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Research 101
Old 10-29-2004, 05:43 AM   #1
Luftm40
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Default Research 101

I've been collecting militaria for about 30 years. Mainly German, but also some US. I've recently begun picking up nicer, named US uniform sets. Mainly because I have found that the internet has opened up a treasure trove of research options that just never existed in the old days, and I get a real kick out of putting a service record w/ a faded name in a jacket. Also, US items are still comparatively inexpensive and can be found "out of the woodwork" here in the US w/ relative ease. I think it would be neat for some of our more experienced US collectors to give a run down on how to research, say, a name and ser# in a uniform. Perhaps including links to websites, mailing addresses, advice etc. This thread could then be pinned at the top of the US forum. Personally, I have found that once I get the guy's basic data, I'm off to the races. What I have done the last few times is go to the man's state veteran organizations to get more detailed info. I'm at a loss however when it comes to taking the first step. I think the info is buried in the NARA website someplace, but theirs in not a user friendly format! I'll start by listing some websites that I have found helpful...

A ton of different links and addresses
http://members.aol.com/dadswar/index.htm#frststep

US Social Security Death Index (SSDI). This will tell you when someone died, and most importantly WHERE they died so you can pursue state level research. I have found that the guys who lived in small towns are the easiest to get info on.
http://www.ancestry.com/search/recty.../ssdi/main.htm
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Old 10-29-2004, 10:49 AM   #2
Ben
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Hi Andy,

the risk of this is also that unscrupulous individuals will start putting names and ASN# in generic (read lower value) uniforms and equipment. I have already seen this happening and it's becoming a bigger issue day by day.
Too bad it has come this far already but with the prices for "named" US items (specially Airborne) going up tremendously and very rapidly it is hardly unexpected.
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Researching American Veterans
Old 10-30-2004, 08:12 PM   #3
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Default Researching American Veterans

This is just my personal opinion, and I’m sure a lot of you will disagree, but fakers and crooks are always going to find ways to be fakers and crooks. I joined this website to LEARN; I did not spend $25 on membership fees just to walk on eggshells-- worrying about what information might end up in the hands of dishonest sellers. The best collector is an informed collector, and IMHO we do a disservice to forum members when we avoid giving information simply because some dishonest person might learn too.

Now that I am off my soap box, here is what I know about researching veterans.

--- Links Updated July 29, 2011 ---

1) I prefer this SSDI: http://ssdi.genealogy.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/ssdi.cgi it’s free and you don’t have to log in or join.

2) WWII Army Service Number Records: http://aad.archives.gov/aad/title-list.jsp Click on "World War II;" the databases should be self-explanitory. Granted, not 100% perfect or complete (some 10% of records are missing, and up to 20% could have errors), but still useful. Note: You can no longer research "laundry marks" as the search engine requires two characters before any wildcard.

3) Once you know who you are looking for, http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/standard-form-180.html. Download the Standard Form 180; complete (be sure to mention the Freedom of Information Act) and mail (or fax) to the NPRC. Wait. And wait. And wait.

4) The AFHRA (http://www.afhra.af.mil/) great for researching official lineages or ordering squadron histories. Sometimes they’ll print out the histories for you, and sometimes you have to purchase microfilm. Site also has some very informative pages.

5) For researching personnel buried overseas: http://www.abmc.gov/home.php. Instructions for obtaining an Individual Deceased Personnel File: http://www.ehow.com/how_7546748_obtain-individual-deceased-personnel-file.html (I cannot find an official US Army link for obtaining IDPFs.) Though I believe there is one error-- these are not free, processing fees apply. Also, I do not know the addresses for Navy/USMC IDPFs.

6) I use http://www.gruntsmilitary.com/armyribs.php for quickly identifying ribbons.

7) Officer Registers-- Available in many larger public libraries and universities.

8) Google: http://www.google.com/ You would be surprised how much information I find via Google.

Last edited by Bill D.; 10-11-2011 at 10:49 AM. Reason: NARA changed some URLs. Plus, purple text is too difficult to read on a red background.
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Old 12-09-2004, 01:04 PM   #4
Chris Boonzaier
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I have a private purchase kukri marked Jack E Ward O-16487515 or 1648755 but I cannot seem to find anything in any f the data bases... is there anything that can be found out with that info ?
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Old 12-09-2004, 01:45 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Boonzaier
I have a private purchase kukri marked Jack E Ward O-16487515 or 1648755 but I cannot seem to find anything in any f the data bases... is there anything that can be found out with that info ?
Hi Chris,
I just tried a search at the NARA site and came up with 6 Jack Wards
The way I searched is to use his name Ward Jack E And omit the ASN that you have. that looks to be a Officers ASN and I'm not sure but I think NARA only list Enlisted ASNs. I hope someone with more experience in this area may be able to help as I'm fairly new to this research thing.

Good Luck,
Charlie
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Old 12-09-2004, 10:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Boonzaier
O-16487515 or 1648755
That's an officer's service number, all right. The only way you're going to get quick info on the fellow is if he was a Regular Army officer who is listed in the Army Register. Otherwise, it's "try your luck" with a written research request to the NPRC.

--Dave
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Old 12-10-2004, 01:27 AM   #7
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I have often thought that a nice "how to" when it came to researching names and numbers should be pinned.
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Old 12-11-2004, 04:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NavyFCO
That's an officer's service number, all right. The only way you're going to get quick info on the fellow is if he was a Regular Army officer who is listed in the Army Register. Otherwise, it's "try your luck" with a written research request to the NPRC.

--Dave
Dave,

How do you get access to the Army Register? I have an April, 1951 dated promotion document to a "COL John William Donnell, Regular Army" that I am trying to research.

Ben
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Old 12-11-2004, 05:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zzman
Dave,

How do you get access to the Army Register? I have an April, 1951 dated promotion document to a "COL John William Donnell, Regular Army" that I am trying to research.

Ben
Ben-

There are quite a few gents on the forum that have Registers (including myself). I think most of us have just bought them here-and-there... Used book stores, eBay, yard sales, etc... Most large libraries have a full stock of them (as well as some smaller libraries-just depending on what kind of stock they have) and you can just ask the librarian to pull it for you (they're normally down in the basement or other storage, not normally on the shelves). I'm at work right now, but I'll look your guy up when I get home.

--Dave
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Old 12-12-2004, 10:44 AM   #10
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Dave,

Thanks for your help and I look forward to hearing what you find.

Ben

Quote:
Originally Posted by NavyFCO
Ben-

There are quite a few gents on the forum that have Registers (including myself). I think most of us have just bought them here-and-there... Used book stores, eBay, yard sales, etc... Most large libraries have a full stock of them (as well as some smaller libraries-just depending on what kind of stock they have) and you can just ask the librarian to pull it for you (they're normally down in the basement or other storage, not normally on the shelves). I'm at work right now, but I'll look your guy up when I get home.

--Dave
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Old 12-14-2004, 08:39 PM   #11
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thanks for the sites. hopefully they are helpful for me.
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Old 12-16-2004, 12:16 AM   #12
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Ben-

Sorry for the delay. Here's the entry for your fellow:



--Dave
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Old 12-24-2004, 04:28 PM   #13
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Thanks for the info.

Ben
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Old 12-26-2004, 09:04 PM   #14
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Just found this webpage and it has a great compilation of links (most are on here, but there are a few other good ones, particularly for AAF research). Enjoy!

http://www.armyairforces.com/help.asp

--Dave
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Tracking down military unit information
Old 03-16-2005, 02:03 PM   #15
Shawn Southern
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Default Tracking down military unit information

Armed with only a serviceman's name and service number, what research avenues would you use to try to identify the unit(s) he served in? I am trying to help a friend whose dad served in the AAF in WWII. I was able to locate a service number for him from the NARA site. My buddy is extremely interested in knowing this information. Unfortunately, no family records exist.

Shawn
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Researching and collecting German Musician and Band related material for all organizations and military branches, 1900-1945. Always seeking such material.
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