Looking For A Veteran?
Or
Information About a Veteran's Service?





This site receives almost daily inquiries from children or grandchildren of WWII Veterans. More often than not, the sudden realization that Dad or Grandpa is gone and he told you so little about his time in service leaves a void that must be filled. Some are almost impossible to help. Like this one:

"My father was in WWII, I think in either the Army or the Navy. How can I find out more about him. Did he win any medals? His name was William Smith."

However, this is not hopeless.
 
 

WHERE TO START

Start with the National Personnel Record Center.

Their URL is:

http://www.nara.gov/regional/mpr.html

 I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the National Personnel Record Center in St. Louis had a serious fire in  1973 that destroyed or badly damaged 80% of the documents concerning men who were discharged between 1912 and 1960. You have a 20% chance that a veteran's records survived.

More on the fire can be found at:

http://www.nara.gov/regional/mprfire.html

If you contact them, they MAY, but probably will not be able to help you. At the very least, you will need your father's FULL name and army serial number, or, lacking that, his social security number and, if known, his dates of service. They will not respond to e-mail requests for information other than general info such as hours of operations, procedures, forms, or to submit compliments, complaints or concerns.
The address above gives information on how to contact them.

For information on how to request military records, see:

http://www.nara.gov/regional/mprsf180.html

Meanwhile, start looking at home for his Discharge Certificate etc.

TRY THE INTERNET

Searching for information on the internet is, at best, a hit and miss proposition.

If your veteran was a member of a large military unit, like an infantry division, or server on a major naval vessel the chances are pretty good that there is an organization of veterans of that unit. They may or may not have websites. If your veteran was a member of a large unit there MAY be a website or a former member of that unit may have a website (like this one).

But time is of the essence here.  There was a recent news report that more than 1,100 WW II veterans are passing away every single DAY! This is a sobering reality that we must face. The time is fast approaching when there simply will not be enough of us left to hold even small reunions and infirmities may bring that time still closer. The ranks are thinning so fast that many units are discontinuing their annual reunions.
The consequences for people looking for wartime friends of their veterans is clear. The doors are closing on contact opportunities.

Where to look for information?

I like to use the search engine:

http://www.dogpile.com

Why?
Because they have no database of their own but check out all of the major search engines and give you all of their results. This can save you a lot of time.
 

No luck there?

Try:

http://www.Military.Com

There you will find links to many sites that might contain what you are looking for.

Hey, nobody said this would be easy!

At the bottom of the main index page of this website:

http://www.pierce-evans.org

You will find the Military Webring.

In the ring are more than seven hundred websites devoted to some aspect of WWII ( and there are webrings for other wars as well) . Many of these sites have Guest Books. When you find an appropriate site, sign  their guest book.  Leave a brief but explicit message as to the information you are seeking.

AND PLEASE make certain YOUR e-mail address is correct. Some folks have looked for info on this site and we have found what they are looking for but are unable to respond because they goofed on their own e-mail addresses.

Does this sound familiar?

We get a lot of these.

"My grandfather received a bronze star. How can I find out what he did to earn this medal?"

Are you sure about this?

The bronze battle stars affixed to the veteran's theater of operations ribbon signify participation in  major campaigns but were not awarded for personal valor or accomplishment. These battle stars are frequently confused with Bronze Star Medals.

Veterans often framed the medals they received. Medals were accompanied by citations. Families often placed these in a safe deposit box, but many tucked them away in the back of the frame containing the medal. So, check there, too.

A  Commentary:

Recently, Bronze Star Medals were issued to any veteran eligible for the Combat Infantry Badge who applied for it. This made every combat infantryman a potential Bronze Star recipient.

( See http://usmilitary.about.com/library/milinfo/armedal/blbsm.htm )

Excerpt from this site:
    b. President Roosevelt authorized the Bronze Star
                 Medal by Executive Order 9419 dated 4 February
                 1944, retroactive to 7 December 1941. This
                 authorization was announced in War Department
                 Bulletin No. 3, dated 10 February 1944. The
                 Executive Order was amended by President
                 Kennedy, per Executive Order 11046 dated 24
                 August 1962, to expand the authorization to include
                 those serving with friendly forces.

                     c. As a result of a study conducted in 1947, the
                 policy was implemented that authorized the
                 retroactive award of the Bronze Star Medal to
                 soldiers who had received the Combat Infantryman
                 Badge or the Combat Medical Badge during World
                 War II. The basis for doing this was that the badges
                 were awarded only to soldiers who had borne the
                 hardships which resulted in General Marshall’s
                 support of the Bronze Star Medal. Both badges
                 required a recommendation by the commander and a
                 citation in orders.

 In our view, this greatly diminished the value of the Bronze Star Medals won the hard way,  just as the issuing, to all soldiers, of black berets ( a symbol of pride and honor of the Special Forces)  diminished the symbolism of this head gear.

Fortunately, the new Commander in Chief rescinded this order and restored the black beret to its status of identifying members of an elite military force. Bravo to George W.

(I must confess to my envy of the wearers of the Combat Infantry Badge, worn in a place of honor, over the heart but above all other decorations. I was in the Signal Corps but, in combat, was attached to an infantry unit,working shoulder to shoulder with recipients of that badge. If I had worn crossed rifles on my lapel instead of crossed signal flags, I would sport that honored badge, but . . . ceste la guerre.)
 
 



Wish I could give you more help on your search for information about your veteran but this is about all I can suggest for now. . . . . . . . . . . . .
But come back from time to time. If anything new comes to mind, I will post it.

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