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Veterans' Records Access Procedures
Award and Decoration Inquiries
United Kingdom and Commonwealth Inquiries

Veterans' Records Access Procedures

There's been a lot of indirect information appearing lately given about finding records and awards for veterans. I've 'gone to the well' to find the authorities. I now try giving you just enough information to know which direction to go, together with visible links (web addresses) directly to the responsible federal agencies.

If you should find more helpful resources - not second-hand - that should be cited, please send me an e-mail - skelly@milhist.net - to suggest inclusion here.


Service Records • Basic Approach

On the matter of getting service records, the proper channel is the
National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR),
   http://www.archives.gov/facilities/mo/st_louis/military_personnel_records.html

Here you find the Standard Form 180, "Request Pertaining to Military Records",
   http://www.archives.gov/research/order/standard-form-180.pdf
which can be downloaded into your computer or 'faxed' to you. They also suggest several other sources for the form which may be local for you. The only thing you can do by e-mail is to ask that a form be mailed to you.

If you are unable to obtain this form, that web page lists the information that should be included in an equivalent letter, addressed to:

National Personnel Records Center
Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR)
9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis MO 63132-5100.


Service Records • Restricted Approach

If you are a military veteran, or the next of kin of a deceased former member of the military, NPRC offers another path: eVetRecs,
   https://vetrecs.archives.gov/VeteranRequest/home.asp
The next of kin can be only be one of the following: a "surviving spouse that has not remarried, father, mother, son, daughter, sister, or brother".

You submit the request via a special e-mail message generated by the eVetRecs program, however ...
 • The eVetRecs program requires, as far as I could probe, current 'glitz and glitter' web browsers and high-speed access on your machines in order to reasonably load and execute. 'Javascript' support is a must.
 • Even if you can load and follow through on the program, you may not be able to print the necessary "Signature Verification Form" which is to be mailed of faxed. There is, however, a work-around if you get that far.


Death/Burial Record For Those Killed Overseas

The paragraphs below are taken from the U.S. Army Human Resources Command FAQ
   https://www.hrc.army.mil/site/active/faqs.htm
There is no e-mail or telephone avenue for this request. Any requests, anywhere, for documents under the Freedom of Information Act should include your printed/typed name, signature, and mailing address.

If a relative was killed overseas during WWII, Korea, or Vietnam, the death/burial record (also known as the Individual Deceased Personnel Files) can be obtained by submitting in writing a letter to the following address:

U.S. Army Human Resources Command
Public Affairs Office (FOIA)
200 Stovall Street
Alexandria, VA 22332-0404.

Enclosed in the letter the requestor should cite the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and provide full name of the relative, service number, and date of death (or whether the death was during WWII, Korea, or Vietnam).

Return mailing address is required. Please allow up to 20 weeks for the research process. FOIA fees are waived for requests from family members for death/burial records on their loved ones


The 1973 Fire, Reconstructing Information

Comments seen online such as "... St. Louis said the records don't exist anymore" are only half-true. Here, in two parts, is the full story.
 • Information related to the loss of records at the NPRC is found at The 1973 Fire
   http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/fire-1973.html
 • Use of alternate sources to reconstruct basic service information is reported at Alternate Record Sources,
   http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/alternate-record-sources.html#mprmalt


Award and Decoration Inquiries

Military Service Medals, Decorations, and Awards

Requests for the issuance or replacement of military service medals, decorations, and awards [for Army Personnel] should be directed to ... the National Personnel Records Center [which] will verify the awards to which a veteran is entitled and forward the request with the verification ... for issuance of the medals.

The Standard Form 180 (SF-180), "Request Pertaining to Military Records",
   http://www.archives.gov/research/order/standard-form-180.pdf
is recommended for requesting medals and awards. Provide as much information as possible and send the form to:

National Personnel Records Center
Medals Section (NRPMA-M)
9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis MO 63132-5100.

Generally, there is no charge for medal or award replacements. The length of time to receive a response or your medals and awards varies depending upon the branch of service sending the medals.


Foreign Awards

To the question of obtaining foreign awards, the US Government does not provide the medals for those awards. They must be requested from the government of their issuing nation. I am attempting to document further information in this regard.

With respect to the French Croix de Guerre with Palm awarded to the US 34th Infantry Division and 88th Infantry Division, I found - unofficially but reliably - that it was applies to the personnel of those units assigned - not attached - to the divisions in the interval 1 December 1943 - 31 July 1944, as authorized by Department of the Army General Order 43-50.

This should - again, not officially confirmed - include the 100th Infantry Battalion (Nisei) which had been assigned to the 133rd Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division, in that period.


United Kingdom and Commonwealth Inquiries

The information in this section is taken directly from the U.K. Ministry of Defence Veterans Agency webpage,
Veterans Agency - Service Records,
   http://www.veterans-uk.info/service_records/service_records.html

To access a record the following information (or as much as possible) is required:
• Service Number, Rank, Full Name, Date of Birth and period served (dates from and to). For queries to the Army also state the Regiment or Corps in addition to the above information.
• A full copy of the record can be requested however, original documents, discharge papers/books cannot be replaced. The MOD will also provide extracts from service records.

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