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* How to Get Military Personnel Records from the National Archives

Do you have a parent or grandparent who served in the US Military? Want to know more about their service? The National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR) has millions of records from WWI- present day.

If you are the veteran or the next of kin of a deceased veteran you can use the National Archives eVetRecs online system to start your records request online. You can also download form SF-180 to fill out by hand and send your request via snail mail. Even if you complete the online request, you still have to print out a form to sign and send via fax or mail to the records center in St. Louis.

I've had a great experience so far! When my family found my grandfather's WW2 medals, I immediately wanted to know more. We were limited with information, he is deceased and we didn't have any records or documentation. I completed an online records request and mailed in the signed form about 3 weeks ago. I was so excited yesterday when I checked the mail and found a nice thick envelope from the National Personnel Records Center!

I received many documents, including typed letters of recommendation submitted by a NJ Congressman and Senator to the Army in 1946 on behalf of my grandfather, his division information from WWII, and documentation for his medals. More to come on what I've learned from these documents!

This is a FREE service! Check out the National Archives Website for more information.

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Reader Comments (3)

I have also sent requests to NARA for my great-grandfather and my granduncle's WWI records. I have run into a snafu that folks should be aware of: If the military records were housed in St. Louis in 1973, there is a good chance they no longer exist due to a fire in the facility. The records will have to be "re-created" from other existing records. Even my father's records from Vietnam were lost. The only records he has are his DD-214 and whatever medical records he had on his person. He never even received his last 2 paychecks from the Army. I am now having to search for additional information to give to NARA so they can recreate the records. Unfortunately, most of the information they seek is information I was hoping to obtain FROM the records.

Also - the service is only free if you qualify as "next of kin." Otherwise it costs about $75 (or more).

Jul 31, 2011 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterJenny Lanctot

Thank you for sharing your experience Jenny, I didn't realize the fee for non "next of kin" relatives. Good luck on your pursuit! I hope our experiences will inspire other veteran descendants to seek out information. By now I hope we have all learned enough lessons and will store this precious information in a fireproof manner.

Aug 13, 2011 at 2:37 AM | Registered Commenterabbyb

It is true that the fire in 1973 destroyed a lot of records at the National Archives. Marine Corps and Navy personnel records were, for the most part, not impacted by the fire. However, because many U.S. Army and Air Corps records were destroyed in the fire it is often advisable to hire a military research specialist to reconstruct the records for you. The military kept daily unit records that allow specialists to trace the steps of individual veterans, showing you where they were and what they did during their military service. If you have been told that your loved one's records do not exist because of the fire don't despair. There are still many avenues of research that can tell us a great deal about what dad or grandpa did during the war.

Jan 29, 2012 at 4:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterMilit

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