Veterans & Family Search & Information
Veterans or their next of kin can obtain complete military and medical records, including DD-214s. Non-relatives may also request this information, but what they will receive will be limited and will not include date of birth, official photo, records of court martial for active duty personnel, medical information, social security number, or present address. State that the request is being made under the Freedom of Information Act.
Requests for military records are best made on a government form, SF 180. There is an online records request capability, but experience to date indicates difficulty in getting all of the records available through this method. The paper form has a better track record if used in the manner prescribed below. This form is available on the Internet at
You cannot request an entire file, each document must be named and only those named specifically will be provided. Names of documents include unit orders, awards and commendations, efficiency reports and ratings, promotion orders, records of court martial or other disciplinary actions, assignment and reassignment orders, photographs, qualification records, and report of separation (DD-214). It is suggested you use the exact wording above to name documents on form SF 180 as this has achieved good results in the past.
When requesting medical records a statement should be included that they are needed by a current physician if applicable. If information is being requested regarding a specific injury or illness, that should be specified. If records regarding hospitalizations are needed, provide the dates that the hospitalization occurred and the name of the hospital if known.
Send the SF 180 to the
An alternate choice for Army veterans if positive ID such as a service number is available, is to request a copy of the veteran’s "Individual Deceased Personnel File" from:
Department of the Army
(Address must be exactly as written including caps)
The above address with address caution is information a few years old now (2004). One individual awaiting IDPF processing received an “in progress” status mailing from:
Dept of the Army
US Total Army Personnel Command
And from another source the following:
Army (only) Deceased Personnel File - This file contains detailed information on each Army casualty… file may include – autopsy report and finger prints… personal effects list, etc. Letter of request: Must include Dad’s Military ID #, name, unit served with, casualty date. Be sure to enclose a copy of your birth certificate showing proof of your relationship to deceased.
FOIA OFFICER, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
ADMIN SECTION, ATTN:TAP-ALP-A (FOIA)
DCS PERSONNEL & LOGISTICS
U.S. Army Personnel Rosters and Morning Reports are
available from the
Operations Reports/Lessons Learned (ORLL) and other primary
source material about Army units in
Similar reference assistance may also be obtained from the U.S. Army Military History Institute, Bldg. 22, Upton Hall, Carlisle Barracks, Carlisle, PA 17013-5008, 717-245-3611, fax 717-245-3711.
Unlike the Army and Marine Corps, the Air Force did not
prepare unit rosters. Morning Reports from September 1947 to
The Official Air Force Register listing personnel from
1949-1975 is available on microfilm from the Office of Air Force History,
Building 5681, 170 Luke Avenue, Bolling AFB,
Washington, DC 20332-5113, 202-767-4548 or 5764. As with unit rosters in the
other services, in order to locate material concerning a particular individual,
it is necessary to know the time period and the unit/squadron in which the
person served. The Air Force Register, 1949-1975 is also located at the
National Guard Association of the United States Library,
The Catalog of The USAF Oral History Collection (1989), a
finding aid arranged alphabetically by name of interviewee with list of topics
discussed, includes air room interviews, air intelligence contact units, and
escape and evasion interviews for
The most definitive and comprehensive collection of Air Force primary source materials is located at the Air Force Historical Research Agency (formerly the U.S. Air Force Research Center), 600 Chennault Circle, Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, AL 36112-6424, 205-953-5834. This archive contains, among others, the following materials, some of which have been mentioned above:
Unit Histories, some dating to WWI, are available as published or unpublished hardcopy documents and/or on microfilm. As with all unit history searches, the requester must know the name or number of the unit.
Aircraft Record Cards which list assignments of aircraft are available for the period of ca. 1926-1980. They are sorted by military serial number, an index of which is available.
Missing Air Crew Reports from WWII.
Check with the agency for availability of these documents from
As with other archives, it is best to call and speak with an archivist for assistance in starting your search before actually going to the archive.
Other Air Force agencies which may have relevant information or documents are:
Air Force Historian, 60 AMW/HO, Travis AFB, CA 94535, 707-424-3241, email: email@example.com
Air Combat Command, Historian,
Many of these agencies also have websites.
Unit diaries, which include rosters, through 1966 are located
at the Marine Corps Historical Center. The records are arranged by month and
year, and list the officers and enlisted men within a unit at the company level
or the battalion/squadron level. These documents may be examined in person or
may be requested in writing, one month and year per letter, and they will only
accept one request per year for one month of records. Specify exact unit
information and state that the request is being made under the Freedom of
Information Act. Send or fax written requests to the Marine Corps Historical
Center, Reference Section, Building 58, Washington Navy Yard, Washington, DC
20374-0580, 202-433-3483, Fax: 202-433-4691.
Marine Corps operations reports, including plans, command
diaries, command chronologies, and after action reports from 1964 are located
at the Marine Corps Historical Center, Archives Section, Building 58,
Washington Navy Yard, Washington, DC 20374, 202-433-4253. Call in advance and
speak with the archivist about your request. Marine Corps reports through 1963
are located at the Textual Reference Branch, National Archives II,
U.S. Navy Muster Rolls, the equivalent of unit rosters, are
available from the following locations. The location of the records is based on
date and on type of service, whether on a ship or not. Muster rolls from 1939
through 1966 (ships only) are located at the National Personnel Records Center,
9700 Page Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63132-5100, 314-538-4141. U.S. Navy Muster Rolls
from 1967 to 1975 are located at Bureau of Naval Personnel (PERS-093),
Arlington Annex, Federal Building 2, Room 4531,
Deck logs, listing a monthly roster of officers, are accessed through the Textual Reference Branch of the National Archives. Address and phone/fax numbers are in the previous paragraph.
Cruise books for specific ships may be available from
military reunion groups or the Navy Museum/Ship Histories, 1st Floor, Bldg 57,
Washington Navy Yard, 901 M Street, SE,
Passenger manifests for military on Navy ships are
maintained by the
Call and ask to speak with an Archivist specializing in the Vietnam War before going to the Archives. They can assist in determining whether materials you are interested in are available and explain how to obtain a researcher's card to examine the documents.
The American Battle Monuments Commission is the
These cemeteries are the resting place of over 100,000 American soldiers and sailors.
Part of the online service of the American Battle Monuments Commission is three searchable databases of those killed in three 20th century wars: World War 1, World War 2, and the Korean War.
The searches themselves are the soul of simplicity. Just
select the war (World War 1, World War 2, or
Clicking on the "Go" button next to the personal name, you will get a more complete explanation, including the person's unit, date and place of death and burial, and even any honors awarded during his or her service. The entries for Korean War casulaties are occasionally more detailed than the casualty entries for the two world wars.
These three searches can provide valuable data in themselves, and provide you with sufficient information to request a more full service file from the federal government.
American Battle Monuments Commission
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has revised its application form to make requesting a VA grave marker easier. The new form, Application For Standard Government Headstone or Marker (VA Form 40-1330), includes updated information about changes that expand eligibility for a government marker. The new form and instruction sheets also permit better communication between VA and veterans' families.
For deaths on or after
The laws require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to report
to Congress by
In January 2002, VA introduced a toll-free fax service for submitting applications. This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as an alternative to regular mail. Instructions, as well as the fax number, 1-800-455-7143, are on the VA website at http://www.cem.va.gov/.
The application form on the website can be filled in and printed for submitting by mail or fax. Questions about a headstone or marker application can be directed to VA's Memorial Programs Service applicant assistance unit at 1-800-697-6947.
All honorably discharged veterans are entitled to a one
time, free of charge replacement set of their authorized medals and ribbons.
Submit request in writing to:
From another source:
Replacing Medals - Medals awarded while in active service will be issued by the appropriate service if requested by veterans or, if deceased, their next of kin. The veteran's full name should be printed or typed, so that it can be read clearly. The request must contain the signature of the veteran or the signature of the next of kin if the veteran is deceased. Include a copy of the military service records – this will have a list of all medals awarded.
Requests for Navy, Marine Corps
and Coast Guard send to:
U.S. Navy Liaison Office
National Personnel Records Center
9700 Page Blvd.
Requests Army send to:
U.S. Army Reserve Personnel Center
9700 Page Blvd.
Requests Air Force send to:
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC www.nps.gov/vive/home.htm
was built from private donations collected by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial found.
After the Wall was dedicated, it became the property of the
citizens of the
The National Park Service provides lawn mowing and landscaping services, Park Service Police, and National Park Rangers at the Wall. National Park Service volunteers also work at the Wall and get their uniforms, rubbing paper, directories, and “employee insurance” from the National Park Service. The National Park Service has funded such things as an array of expansion-contraction sensors behind each panel of the Wall.
Volunteers from a nearby chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of
America wash the Wall monthly. For a number of years, VVA Chapter 451 from
Vietnam Veterans National Memorial http://www.angelfirememorial.com/
In Angel Fire, New Mexico, was built in 1972 by Dr. David Westphall
in honor of his son who was killed in Vietnam in 1968. For several years the
memorial was operated by Disabled American Veterans, then a not-for-profit
corporation. In 2004 the Memorial became a
Women In Military Service to
There are four different organizations that operate “Traveling” scaled-down versions of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial that tour the country, staying at a sponsored site for three to six days. Two organizations that had operated their own traveling Walls are no longer doing so; “Lake County Vetz” and Service Corporation International (SCI), a cemetery consortium
“The Moving Wall”, http://www.themovingwall.org/ is a ½ scale replica of the Wall which was first displayed in 1984 and is operated by Vietnam Combat Veterans, Ltd. John Devitt, the president, has constructed five Moving Walls which have traveled to Saipan, Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, Puerto Rico, Canada, and about 700 locations in the continental United States. Two structures of The Moving Wall are in operation this year. This year’s fee for a 6-day visit is $3500.
“American Veterans Traveling Tribute” http://www.avtt.org/ is a 5/8 scale replica of the Wall. The AVTT display includes the world’s largest POW/MIA flag.
“The Wall That Heals” Operated by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial fund was built in 1997 with donations from the VFW and Turner Television. Harley Davidson and Target Department Stores provide funding. This year’s fee for a 3-day visit is $6225 plus hotel accommodations for the travel team.
Several web sites provide visitors the ability to view and publish photographs, poems, letters, citations, and other remembrances to those who are named on the Wall.
The Virtual Wall http://www.virtualwall.org/
Remembrances on VVMF’s web site http://www.thevirtualwall.org/
– Also called “The Vietnam Veterans Digital Legacy”, opened
Casualty statistics to include NVA and ARVN, http://www.rjsmith.com/kia_tbl.html
broken down in various ways:
View The Wall http://www.viewthewall.com/ Is a photographic record of the wall, searchable and zoomable.
The American Legion -
was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic, mutual-help, and wartime
veteran’s organization. A community-service organization,
which now numbers nearly 3 million members - men and women - in nearly 15,000
American Legion Posts worldwide. These Posts are organized into 55 departments - one each for the 50
Veterans of Foreign Wars – (VFW) National Headquarters - 406 West 34th Street Kansas City, Missouri 64111 – For over a century, the VFW has helped our nation's veterans by providing programs and services which: Strengthen comradeship among our members, perpetuate the memory and history of our fallen soldiers, foster patriotism, defend the Constitution and promote service to our communities and our country. On the web –
Veterans of the Vietnam War – http://www.vvnw.org/ is a veterans organization founded in 1978 to have the service and special needs of Vietnam War Veterans recognized and acknowledged. Many chapters worldwide and services for veterans.
VietNow - http://www.vietnow.com/ is active in
legislative, PTSD, and other veterans’ issues. Recently donated $100,000, a
major piece of their treasury, to help fund Sons and Daughters In Touch trip to
Agent Orange – information through Veterans Administration – on the web -
Many are online at the following web site:
Perhaps the best and
most complete set of
or directly at:
Department of Defense – Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office
To include: Personnel Missing - Southeast Asia (PMSEA) Database
National Alliance of Families home page
National League of POW/MIA Families – The League’s sole
purpose is to obtain the release of all prisoners, the fullest possible
accounting for the missing and repatriation of all recoverable remains of those
who died serving our nation during the Vietnam War. –
Operation Just Cause - Operation Just Cause is a non-funded assembly of persons from around the world, united in their desire to achieve the fullest possible accounting of Americans missing and unaccounted during the Vietnam War and all wars. On the web:
Task Force Omega, Inc. - was incorporated as a national
Current MIA Status. – updated approximately monthly from DPMO official records and newspaper articles about recently returned or recently identified remains.
Veterans are likely to have registered with the Veteran's Administration. Compose a "double blind" letter with a very simple note asking the veteran to contact you (the VA stresses brief and simple) and place it in an unaddressed, stamped, unsealed envelope along with an empty envelope, that one self-addressed, stamped, and unsealed. Put that envelope in a larger one with a letter identifying the veteran to the best of your ability, and send or take it to your local VA office. If the VA can identify the veteran they will forward your note.
If you know where the veteran attended Boot Camp, you can try and contact that Army Post for graduation boot camp books... who shipped out to VN with the veteran? Many from boot camp were assigned to a Unit together once in country.
If you are a vet looking for buddies or the family of buddies check your own service record. It contains the names of those who received awards with you or received orders at the same time, that sort of thing. This might help positively identify someone
Veteran’s reunions are a good source.
You can find smaller unit reunions in the back of most veterans groups
magazines (ex. Amer. Legion, VFW, etc). There are also very large reunions held
every year for
Vietnam Veterans of America – “ The Veteran”, subscription available: The VVA Veteran – P.O. Box 64306 – Baltimore, MD 21264-4306 - $20.00 per year – source for connecting you to a Vietnam Veteran –“Did you know my Dad” - Section of magazine includes VVA Veteran Locator – 50 words or less, “looking for” please include date, name, address, city, state, and zip. Include phone number only if you would like it published. On the web: email: firstname.lastname@example.org – Look for VVA/AVVA Chapter in your area. VVA/AVVA, community services non-profit organizations. Vietnam Veterans of America or Associate Vietnam Veterans of America - 1224 M Street NW - Washington, DC 20005-5183 –On the web VVA- – AVVA-
National League of Families
Update Line 202-659-0133
American Ex-Prisoners of War (possible links to friends
National Headquarters of POW/MIAs)
email - email@example.com
NAMPOW (possible link to friends of POW/MIAs)
c/o Mike McGrath
email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, try some of the search, locator, and information sites listed later. This is only a sampling of what is out there.
You can check with the following organization to see if any family member has registered with them.
Sons and Daughters In Touch: http://www.sdit.org/
Find the casualty’s unit web site if there is one. Sign the guest book, send mail to the webmaster, join the unit organization, try ways to make contact and see if any member has personal information on the casualty or on his family.
A local newspaper in a casualty’s home of record may have something on the individual (obituaries/articles, friends may be listed) or even on the family that might provide leads. A personal letter to the editor requesting assistance can help (with your address, email address, phone number, etc.) – one successful example resulted in an article by the editor that friends mailed on and contact was made.
Alternatively a public library in a casualty’s home of record might have a copy of an obituary. Try and contact a research librarian and request a copy of the obituary, providing as much information as you can to help locate it. Obituaries will probably list next of kin, and may possibly list where they lived at that time. Another thing libraries may be able to offer is address listings from old telephone directories around the time of death and, say, up to 5 years before that.
If the individual may have been active in the church and you know which faith, they may have a history of Church members as well as Memorial Services. You could check with listed churches in the home of record.
Try searching the last name in web site directories, using both the email option and the address options. There are a lot of these sites; a few of them are:
Email people whose emails you get, starting perhaps with the home of record, then with the state of record, then beyond. Some answer and some don’t, but worth a try.
You can work up a brief note that will fit on a post card and mail out to the addresses you find that do not have email addresses. Post card size keeps it more affordable and brief without needing to be opened stands a better chance of being looked without being automatically grouped with junk mail.
You can check with the high schools in the home of record - they may be able to provide home address information. Might the high school have a web site? An alumni organization?
The funeral homes in the home of record might also be a source of information. If you have luck with the obituary they should tell you which one was used. If not you can try them all.
If you learn where a casualty was buried the cemetery will have care and plot ownership records. In this or any situation where an organization might have the contact data you need you can try composing a “double blind” letter. Include a very simple note asking the recipient to contact you (brief and simple is best) and place it in an unaddressed, stamped, unsealed envelope along with an empty envelope, that one self-addressed, stamped, and unsealed. Put that envelope in a larger one with a letter to the cemetery offices explaining what you are trying to do, and ask that they address and forward your included package to the owner of the plot. You can point out a lack of return address prevents your obtaining the final delivery address by default, and invite them to read your letter to the plot owner for reassurance before sealing it, addressing it, and mailing it. Finally, you might include a personal address label and ask the cemetery to mail your included letter back to you directly if they still object to forwarding it. This will at least give you positive closure of that avenue.
Check with the home of record VFW or Legion to see if they
kept records of men from the area killed in
Create a web page for the veteran with links to notify you.
Join AVVA (VVA can no longer have associate members) to receive "The VVA Veteran" magazine. Read the 'Locator' in "The VVA Veteran" and look for others looking for people in the veteran’s unit and get in touch with them to compare
lists. Post your own note in the ‘Locator.’
The Secretaries of the Military Departments maintain a military casualty office for each Military Service as the focal point on all casualty matters. The casualty officers are the first points of contact for family members and will address all inquiries regarding their cases. They work as a liaison between the family and all the other government agencies working the POW/MIA accounting issue. They consist of the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine casualty offices and in the case of civilians, the Department of State. This is also how to write to a returned POW, or to return a POW/MIA bracelet to one; or to write to the family of someone who is POW/MIA. To do this you should send your letter/bracelet in a properly stamped envelope to the appropriate branch of service with a cover letter asking them to forward your letter to (give the person’s name) or to the family of (give the person’s name). Due to the privacy act, Casualty officers cannot give out addresses. They can and do forward mail on request.
Lt.Col. Rosemary Salak,
800-892-2490 or metro area:
Lt. JG Lisa Flores
Navy Department, NMPC-N64DD
800-443-9298 or metro area:
Major Mark Ward
ATTN: Ann Hammers
HQ USMC (Code: MHP-10)
800-847-1597 or metro area:
Mr. George Atkinson
Randolph AFB, TX 78150-6001
800-531-5501 or in TX:
Mr. Michael Beatty or Ms. Jenny Foo
Department of State, VLC
USMC/VIETNAM HELICOPTER ASSOCIATION
Heli-Vets - Vietnam Helicopter Veterans Base Camp
Veteran and family search.
Social Security Death Index
Social Security Death Index
High School Alumni – Fee based service:
US Army Lost and Found (bulletin board)
Air Force e-mail Locator
American Veterans Confirmation Service
Marine Guest Book
Mom's Buddy Search and Message Board
National Archives and Records Administration
Info and Search Aids Index
Veteran Search - American
World Wide Web
Military locator service
Veterans Locator Ads
Veteran/Military Web Sites
Army Home Page
Navy Home Page
Marines Home Page
Air Force Home Page