individual for historical research?

  8. I need my 201 files fro Ft Bragg N C from March 3 to May 1969 from May to Auguest 1969 in Ft Ord Calif and Sept 1969 to October 16 1970 my 201 files or c files and my DD Form 214

    • Hello Wayne,
      Contact the National Personnel Records Center at https://www.archives.gov to request your DD-214 and DA-201 File. If they have any medical records, you can get those as well. I was a US Army recruiter in the 1980’s and was never unable to get any Vietnam era veteran’s DD-214 for re-enlistment purposes. Your C-File or Confidential File is a whole nother story. The VA will never give you that unless you file a FOIA or Freedom of Information Act request. All of their dirty little gangster notes are in there where they are scheming to keep veterans from getting their benefits. They have 20 days to respond, by law, to a FOIA request. Unfortunately, the VA doesn’t care about any stinking laws so, in many cases, they will blow off the FOIA request. You will need to use a VA claims attorney to file the FOIA. When they blow the attorney off, the attorney will get a federal judge to order the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs to appear, personally, before the the court to answer for the non-compliance on your FOIA request. At that point, the VA Secretary picks up the phone to that state’s VA regional center director and then, we all know what rolls down hill, except it is a dump truck sized load that lands on the VA Regional Center Director. At that point, people loose jobs for causing the VA Regional Center Director anguish and fear for his job and in a flash, your attorney will get your C-File so fast that it will have smoke coming off it.
      Good luck brother,
      1SG Sam
      100 % DAV

  9. My father William Vernon Kinney Sr served in Army and received a Purple Heart. I believe he was medically discharged in 1944. He was from Indiana and was married to Agnes Laura Bean

  10. The St.Louis NPRC was not helpful. They insisted we come to St.Louis. From California? They wanted to know what exactly we wanted. I detailed what we had, but they failed to respond. We would like to know where all the alternative, user friendly sites are. Yes we will pay for documents but first need to know what they have on my father, a WW II veteran.

    • Hello Gary,
      Tell the NPRC that you want your father’s “War Department Adjutant General’s Office- Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty”. This will provide a wealth of information for him such as dates of service, units, campaign history and medals and awards. The originals show combat actions, where under direct enemy fire, as well. You will need to provide his military serial number. If he was buried with a military headstone from the VA you can access the Department of Veteran’s Affairs BIRLs files to find his serial number. Those are on familysearch.org for free or Ancestry.com for a small subscription fee. The serial number is not the same as his social security number. The armed forces assigned each service member a serial or service number up until the 1970’s. After that, the service member used his social security number. The NPRC is overwhelmed, right now, due to having over 10 million veterans in the VA system needing records for VA disability claims. Millions of living veterans have had their medical and service records lost in the bureaucratic nightmares that are the VA and NPRC. Unfortunately, the bulk of our records are still in paper format and have never been digitized. Today, there are millions of documents wrapped in big red rubber bands and stored in caves, in Missouri, in huge piles. So much for progress. They will respond, in time. Keep at it. Thanks for your father’s service. There will never be any more like the “Old Breed” again.

      Good hunting,
      1SG Sam
      100 % DAV

    • Sorry to hear about your issues. They probably wanted to know why you needed it. If it was for benefits there is no fee. If it was for genealogical purposes their would be a fee of $70 dollars for the entire personnel file..$25 for the separation document.

  11. I have a book “Second to None” concerning the 2nd Infantry Division during the Korean Conflict. It was my father’s as he was part of it. Let me know if you need this one or if you already have it.

  12. How could I best search for records of service for my dad who was stationed in Germany in 1955? Not sure where, though. I think he falls into the bunch of records that were destroyed in the 1973 fire.

    He has a very common name. Fold3 searches come up with several records, but none with his DOB. Even the draft registrations show matching relative’s name, same city and county, but the DOB’s are way off.

    I have a post card addressed to him at the US Army Hospital, Frankfort.

    I found photos in his scrapbook of his “My tour in Germany” showing “18th Field Artillery Battalion”, and a Protestant church service program from “36th Field Artillery Group.” I don’t know any military terminology at all, so I don’t know if these two groups are related.

    Is there a way to search any of those?

    • Hello B.J.,
      I am an old 3rd Armored Division (Us Army) soldier from Germany. Your Dad would have been in the US Army 97th General Hospital in Frankfurt, West Germany in 1955. That hospital served soldiers of the 3rd Armored Division-Spearhead, 5th Corps and 7th Army. He was a member of the 18th Field Artillery Battalion of the 36th Field Artillery Group of 5th Corps, 7th Army. He was stationed at Babenhausen Kaserne in Babenhausen, Hesse, West Germany 20 miles southeast of Frankfurt, West Germany. “Kaserne” in German translates to “barracks” in English. His unit was not assigned to a division but was the artillery unit assigned to protect 5th Corps (Supreme Army Headquarters-Germany) during wartime. He was on the front lines defending the West against 5 East German divisions and 36 Soviet Divisions. One Soviet division had about 40,000 troops-Do the math. Your Dad knew, exactly, what he stood in opposition to, as far as the enemy numbers. He was a great American. Duty in West Germany was no picnic in 1955. Nazi terrorist units were still very active until 1970, there. The German State of Hesse was Ground Zero for their activities. I served in the Frankfurt area from 1985 til 1986 and got my first Purple Heart Medal from being wounded in a terrorist attack in Frankfurt. Search your Dad’s papers to locate his “serial’ or “service” number. These are different from his social security number. The military assigned “serial” numbers to soldiers and did not use Social Security numbers for them until the late 1970’s. If you do not have his serial number and he was buried with a military headstone, search the VA BIRLs files. These can be searched for free at familyfinder.com or at ancestry.com for a small fee. WWII records are newly on fold3 and ancestry.com. You can request his DD Form 214-Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty from the Military Personnel Records Center at http://www.archives.gov. You will need his serial number. His DD- 214 will show his ranks, assignments medals and awards. It is an invaluable document and shows his whole military history. Google the unit terms, shown above, for the unit and Kaserne histories. Thank you and your family for your Dad’s service.

      Good hunting,
      1SG Sam
      100% DAV

    • Thank you so much, Sam! I think I have his DD-214 somewhere. I’ve moved twice since he passed, but I think I might still have it.

      My brother will be pleased to hear what you’ve said about what his post did in non-wartime Germany. He said dad once bragged that he bumped into General Eisenhower in a doorway, but my brother didn’t believe him. It sure sounds like it was possible from what you describe. My brother also said dad was a cook, but we don’t know for sure. We do know he did some photography work as well though. There are photos in his scrapbook of him using an old enlarger and a full darkroom.

      He had mounted his Corporal chevrons in his scrapbook, too. We think he dropped out of high school to joint the army. I’d love to know how long he served.

      Thank you for your service as well, Sam. And thank you again for your wealth of information.

    • Hello B.J.,
      It is very likely that your Dad ran into General Eisenhower in Frankfurt between 1950 and 1952. Ike was the commander of NATO between those dates and was in Frankfurt, a lot. The 97th General Hospital was very close to 5th Corps Headquarters at the C. W. Abrams Complex in northwest Frankfurt. 5th Corps Headquarters was also Supreme Headquarters, Germany for all American forces in Europe. Ike spent about as much time there as he did in Paris at NATO Headquarters, at the time. As I mentioned, before, about being wounded, I was wounded by Iranian terrorists while serving on the Reaction Force defending 5th Corps Headquarters. I ran into and visited with a young 3 star General, Colin Powell, several times. Lieutenant General Powell was the 5th Corps Commander, at the time. Like Ike, he was very down to earth and liked talking to the privates. Your Dad would have been around 5th Corps Headquarters frequently, if he worked at the 97th General Hospital. I think that’s pretty cool. Thank you for your kind comments and support.

      1SG Sam

  13. Don’t understand the expensive $75 for records. Taxpayers pay for all this with THEIR TAXES. Not only that but according to the previous comments you can’t get a straight answer or the correct documents.

    • Maybe they need NEW EMPLOYEES?

    • No, the service departments pay for servicing their records. However, once it is an archival record the services no longer pay the NPRC for keeping the records so the fee for copying it offsets the costs of maintaining those records.

  14. Thru Ancestry DNA I found an older half-sister thru my father that we did not know existed. We don’t believe he knew about her either. She was given up for adoption at 10 days old and it appears that she was conceived within 6 months of my 17 year old father being sent to LA and stationed at Port Hueneme in 1954. We knew my dad had married while stationed there, and we knew her name was Louise. But that was all we knew. His discharge paper work shows he was married at time of discharge, so we expect the Navy has to know the specifics of the marriage. I would like to help my sister find her birth mother and this marriage may or may not be her, or if she is still alive she may know a name to help the search as my dad passed years ago. Any suggestions on how to get marriage info released to next-of-kin>

    • Patti, Do you have an Ancestry membership? I would start there. Even if it’s the 7 day free trial. Create a tree, put all the info you know for your parents, you, etc. Then, under your father put another spouse with her first name Louise. Then, put your half sister name as child. Also, put in where you knew they lived while in the service.This may create hints of marriage license and even her birth certificate. Depending on the state, the marriage info may or may not pop up. I live in NJ and I am unable to order on-line marriage certificates, licenses or birth stuff. However, I have many relatives from NY and I can and have ordered multiple licenses. It cost me $15 and then $3.80 for S/H for a total of $18.80 each. For me, well worth the money and all the info I have discovered. That is where I would start if it were me. Also, go back on-line to local newspaper website in that area and see if you can go back for a wedding announcement. You can put date ranges. Usually free. Anything mentioned in your dads obituary? Best of luck. May take a little while but you will discover what you are looking for.

    • Patti, Forgot to mention to also create a tree with Family Search which is the LDS Church. They have the largest amount of files and it’s free. Could be that between these two sites Louise’s family may have already started info. You can actually go to their local locations near you and they will help you establish the tree. Again, best of luck.

    • Patti… I’d suggest exactly the same thing Linda has. California has TONS of birth data online too. I’ve been amazed at how recent it is too. It generally includes the child’s name, DOB, county & mother’s maiden name. I’ve no idea If CA is the same as Missouri, but I have an older brother who was born in Missouri and got a “birth list” from the state that listed the names of every child born on his birthday. Both his adoptive & birth names were listed (as different children).
      If CA has such a list, you could look for a female with your father’s last name and that might possibly give you your sister’s birth name.
      Or…if she has her non identifying adoption information, it can really be VERY telling! I was able to found & trace my brother’s adoptive sister’s birth parents & families for her that way. Best of luck!

      If you want to send me your sister’s DOB, county & your dad’s last name I’d be happy to do a quick search to see if anything matching pops up.

      [email protected]

    • Patti, I too found an older half sibling through AncestryDNA, which was very exciting since I was adopted as a baby.
      I contacted him through Ancestry.com and we emailed several times. He was able to answer some of my questions.
      Ask the state health dept where your sibling was born, if you can get a copy of her original birth certificate.
      Also, if you know the adoption agency, contact them.

  15. I’m looking for a USAAF Captain who was in or near Cairo, Egypt in the first half of 1945. Is there a way to search FOLD3 for all WWII USAAF Captains from a particular state? And then is there a way to find out where they were in the first half of 1945?

  16. I have a photo of my father in law in uniform (my guess is Army). I have a card to my mother in law from the War Department, Office of Dependency Benefits, with his: Application number, army serial no. and a comment ‘approved as submitted’ March 1943. But, i cannot find any military records listed for him in FOLD3. None of his children (my husband included) recall any history of military service or experiences. No one is living whom we can ask. Can you suggest where to search?

    • Hello S.Kline,
      You are “way ahead of the game” with that record. The “serial number” is imperative to finding records. Your husband is “next of kin” (NOK) for US Army records requests. If he is Army, his records may have been lost in the fire of 1973 at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. That being said, not near as many records were lost as previously claimed. You can request his records at https://www.archives.gov/personnel-records-center/military-personnel. Unlike the US Marine Corps and US Navy, the US Army turned all of their records over to the NPRC in St. Louis with no backup storage source. Badda Boom- Badda Bing, the fire of 1973. There may be a fee involved to dig through singed or slightly smokey smelling records. The records of any person discharged before 1958 are “public accessible” records with no next of kin requirements. Request your Father-In-Law’s “War Department Adjutant General’s Office- Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty”. This document will give you his awards history, rank history, assignments history and discharge status history. Unfortunately, compared to the WW II USMC and USN muster rolls, there are few WW II US Army muster
      roll records online.

      1SG Sam
      Good hunting!

  17. I’m looking for info on my father who was in the Navy in WWll. I don’t have much info. Just his name & what he did on borad ship. Nothing more, any advice? Thank you

    • Thank you Jacquie but i re explored after reading the same article you sent me. I was hoping you had some other collection you knew of that i could explore.

    • Fill out a form, SF180. Provide as much information about your father as you can, full complete name..including his middle name, his date and place of birth..officer or enlisted..if an officer in WWII they keep those by service numbers. fill it out the best you can..including your mailing address and sign and date it. Then fax or mail your request to the National Personnel Record Center.. If it is for genealogical purposes there will be a fee involved..if you need it for benefits..just note that..and send it in.

    • Looking for info.re.my uncle who was in the Army and died overseas in a vehicle accident…his name HAROLD MILLER.

  18. My dad was a helicopter (yes, helicopter) pilot in WWII. He used to have a picture of him and the other pilots in training with a helicopter. The helicopters were shipped to India to be used rescuing wounded in Burma but they had problems with them and flew very few missions. I can not find anything about this special program anywhere. I requested my dad’s records and paid the $75 fee but all I got were the records of him stateside in training before he shipped off to join the First Air Commandos. Who would have records of this unit that flew helicopters?

    • Search for 1st Air Commando Group. It will give you a PDF on their operations in WW2 Burma and the background. It’s at least a start.

    • Your Dad’s interaction with helicopters was very brief, due to them being in their infancy when he was tasked to pilot one. The military saw the great potential and need for such an aircraft, but unfortunately, their goals were far ahead of the technology. At the time that your Dad was training, the primitive helicopters were powered by gasoline, car type engines. These were marginally functional in ideal test environments but lacking in modern combat environments. The gasoline engine delivered very weak thrust down a drive shaft to gear box and up another shaft to the rotor. No gasoline engine developed, til this day, is adequate enough to generate enough thrust to do the job. The helicopter concept was not fully successful until the advent of the helicopter turbine engine in the 1950’s. Unlike a heavy cast iron block gasoline engine, the turbine engine is very light weight and produces infinitely more thrust and power. The Army would have considered this a failure and, as such, with the times, would have covered up their “failure” and done all in their power to erase any documentary history, as such. This program would have been “classified” or “top secret” and all records, most likely destroyed. Your photos of your Dad are solid evidence of his service as a grandfather of the US Army rotary wing air service. He helped to pioneer a branch that saved the lives of ten of thousands of US servicemen from the Korean War until today. Your Dad is in the distinguished company of the men that first flew airplanes for the US Army in 1907 and Navy men who first rode primitive submarines under the waves and men who first strapped on primitive parachutes and jumped from airplanes as paratroopers and later Green Berets and Navy SEALS. I suspect that if you shared your photos with the US Army museum at Fort Rucker, AL they would be very excited to have them. Fort Rucker is the home of rotary wing aviation for the US Army. I salute your Dad and thank you and your family for his service. He was a true American pioneer and hero.

      1SG Sam
      US Army
      100% DAV

  19. When I was updating my DD-214 from my Air Force discharge I went directly to my Congressman and filled out some papers there. Took about 15 minutes and within about 30 days I had updated records.
    Easy as pie.
    I only know from AF experience not the other branches.
    I was discharged in Orange County, CA and went down to the Recorder and filed it in the county records.

  20. I have been trying to get records of my mother and father who were stationed in Camp Lejeune since Nov 2018.I filled out forms.I received a letter saying they found my mothers and need to send $75.which i did.Maybe will be sent April 1.My Fathers they say was in the fire.I can send $25 and they will send letter saying in was in service.Which I knew cause I have his dog tags.So why would I send $25 to get nothing.

  21. I have WWI registration card for my grandfather and that is it. There is a newspaper clipping stating the army was looking for him as a deserter. Is there a way to find out if the army had found him and he was court marshaled? I have lost trace of him when his wife died and my father and his siblings were placed in foster homes before 1930.

    • Hello Sheila,
      The first, and very important, clue to look at is the date of the newspaper clipping. If it falls between 1 JAN 1918 and 11 NOV 1918, this is important. Tens of thousands of men did not report for induction, between those dates, because they were near death from the “Spanish Influenza” outbreak. The 1918 N1H1 Influenza Pandemic was the most devastating disease outbreak in recorded history, on Earth. Between 1 January 1918 and 1 JAN 1920, this “Super Flu” killed 1/4 of the population of the Earth. Contrary to newspaper articles, at the time, the Flu did not originate in Spain. Patient “Zero” was a farmer, in Kansas, near Fort Riley, Kansas, the largest Army training center in America from 1917 to 1918. The US Army spread the disease world wide. This strain of the Flu was a perfect disease killing machine, the likes of which, has never been seen, before or since. The American government was extremely totalitarian during the war and chose to ignore the Flu and to continue to do things that accelerated the spread of the disease in the US population.
      After the War, sanity returned to America. If your grandfather had been stricken, he would have reported to the authorities with a letter from a doctor or statements from family as to his bout with the disease. He would have been pardoned and no action taken for desertion and for not reporting for induction. Keep in mind that the US only fought for nine months, in the war. Even though the Flu Pandemic was raging, the totalitarian government kept right on reporting men as “deserters” in their local newspapers, since they never acknowledged the existence of the disease. Talking about or writing about the Flu was “defeatist” and would warrant swift arrest. My great grandmother wrote a letter to her son, my grandfather, on the front lines in France, in October of 1918, telling him about the horrors of the Pandemic in Memphis. Her letter began; I hope the Censors don’t see this, I don’t care if they do-meaning she was afraid of arrest but did not care. From her letter, you could tell that the war was very unpopular. The vast majority of men did not volunteer but were “called up”. My grandfather did not receive his mother’s letter and it was returned to her unopened. She knew that he was dead, because of this. He contracted the Flu and was placed in a huge hanger building with hundreds of other American Army Flu patients and left to die in Liverpool, England. There were too many to treat. They were told not to try to leave or they would be shot. (Sick American servicemen would be shot???!!!) After 3 weeks, and running a 105 degree fever, at one point, my grandfather began to recover. He was partially paralyzed but would crawl out of the “pest” building at night and beg the English for medicines for him and his buddies. “Medicines” were coal oil and sugar cubes. He swore by those for the rest of his life, until 1978, and that those cured him and his buddies. Genetics saved him and his buddies, not coal oil on a sugar cube.
      In March of 1919, my great grandmother was at her sink basin in the back of the house in Memphis. She heard a noise and turned to see her dead son standing at the screen door on the front porch, in his Army uniform. She collapsed and hit her head on the floor. The Army lost track of him and had notified her that he was dead, in France. She was o.k and very happy for the rest of her life until 1970, that her only son had come home. She was born in 1876 and I knew her, well.
      As you see by my story, here, your grandfather lived in a very brutal time during our county’s history. It is highly unlikely that your grandfather was a deserter or ever court marshaled. I could be wrong but 40 years as a historian tell me “no”.
      A man without a wife in pre-1930’s America could not survive and be successful and his children survive without help from his wife or family. A poor single man with small children had no chance, no matter how much he loved his children. He had to have a partner and if he was poor, partners were hard to attract. The world stunk on ice, then. Your grandfather was a victim of the times and did what he hoped was best for his children, thou it may have broken him. If your grandfather was a dirtbag, he would never have shown up for draft registration, in the first place. He was a poor man during very hard times. Woodrow Wilson’s America was a place that I do not recognize as my America.

      1SG Sam
      100% DAV- US Army Infantry

      Son of
      US Navy Submariner
      WW II Era Boat

      Grandson of
      American WW I Infantry Soldier-France

      2nd Great Grandson of
      Civil War Cavalryman (x) 2

      3rd Great Grandson
      Civil War Cavalryman (x) 2

      5th Great Grandson
      Captain-General George Washington’s Army
      War of the American Revolution

      6th Great Grandson
      Militiaman-Kings Mountain
      War of the American Revolution

    • Sheila Monagan Stai,
      That answer from Sam was very instructive and informative! Anyways, I have researched my grandfather’s WW1 records at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis and those of his brothers. The key is to somehow find his Military Service Number. If he was registered for the draft, his Number is out there somewhere, I’m 100% of it. It may be on any number of federal documents or in a VA file or County or State records. In those days they put SERVICE NUMBERS on all sorts of governmental documents. This is where your hunt begins: finding that Service Number! Once you find it, you can find out what outfit he was in. Examples: 7th Infantry Regiment, Company D or 20th Field Artillery, Battery E or 7th Machine Gun Battalion, Company A etc. You get the idea. When you have what outfit he was in you can go to the NPRC in St. Louis and view the microfilm on the “AGO Daily Report of Changes and Muster Rolls” There will be info there on all the soldiers of such and such outfit: if they were AWOL, DESERTERS, SUMMARY COURT MARTIALS, SICK, FURLOUGHED, IMPRISONMENT along with other info, dates, rank, places, camps etc. The key is to find that SERVICE NUMBER, it all starts from there. Many States had soldiers in one certain Division. In WW1, Illinois’ soldiers were in the 33rd Division. The reason that I mention this is because many Division’s like the 33rd of Illinois had books made about their soldiers and many times all the names and SERVICE NUMBERS are listed. I mention this as just another possible resource. I’ve been at this research business on WW1 records for about 16 years now and I have learned a lot. Like one WW1 historian of the 3rd Division once told me “You have to keep digging…” Boy, was he ever right and I have dug deep! If you persevere and keep asking/talking to the right people, you WILL find his SERVICE NUMBER and be able to slowly untangle the mystery… Any help of inquiry, don’t hesitate to ask…
      Ed

  22. To Sam: What if your relative was KIA, as was my uncle Dan Haywood Fowler (Coxswain)–born in Vaughan, Mississippi — killed on the carrier USS HANCOCK on April 7, 1945. I have partial records sent me a few years ago by the Navy which I requested on behalf of my mother (his sister), she is now deceased. As he was single, I am the only surviving family member, his niece (eldest next of kin). I am missing some records of his duties during the time he served in the Pacific, and I am missing his Purple Heart medal. (I have several of his other medals the Navy sent me.) What department (or who) would I contact to receive the complete records of Uncle Dan’s Navy service career from enlistment in October of 1941 until his untimely death on the USS HANCOCK? He also served on the USS SARATOGA, before his transfer to the USS HANCOCK in January of 1944.
    I am also a Mississippian, born and raised in Canton. My mother and her brother and other siblings were raised in Yazoo County. My Uncle’s name is engraved along with others deceased (from all wars) on a memorial erected in Yazoo City. Since I’ve been reading all the comments, you have provided an immense supply of information for all of us, from all wars–my most gracious thanks to you.

    • Hello Nina,
      Everything that you are looking for is at https://www.archives.gov/veterans/replace-medals. You can, also, get his complete service record, in the Navy, at that source. Service member’s records that were discharged before 1958 are available to the public, for a fee, with no next of kin (NOK) requirement. Your Uncle’s Navy muster rolls are available, online, for search on Ancestry.com and Fold3.com. This is fairly new and is an awesome resource for WW II veterans month to month activities. These records will show combat duty, any sicknesses or periods of being wounded. They will, also, show killed in action (KIA) place, date, and details of combat action. My Uncle Woody was a Marine from 1940-1946 and talked to me very little about his service, even though I was a combat veteran. His muster rolls gave me his whole service history in the Pacific. He was an “Old Breed” hero. He was at Guadalcanal, Pelau in the Solomans, Guam and Iwo Jima. In 1940, he was in the USMC task force sent to Iceland to relieve the British and came under Nazi air attack, while there. Knowing as much as you do about your Uncle’s ship assignments is a benefit for records. You are ahead of the game. Quality commercial sources for medals include medalsofamerica.com, vanguardmil.com and usamilitarymedals.com. vanguardmil.com is the official supplier to the branches of all US Armed Forces. I bought all of my display medals from these companies. I do not wear my issue medals. They are in the issue cases. I wear my miniature medals on a nice suit jacket for military and regimental functions. I purchased a beautiful, gold plated Purple Heart medal for display in my wall case. Purchased medals are not engraved with the Veteran’s name as are the issued ones, such as the Purple Heart.

      Good hunting,
      1SG Sam

  23. My uncle served in WW II, in the South Pacific (judging from a couple of photos). But he got there by way of being in the Washington National Guard, so I have no idea how to start tracing for his records. There are some National Guard histories, but they indicate that most of the NG units got split up and attached to other military divisions. And the national records site doesn’t seem to cover NG.

  24. Sam G Patterson Jr, can you tell me how to access photos that were on the front of the Stars and Stripes? My dad said that my uncle was on the front show soldiers in white headed to the Battle of the Bulge

    • Hello Gene Ann,

      Ancestry.com has those editions for a small fee to access. The editions are searchable by name, date, place and subject. If you don’t get a hit on a name search, you can thumb through the editions dated from 16 December, 1944 to 25 January, 1945. The easiest way to access is as follows:
      1. From the Ancestry.com home page, click the “Search” button at the top of the
      page.
      2. A drop down menu will open. Click on “Card Catalog”.
      3. In the “Title” box type “Stars and Stripes Newspaper”.
      4. From the menu on the right, select ” Stars and Stripes Newspaper, Europe,
      Mediterranean, and North Africa Editions, 1942-1964″.
      5. You can search specific terms, as stated above, or thumb through those
      editions, page by page.

      Since the information that you are looking for is on the front page, you should be able to thumb through those fairly quickly. I have been a military researcher and genealogist for over 40 years and have used Ancestry.com for many many years. The newspaper images are excellent and can be downloaded to your computer. Once downloaded, the page image can be blown up and you can use your computer’s photo editing tool to crop the image that you want with very high quality.

      Good hunting,
      1SG Sam

  25. Another medal/ribbon source is https://www.ultrathin.com from Moore, OK. I have used them for years and they make great thin mountings.

    • I gotta get me some of those. My ribbons are full size and I have to wear a bunch of ribbon backers and cardboard under my shirt to keep my shirt from hanging and looking like a ragbag.

      Good hunting,
      1SG Sam

  26. I’ve made requests to the NPRC for my father’s service records. He was a weatherman on a Naval ship during “Operation Redwing” on the Pacific in the mid-1950s. I have his social security but not his service ID. I’ve filled out a NA 13075 Questionnaire Updated Form.pdf once or twice. The other information I have for him is quite specific (including a very strange commendation from military chiefs for his participation in OR). I’m told they can find nothing. I’ve wondered if all of the records from some operations were simply destroyed.

    • Sam will help you on the record information. Operation Redwing was a series of 17 nuclear test detonations form May-July 1956 at Bikini and Enewetok atolls including the first deliverable hydrogen bomb. Specific records may still be classified.

    • How do I get introduced to Sam? I am new here.
      Thanks.

  27. Hello Rachel,

    The full government reports for that operation were declassified and released to the public. There were four, in total, released between 1982 and 1995. Do an internet search for “Operation Redwing 1956” Those will come up and you can download them in PDF format. I looked at one report at https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a134795.pdf. That report is very telling and would never have seen the light of day unless the aftermath was very bad, which it was. If you need your father’s records for a compensation claim due to a death from cancer, contact your local Congressman or Senator for help with getting his records from the NPRC and other federal agencies. They will take what you have, in the way of information, and cut through the red tape and get his records.
    That operation was very bad and a lot of those guys were exposed to radiation. If your dad was treated at the VA, they will have all of his records, as well. There is a specific compensation program for veterans in that operation, that succumbed to any of 19 primary cancers. Next of kin can file, as well. You are primary next of kin.

    Good luck,
    1SG Sam

  28. When trying to get my dad’s records the 1st time, I was told they were destroyed in the fire. Um no…. he was in the Navy. They just get to the point where they don’t want to do their job. I finally have part of what I want. Now for the medical records.

  29. How would I locate records of someone enlisted in an Air Force Base that no longer exist? Possible stationed in Roswell, NM during the year of 1965-67.

  30. I filled out a form 85B Pensions Document Packet – Research Ticket (can be printed online) for the US National Archives and Records Administration. This was for my grandfather who was in the Civil War. if you know some information such as branch of service and unit he served in, date of birth, pension file number, etc. , you may get back information unavailable to you before. You can often find enough info to fill out the form from Ancestry.com, myheritage.com, etc. I paid $30 and got hospital records (telling his injury, location and date he was shot, certificate of disability for discharge, marriage license, records from dept. of the interior, etc.

  31. I am like most of you and paid the money to get the records for my father in law Larry Fitzwater but was also told they burned. He was in the Army in WWII and what I’m looking for is info about the battle he was in and received metals for. It was the battle of Luson Sept 1945. 19th or 126 inf? I only have his 3 docs that show his service but no other details. Would love to know about his time in that battle and who else was there with him. Any ideas as to where to look now that the records are not there anymore?