Research Aid


Finding information about personal participation in World War II can be challenging: nearly 16 million Americans served in uniform during the Second World War. Listed below are a few tips to get you started. If you need help with your research, please contact us at info@16thinfantry.com, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Individual Who Never Made It Home
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. The Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF), also known as a 293 file, contains information about what happened to the body from the time the soldier was killed until it was placed in a permanent cemetery. The contents vary depending upon the situation. There might be information about the circumstances of the person’s death, the date and exact location where the body was recovered, a record of the burial in a temporary cemetery and paperwork indicating personal effects. IDPFs are now considered public information and can be obtained by submitting in writing a letter to the following address:

Department of the Army
U.S. Army Human Resources Command
ATTN: AHRC-FOIA
1600 Spearhead Division Avenue, Dept. 107
Fort Knox, Kentucky 40122-5504
usarmy.knox.hrc.mbx.foia@mail.mil

Enclosed in the letter you should cite the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and provide full name of the soldier, service number, and date of death. Please note: because of the number of request the FOIA Department receives, it may take up to forty eight weeks to process and release records to you.


After World War II ended, the next of kin was asked whether he or she wanted the body to be interred at a permanent American Military Cemetery overseas, or to be returned to the United States for interment in a private cemetery. If the deceased was buried overseas and you want information on a gravesite or possible memorial site, contact the American Battle Monuments Commission. The ABMC maintains a database listing every man buried in their cemeteries. More information on the ABMC can be found at http://www.abmc.gov/.


Today, more than 73,000 Americans remain unaccounted for from World War II. Although as many as 8,597 soldiers were actually recovered, they were never positively identified. Unknown soldiers were assigned an X number since there was no serial number by which to identify them. For each X number, the army created a file containing all paperwork related to the case. This included burial reports, search and recovery efforts, skeletal details and dental charts. These so-called X-files are stored at the Washington National Records Center in Suitland, Maryland.


If your research involves the loss of an aircraft in a combat situation, the Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) will be a valuable resource. This multi-page booklet was prepared by the unit to which the individual was assigned, and often contains information about each crew member, witness statements, weather conditions, destination of the flight plan, maps and coordinates. Please note: at least 30 percent of all operational losses are not documented by a MACR. MACRs are available at NARA or at http://www.fold3.com/


Individual Who Made It Home After The War
There were many different records generated on individual soldiers during the war. The main record of information kept on a specific soldier was the Official Military Personnel File (OMPF), as it represents the complete, verified record of a service member’s time in the military. Unfortunately, the vast majority of World War II-era Army service records were damaged or lost in the disastrous 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. In the years following the fire, the NPRC collected numerous series of records that are used to reconstruct basic service information. To obtain a copy of an archival record you may visit the NPRC Archival Research Room or submit a signed Standard Form 180 (Request Pertaining to Military Records). The form is available online at http://www.archives.gov/.

National Personnel Records Center
ATTN: Military Personnel Records
1 Archives Drive
St. Louis, Missouri 63138
Email: mpr.center@nara.gov


About 130,000 American soldiers, sailors and airmen were caputered by the enemy during World War II. Records of World War II Prisoners of War are accessible through http://www.archives.gov/aad/. The records provide name, serial number, race, branch of service, type of organization, place and date of capture and detaining power. 


How To Obtain Unit Records
Every unit in the U.S. Army had to keep specific records of their activities. Although the majority of the records were handled at battalion, regiment or division level, records of each day’s personnel changes were all handled on a company level. Before you start your search, you will need to know the exact name and number of the unit you wish to research. The National Archives in College Park, Maryland, has most records of Army, Army Air Forces, Marine Corps, and Navy units and ships that fought in World War II.

National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001
Telephone: 301-837-2000


The most useful of all unit records are the After Action Reports (AAR), but it is generally very difficult to locate information on individual veterans in these records. These reports provide an overview of what a unit did in a given month, often in narrative form. After Action Reports generally details the actions of the unit, what enemy troops it fought and how many casualties it took. If you are interested in ordering copies, you can contact the National Archives in College Park, Maryland, or hire an independent researcher to examine the records on your behalf.


World War II lasted 2,194 days. Every day, whether in training or on the battlefield, a so-called Morning Report was issued from each company to higher headquarters. A Morning Report is a daily history of the unit and accounts for every officer or enlisted man assigned to that specific company. This report indicated any changes in personnel in the last 24 hours (e.g. killed, wounded or missing in action). Army Morning Reports, dated 1912-1959, and all Air Force Morning Reports, can be obtained by visiting the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri, or by employing an independent researcher to examine the records on your behalf. Below are listed in convenient form the military abbreviations often found in Morning Reports.

Morning Report Example

Absent without leave
AWOL
Appointed
Aptd
Army Post Office
APO
Assigned
Asgd or Assgd
Assignment
Asgmt
Attached
Atchd
Battalion
Bn
Battle casualty
BC
Detached
Det
Detached service
DS
Died of injuries
DOI
Died of wounds
DOW
Died non-battle
DNB
Duty
Dy
Enlisted men
EM
Finding of death
FOD
From
Fr
Hospital
Hosp
Injured in action
IIA
Joined
Jd
Leave
Lv
Lightly injured in action
LIA
Lightly wounded in action
LWA
Main civilian occupation
MCO
Military occupational specialty
MOS
Missing in action
MIA
Non-battle casualty
NBC
Non-commissioned officer
NCO
Paragraph
Par
Reduced
Rd
Relieved
Reld
Replacement
Repl
Reported
Reptd
Seriously injured in action
SIA
Seriously wounded in action
SWA
Service specialty number
SSN
Sick
Sk
Temporary duty
Td
Transferred
Trfd
Unassigned
Unasgd
Wounded in action
WIA
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