Our thanks to Dr. Vivian Rogers-Price, Research Center Director of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, for sharing much of the following advice on where to obtain military personnel records.
See also the National WWII Museum Guide to “Researching American Military and Civilian Records from World War II.“ This 36-page guide to researching American military and civilian records from WWII can be ordered from the National WWII Museum . Click here to go to the order page and submit your request. Within minutes you will receive an email with a link so that you can download the report.
- National Personnel Records Center, 1 Archives Dr., St. Louis, MO 63138.
- Official Military Personnel Files: How to Request Copies of Records: https://www.archives.gov/st-louis/archival-programs/military-personnel-archival/ompf-archival-requests.html
- Records become archival and open to the public 62 years after the service member’s separation from the military. Records of individuals who left service less than 62 years ago are non-archival and remain in the legal custody of the Department of Defense. The WWII records from “H” though “W” may not be available because of the 1973 fire. Non-archival records are subject to access restrictions. If you are a veteran or next-of-kin of a deceased veteran who left service less than 62 years ago, you may use https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records to order a copy of your non-archival military records. For all others, your request is best made using a Standard Form 180 available at https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/standard-form-180.html. Access those records is restricted by privacy laws (see Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)).
- Also available by appointment at the National Archives in St. Louis are Army Morning reports and Unit Rosters, dated 1912-1959 and all Air Force Morning Reports. For additional information about these see: https://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/morning-reports-and-unit-rosters.html.
- 2. For Veterans Buried Overseas
- 3. American War Memorials Overseas (best for memorials in France):
- 4. Missing Air Crew Reports: https://www.fold3.com/. Fold 3 provides convenient access to US military records, including the MACRs and official U.S. Air Force World War II photographs.
- 5. Enlistment Records, POW Records, Escape & Evasion (E&E) Reports, Mission Reports, and Missing Air Crew Reports. Contact:
- The National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Rd., College Park, MD 20740-6001. 1-866-272-6272 or 301-837-3510; fax 301-837-0483. https://www.archives.gov/contact.
- Enlistment & POW Records: https://aad.archives.gov/aad/series-list.jsp?cat+WR26. (AAD refers to “Access to Archival Databases”.)
- Escape and Evasion Reports, 1942-1945: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/305270
- Mission Reports: Ask about the WWII Combat Operations Reports, 1941-1946, which are unofficially known as Mission Reports. These are arranged by category of unit (group, squadron, etc.). When you visit the National Archives, the “Mission Reports” will tell date, target, loading lists for each mission that will tell you exactly who flew on that mission, and where each aircraft flew in the formation. Debriefing reports that relate events during the mission are included.
- Missing Air Crew Reports (MACR): https://www.archives.gov/research/military/ww2/missing-air-crew-reports.html. This site allows you to order copies.
- For an overview of NARA resources: https://www.archives.gov/research/military/ww2.
- 6. Aircraft Accident Reports, 8th AAF Daily Intops Summaries, 8th AAF Individual Squadron, Group, Wing, Division, and HQ Records, and some Mission Reports. These may be found at the Air Force Historical Research Agency (600 Chennault Circle, Maxwell AFB, AL 36112-6424). You must provide mission date, unit (bomb group & squadron), target, and mission number if known. Information on all Bomb Groups and Bomb Squadrons that may contain aircraft assignments, maintenance records, crash reports, etc., is available although there is a fee. Some crew pictures are available if you provide squadron and unit numbers. Their informational website is http://www.afhra.af.mil/ . Their website at http://airforcehistoryindex.org/ allows you to search their catalog listings for 550,000 historical Air Force documents. Contact information for AFHRA is:
- HQ AFHRA/RSA
- 600 Chennault Circle
- Maxwell AFB, AL 36112-6424
- Email: email@example.com
7. To Request Military Awards and Decorations. Visit the following site for instructions on how to request or replace military medals: https://www.archives.gov/veterans/replace-medals.html
8. Additional Resources
- A website noted for telling the story of the US Army Air Forces in Britain during the Second World War, and which contains an interactive database for veterans, aircraft, missions, and locations is: http://www.americanairmuseum.com/.
- A bomb group website with a remarkable variety of resources: http://www.306bg.us/.
- A website noted for its forum and research databases was http://www.armyairforces.com/. Although the link still functions, the website has shut down and The Heritage League of the 2nd Air Division is replacing it at http://www.heritageleague.org/aaf-forum-project.html.
- A website devoted to B-24 units and aircraft data, including an aircraft serial number search engine is to be found at http://www.b24bestweb.com/.
- For information on fighter groups in the 8th Army Air Force Command, see: http://www.littlefriends.co.uk/ .
- For websites on the 8th Air Force, bomb groups, and fighter groups, see: https://wwii-netherlands-escape-lines.com/links-to-other-escape-and-evasion-websites/united-states-army-air-forces-usaaf/world-war-ii-bomb-groups/.
- For the websites on the 9th Air Force, see: https://wwii-netherlands-escape-lines.com/links-to-other-escape-and-evasion-websites/united-states-army-air-forces-usaaf/9th-air-force/ .
- For websites on the 12th Air Force, see: https://wwii-netherlands-escape-lines.com/links-to-other-escape-and-evasion-websites/united-states-army-air-forces-usaaf/12th-air-force/.
- For websites on the 15th Air Force, see: https://wwii-netherlands-escape-lines.com/links-to-other-escape-and-evasion-websites/united-states-army-air-forces-usaaf/15th-air-force/.
- For U.S. airfields in the U.K., see: https://wwii-netherlands-escape-lines.com/links-to-other-escape-and-evasion-websites/united-states-army-air-forces-usaaf/world-war-ii-u-s-airfields-in-the-u-k/.
- A FAQ on “How Do I Learn About an Allied Airman Who Was Shot Down?” is to be found at: https://wwii-netherlands-escape-lines.com/faqs/how-do-i-learn-about-an-allied-airman-who-was-shot-down/.
9. Books in Digital Format
- Combat Units of The Air Force WW II, edited by Maurer Maurer, 1963, No. 140 of the Numbered USAF Historical Studies at: http://www.afhra.af.mil/Information/Studies/.
- Combat Squadrons of The Air Force WWII, edited by Maurer Maurer, 1969, No. 82 of the Numbered USAF Historical Studies at: http://www.afhra.af.mil/Information/Studies/.