Finding a World War II (1939-1945) Veteran's Records
Use this guide to find information in military records about a man or woman who served in the U.S. armed forces during World War II.
- Beginning Research in United States Military Records
- US Military Basic Search Strategies
- World War II United States Military Records, 1941 to 1945.
Home Sources[edit | edit source]
If the veteran is still alive, ask his or her help finding records. Gather facts from sources at home,and talk to relatives. Look for discharge papers, pictures, medals,etc. Look for clues about where he or she lived and served. Dates of enlsitment or selective service registration will be helpful along with the name military units they served with.
Unit Histories[edit | edit source]
The Family History Library has some World War II records, mostly selected unit histories. They contain rosters, brief biographies, and usually photographs of men and equipment. To find unit histories use Places Search in the FamilySearch Catalog under United States and the topic Military History or Military Records, followed by the topic World War, 1939-1945.
Family History Library Sources[edit | edit source]
In the Family History Library you may find other World War II sources found by using a Places Search for the servicement's home state, county, or town, followed the topic Military Records. See also US Military Records at the FHL
Social Security Death Index[edit | edit source]
Veterans who died since 1962 may be in an index on FamilySearch at United States Social Security Death Index. The index provides the deceased person's birth date, social security number, state where the social security card was issued, month and year of death, and sometimes the residence and zip code where the death benefit was sent.
Discharge Papers[edit | edit source]
If you know a serviceman's hometown, inquire about his discharge papers at his county recorder's office. Servicemen were asked (but not required) to register their separation form DD-214. This paper gives their rank, unit, service number, separation date and place, birth date and place, physical description, pay, assignments, and awards. Many veterans kept a copy athome. Call directory assistance to get the phone number and address of a veteran's county recorder's office. You may also contact the National Personnel Records Center DD Form 214, Discharge Papers and Separation Documents
Veterans Affairs Records[edit | edit source]
Many veterans received a G.I. Bill educations, veterans' hospital or health benefits, or housing loan benefits. If you know the veteran's name, birth date, death date, and Social Security number, you can request information from the nearest U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. They may be able to provide insurance, birth date,service number, service entry and separation dates, service branch, pay grade, or claim folder location. Veterans Affairs offices are in the U.S. government section of the telephone book.
Veterans Associations[edit | edit source]
Contact organizations like the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, or American Ex-Prisoners of War to ask for a vetera's application, or to find people who might have known your veteran. VFW applications include a copy of the discharge papers form DD-214. A local post of the association is more likely to have applications and other records than the national headquarters. Look in the telephone book for phone numbers or the Internet for address directories.
See also the following Wiki article World War II Societies
Personnel and Medical Records[edit | edit source]
A typical personnel file has information about service dates, marital status, dependents, rank, salary, assignments, education level, decorations, service number, birth date and place, death date and place, and sometimes a photo. For an explanation of how to apply for a personnel file using the National Archives form SF 180 and Internet links to the form, go to Request Military Personnel Records Using Standard Form 180. Also use SF 180 to request a "complete" military medical file, which is in separate archives.
- Gray, Paul D. “The Human Record of Conflict: Individual Military Service and Medical Records.” Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives 23 (Fall 1991): 307–13. (FHL book 973 B2p.)
National Archives[edit | edit source]
Use the National Archives Catalog at National Archives Catalog to help find World War II records preserved at the National Archives.
Casualty Lists[edit | edit source]
Army and Army Air Force Casualty Lists are available from the National Archives at Army and Army Air Force Casualties. Within each county they are slphabetical by name and only include those who died from wounds received in the line of duty. They show name rank, serial number, and type of casualty. Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard Casualty Lists are atNavy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Personnel. Each state list is alphabetical divided by the casualty type, including wounded and recovered. Also shows next of kin address. For a guide to the National Archives record groups on this topic, see:
Benjamin DeWhitt. Records Relating to Personal Participation in World War II: American Military Casualties and Burials; Reference Information Paper 82. Washington, D.C.: NARA, 1993. At various libraries (WorldCat). (FHL Book 973 J53da). This guide describes the military casualty reporting system and related papers.
Cemeteries[edit | edit source]
The following wiki article will contain information about National Cemeteries in the United States and the American Battle Monuments Commission for cemeteries overseas.United States World War II Cemetery Records
- Memorial Division Registration Branch, Office of the Quartermaster General, Department of the Army. Rosters of World War II dead (all services) 268 microfiche FHL Digital Images of cemetery codes
The National Archives Register, World War II Dead Interred in American Military Cemeteries Overseas is available online at Ancestry.com for a fee. Free access to the collection is available at the Family History Library U.S. Rosters of World War II Dead, 1939-1945. It lists name, state, rank, service, plot, and burial date.
Prisoner of War Records[edit | edit source]
For National Archives sources and a guide, see the United States World War II Prisoner of War Records Wiki page.
- Heaps, Jennifer Davis. “World War II Prisoner-of-War Records." Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives 23. (Fall 1991): 323–8. (FHL book 973 B2p.)
Draft Registration[edit | edit source]
During World War II the United States registered fifty million men and drafed ten million into the service. A typical card will list name, address, telephone, birth date, and place, next of kin, employer, and physical description. The following wiki article will have additional information.United States World War II Draft Records See also Record G. Wood, comp. Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Selective Service System, 1940-47. Washington: the National Archives, National Archives and Records Service. General Services Administration, 1951.
Finding a Living Veteran[edit | edit source]
For a book about finding military personnel see:
- Richard S. Johnson, and Debra Johnson Knox, How to Locate Anyone Who Is or Has Been in the Military: Armed Forces Locator Guide, 8th ed. (Spartanburg, SC: Military Information Enterprises, 1999. FHL Book 973 M27j Includes chapters about service and Social Security numbers, active duty, Reserve and National Guard, retired, veterans, how to obtain military recirds, locating anyone, reuntions, state government records, deceased, and family history information.
For Further Reading[edit | edit source]
- Debra johnson Knox. World War II military records : a family historian's guide. Spartanburg, South Carolina : MIE Publishing,2003 FHL 973 M27kw
- Jonathan Gawne. Finding your father's war : a practical guide to researching and understanding service in the World War II US Army.Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania : Casemate, 2006 FHL 973 M27g
- Benjamin L. DeWhitt, comp. Records relating to personal participation in World War II : military awards and decorations FHL 973 J53r v. 92
- Timothy P. Mulligan, comp.Guide to records relating to U.S. military participation in World War II. 2 vols. Washington, D.C. : National Archives and Records Administration, 1996-1998. FHL 973 J53mt
- George Forty, US Army Handbook 1939-1945 New York: Barnes and Noble, 1998 FHL Book 973 M27f Discusses training, organization, units, staff, arms, services, vehicle markings, insignia and patches.
- Lee Kennett. G.I. The American Soldier in World War II. New York:Charles Scribner's Sons, 1987 FHL 973 M2ke