Over the years, I have received countless emails from people asking to help them research the military service of a loved one. Helping them out and hearing the stories of what they discover is one of the major joys of publishing this web page. I have decided to post many of the research information that you will need to find information on this page. I hope that this will not stop you from emailing me directly to ask questions and to share your stories.
I have also posted links to other web pages which share a focus on honoring our veterans. I hope that you find them as interesting and informative as I do.
This is a basic listing of research information available on the web or via mail. It is not inclusive of everything available as there is no possible way to list every place that might have the information for which you are looking. The biggest road block you will find in researching veteran information is that the St. Louis branch of the United States National Archives, which houses all of the military personnel files, had a fire in 1973. This fire destroyed or damaged many of the Military Records. After that resource is tried, the road to research forks in many directions. Which path you take will depend on your veteran's branch of service, years of service, did they survive the war or were they killed, etc. Be persistent and you can piece together some information.
The National Archives: This is the first place you should start. Follow the links for Military Records, and fill out the required form with as much information that you have about the veteran. You will need their service number or social security number. In additional to individual service records housed in St. Louis, other branches of the National Archives maintains other Records Groups. Unit Records from World War I to Vietnam are housed in the College Park, MD branch of the Archives. If you can visit the Archives yourself, you will find a wealth of information about your veteran. The Unit Records contain unit histories, maps, radio logs, after-action reports, General Orders, etc. While you may not find the veteran mentioned by name, you will learn about what they experienced during the war.
The Archival Database of the National Archives: This is an online research tool within the National Archives web page. You can use it to search for the veterans World War II serial number/service number, which you will need to order records. Click on the link to the appropriate war and search the veterans name.
State Archives: This site provides addresses and links to most of the States Archives. This is a resource which most people overlook. State Archives have invaluable records for veterans from World War I and before.
The American Battle Monuments Commission: The ABMC maintains all of the American Military Cemeteries located overseas. This web page will allow you to search for those soldiers who are buried in one of their 24 cemeteries. Information on about 200,000 veterans can be found on this web page. Additionally, if the veteran is buried in their cemeteries, they will provide the family with a photograph of the headstone free of charge. ABMC personnel have always been very helpful to me and are among the kindest and most professional people I have worked with in my research.
The National World War II Memorial: The web page for the new National World War II Memorial located in Washington DC. You can search the "Registry" which contains information about World War II veterans. You can also add information about your veteran for others to see.
The United States Department of Veterans' Affairs Grave Locator: You can search for burial information about any United States veteran buried in one the the National Cemeteries within the United States.
Ancestory.com: This is a paid subscription web page, but I have found it to be worth every penny. It has a number of searchable military history indexes that can greatly help your research. While you can find some of them in other places, this site can really save you time and hassle. It also has searchable newspaper indexes and Census information not found elsewhere.
The Air Force Historical Research Agency: This Agency maintains all of the Air Force historical records. The staff is wonderful and very helpful. You can order Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) and Accident Reports from World War II from them. They also have mission reports, etc.
The U.S. Army Air Forces of World War II.com: A great site with information about the Army Air Corps in World War II. It has a message board where you can search for information as well as information on Air Forces, Air Groups and Squadrons.
The Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF): There is not a web page link for this file, but its is the best file that you can find for information about servicemen and women killed in action from World War II to present day. These files are maintained by the US Army and contain information about everything that happened to the remains of the serviceman from time of death until final burial. It will tell you date of death, unit information, place of burial and other information. In order to get the file, write to the following address requesting the IDPF under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). You will need to include the person's full name and service number. It will take about 6 months before you hear anything from them. The address is:
U.S. Army Personnel Command
Public Affairs Office (FOIA)
1600 Spearhead Division Avenue
Fort Knox, KY 40122
The Korean War Project: Searchable listings of those killed and or missing in action from the Korean War.
D-Day Militaria: Brandon has produced a series of books cataloging the General Order from the National Archives for each American Military unit. His research is ongoing but a number of units are already complete. This is a great resource if you are researching specific veterans.
The Purple Heart: An incredibly informative site by one of the foremost historians of the Purple Heart. A history of the Purple Heart tells you about construction variation as well as engraving styles used in different eras. There is also a great tribute page to service members killed in action whose Purple Hearts are in preserved by Tom Lane.
The Purple Heart: Heroism & Sacrifice: Another site listing Purple Heart medals researched by a collector.
In Honored Glory: A wonderful web page maintained to honor all of the American servicemen who are buried at the Henri-Chapelle American Military Cemetery in Belgium.
Freedom Is Not Free: Allied World War II Casualties In The Netherlands Remembered: Another great tribute site honoring all Allied soldiers killed in the Netherlands. If can you did not know, to this day, the graves of American servicemen and women in the Netherlands are "adopted" and maintained by the Dutch. The person who adopts the grave honors the soldier who gave their life liberating their country by maintaining and visiting the grave. I have received many emails for individuals in the Netherlands wanting to research the life of the soldier whose grave they have adopted. It is one of the greatest tributes I know of to our veterans.
In Proud Remembrance: A wonderful World War II tribute page that contains veterans' stories, remembrances of the fallen and photos and links to the overseas American Military Cemeteries.
Fallen But Not Forgotten: A Dutch webpage honoring those who died during World War II. They have stories of American soldiers who gave their lives as well as stories about Dutch citizens who have adopted American graves in Holland.
Brunssum War Cemetery: A very well done web page concerning a British War Cemetery in Brunssum, Netherlands. It has a great link section listing a number of web pages honoring US and Allied troops in World War I and World War II.
National Purple Heart Roll of Honor: The Unofficial Website: This web page is a compliment to the National Purple Heart Museum web page. It was designed to provide a more interactive and up to date version of the original page, which is slow to update.
The 55th Fighter Group: One of the most complete and thoroughly researched websites I have ever seen dedicated to a single unit. This page covers the history and accomplishments of the United States' 55th Fighter Group in World War II.
The 389th Bomb Group Association: The official site of the 389th Bomb Group in World War II.
The 303rd Bomb Group: The official site of the 303rd Bomb Group in World War II.
Keith Thompson: For allowing me to use his photograph "Row of Crosses" in my web pages header.