Military Records Research

Did your father or grandfather serve in the United States military during World War II? Did your uncle fight in Korea? Did your mother or grandmother serve as a nurse or volunteer pilot in the military? Do you want to know more about their service?

If you are interested in learning more about a relative’s (or any veteran’s) military service during World War I, World War II, or the Korean War, I can help you. I am a professional historian with degrees from the University of Chicago and Princeton, I have published in top academic journals, and I have years of experience researching in archives across the world of all shapes and sizes, making me intimately familiar with the special techniques necessary to hunt down old military records. I can deploy my vast skill set to help you tell your relative’s story.

While there are many incredible resources on military history available on the internet, the types of records I can help you locate are not available online. These include a veteran’s official military personnel file, the records of their combat unit, and other sources that are not digitized.

If you are interested in learning more about how to carry out research yourself, I can also advise you about research techniques during a Skype call or consultation about research techniques.

Individual Veteran’s Records Research and Analysis ($350)

With this option I will carry out a full search of existing military records pertaining to your specific veteran who survived the war, as well as other contemporary records. I also interpret these documents (many of which are written in hard-to-understand military terminology) and construct an explanatory narrative for you. This normally takes about 6-8 hours of research time in total; however, some documents may take weeks or months to obtain from government sources. I will update you via email at various points on the progress of my research.

I charge a flat fee for this, plus the cost of ordering copies of documents from various government sources.

Sources I usually find include:

  • Your veteran’s Official Military Personnel File (OMPF), if available.
    • (Please note that, tragically, most OMPF files for veterans in the Army and the Army Air Forces were destroyed in a devastating 1973 fire. Archivists have been able to reconstruct some files, but not all. Navy and Marine Corps records were unaffected.)
  • Copies of the veteran’s draft card (Selective Service card).
  • Records of the veteran’s discharge from the military.
  • A search of local newspapers for mention of the veteran in question.
  • For Army and Army Air Force veterans, a representative After Action Report detailing one day of combat.

With this package I will organize the files so that you can better understand them, and provide explanations for military acronyms, etc. used in the files.

Please note that while unit-level sources may be consulted to gain additional detail, this service focuses on records for a specific individual. If you would like to research unit-level records, please see my unit research service below.

Individual Veteran’s Records Research ($250)

For this service I will research a specific veteran in the same way as described in the above option, locating all available documents pertaining to them. Unlike the above service, this option does not come with any interpretive report. (That service can be added on later if you would like.)

Individual Military Casualty Record Research and Analysis ($325)

If you are interested in researching a veteran who was killed or missing in action, select this option. I will carry out a full search for all existing records on this veteran, and I will interpret these documents (many of which are written in hard-to-understand military terminology) and construct an explanatory narrative for you. This normally takes about 6-8 hours of research time in total; however, some documents may take weeks or months to obtain from government sources. I will update you via email at various points on the progress of my research.

I charge a flat fee for this, plus the cost of ordering copies of documents from various government sources.

Documents I usually find include:

  • Records of the veteran’s death, including date, cause, and location.
  • Name and home address of designated next-of-kin and/or beneficiaries.
  • Date of entry of service along with address and hometown.
  • Records of the recovery and identification of his remains.
  • Copies of correspondence between the military and next-of-kin regarding his death.
  • Inventory of personal effects, possessions, and documentation tracing their return, if any.
  • All records of original burial location, as well as all records of permanent interment.

Individual Military Casualty Record Research ($250)

For this service I will research a specific veteran who was killed or missing in action in the same way as described in the above option, locating all available documents pertaining to them. Unlike the above service, though, this option does not come with any interpretive report. (That service can be added on later if you would like.)

Unit Research (request a quote)

This service includes full research on a military unit (a battalion, division, air crew, naval crew, etc.) over any length of time during World War II or the Korean War. Sources consulted in this research service include unit histories, unit diaries, and After Action Reports, among others. Whether you want to know about a specific incident or operation or are interested in tracing a unit’s path during the entire war, I can help you.

Using this method, it is possible to track a relative’s path across Europe or the Pacific. You receive copies of all sources I find, as well as a comprehensive analytical report detailing the findings.

As the time required for unit research varies drastically depending on size, the time period to be examined (i.e. one flight, an operation, or the entire war) and available records, the price for this research service varies.

If you are interested in this research service, please contact me for a quote here.

Analysis of Records You Have Found ($150)

If you have located military records on an individual but need help interpreting them, select this option. I can take a look at anything you have found in your own personal research, and organize and interpret it for you. If you are interested in this service, please contact me here. I will be in touch via email to request the records you have found. I can also tell you if there may be more records available on your particular individual.

Research Consultation ($75/hour)

If you are conducting your own research into military records and need help in any way—be it locating records, understanding documents you have already found, or any other topic—I can schedule a research consultation with you on Skype or over the phone.

Please contact me here to set up an appointment. Note that $70 is the minimum charge for any research consultation, even those less than an hour.