Military genealogy is a good way to celebrate Veteran’s Day. In honor of this year’s Veteran’s Day, I dedicate this post to saying “Thank you” to all veterans. Let us remember all the sacrifices that veterans made just so we could have safety and freedom. Do a genealogy search for the military veterans in your family. Always keep in mind: “Freedom is not free.” No amount of appreciation is enough to honor our veterans.
This is also a special time for me to remember some of the heroes in my family and community including my big brother John A. Smith (Viet Nam era), my father Alfred Burton Smith, paternal uncles Joseph and John Baptiste Smith, maternal uncle Owen Cameron, the Navajo Code Talkers (Native American WWll soldiers who confounded the enemy by talking in an unbreakable code); Tuskegee Airmen (America’s first military Black airmen); Montford Point Marines (first Black Marines, WWll), Buffalo Soldiers, and other veterans who “fought for the right to fight.” This year’s New York 94th Annual Veteran’s Day Parade theme is “Women in Service.” So, a special salute to all women who served our nation is always in order too. Thank you, Women Warriors! Sending up love and light to all veterans and their families.
What about your military ancestors. Would you like to know more about your family’s military genealogy?
How to do military genealogy: If you want to do a genealogy search for military veterans in your family history, there are many resources available to you online. But, you must first ask yourself many questions before you get started. What do you want to know? Many times your search will lead to more questions! Here is an overview from National Archives about how to approach your search: “When researchers contact the National Archives to conduct research on their ancestors, they often ask about records relating to military service. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. The inquiry, in fact, leads to more questions: What branch of service did the person serve in? Do you know the conflict they fought in or their dates of service? Was the person in the Regular Army or a volunteer unit? Did the individual serve as an officer or enlisted man? Did the person apply for or receive a pension? These questions are important, for the answers help determine which search paths to follow. The two main repositories for records relating to military service are the National Archives and the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC). The National Archives Building, Washington, D.C., holds records relating to
- Volunteer enlisted men and officers whose military service was performed during an emergency and whose service was considered to be in the federal interest, 1775 to 1902
- Regular Army enlisted personnel, serving 1789–October 31, 1912
- Regular Army officers, serving 1789–June 30, 1917
- U.S. Navy enlisted personnel, serving 1798–1885
- U.S. Navy officers, serving 1798–1902
- U.S. Marine Corps enlisted personnel, serving 1798–1904
- Some U.S. Marine Corps officers, serving 1798–1895
- Those who served in predecessor agencies to the U.S. Coast Guard (i.e., the Revenue Cutter Service [Revenue Marine], the Life-Saving Service, and the Lighthouse Service, 1791–1919)
The National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, Missouri, holds military personnel files of
- U.S. Army officers separated after June 30, 1917, and enlisted personnel separated after October 31, 1912
- U.S. Air Force officers and enlisted personnel separated after September 1947
- U.S. Navy officers separated after 1902 and enlisted personnel separated after 1885
- U.S. Marine Corps officers separated after 1895 and enlisted personnel separated after 1904
- U.S. Coast Guard officers separated after 1928 and enlisted personnel separated after 1914; civilian employees of Coast Guard predecessor agencies such as Revenue Cutter Service, Lifesaving Service, and Lighthouse Service, 1864–1919
To request copies of an individual’s military personnel file held at the National Personnel Records Center, use a Standard Form 180, “Request Pertaining to Military Records.” For more information on what records are available at NPRC and who may request them, consult their web site. Locating the Records The records and microfilm publications described here are available at the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C. Some microfilm publications are available at NARA’s regional facilities. Consult the online Microfilm Catalog to find out which facilities may have the microfilm you are looking for. For researchers unable to visit the National Archives, copies of compiled military service records, pension files, and bounty land records held by NARA can be obtained through the mail. To obtain the proper request form, please write to Old Military and Civil Records, National Archives and Records Administration, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20408-0001. NATF Form 80 is now obsolete and has been replaced by NATF Form 85, “National Archives Order for Copies of Federal Pension or Bounty Land Warrant Applications,” and Form 86, “National Archives Order for Copies of Military Service Records.” Forms can also be requested through our web site. If requesting information on military records related to Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard personnel, please do not use a form; send a written inquiry either by mail to the address above or by email to Contact NARA. For additional information beyond the scope of this article, consult the Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives of the United States (2000). There is a section on military records containing chapters on records of the Regular Army, service records of volunteers, naval and marine service records, pension records, bounty land warrant records, and other records relating to military service.”
Are you looking for family history military records? Please share your story.