The first thing you must do is be prepared to be disappointed.
Hundreds of thousands of military records were destroyed in a fire at the National Personnel Records Center in the 1970’s. Unfortunately, many of these were records of WWII soldiers. But, as the old saying says, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
If you have access to a computer, you should visit this web site:
You will be led through a series of steps to complete your request. Near the end will be a remarks section where you can ask for any special items such as replacement medals. These will be furnished only to the Veteran, his parents, spouse, children or siblings. If you do not fall in one of these categories, you will not be furnished replacements, but you can purchase them online. In the last step, you will print off a simple document which you will sign and send to the NPRC which simply confirms that you are the requester.
If you do not have access to a computer, you must complete a Standard Form 180 and mail it in. Write to me at Hansel Haycox, 11471 Rineyville Road, Vine Grove, KY 40175 and I will provide you a copy, or you may print a copy at this web site:
If you simply want replacement medals, and are qualified to receive them, write a letter requesting that the soldier’s separation documents be updated for current awards, and replacement medals be provided. The document to enclose may be either the DD Form 214 for relatively recent service, or WD AGO Form 35-53 for soldiers discharged in the 1940’s. The officials at NPRC will send you updated documents, and send the information on to US Army TACOM in Philadelphia, PA, and that office will issue the replacement medals.
If you are unable to locate a DD Form 214 or WD AGO Form 35-53, you might try writing a letter to the nearest VA Hospital and ask for copies of his VA records. In your letter, begin the request with the phrase “Under the Authority of the Freedom of Information Act, I request…”
You might also contact the county clerk where the soldier lived when he was discharged. Soldiers were encouraged to file a copy of the separation document with the County Clerk.
If your veteran was a member of the VFW, American Legion, or other veteran’s organizations, check with the group where your veteran was a member. Often times they will require a copy of the separation papers for verification of eligibility, and will keep it on file.
For personalized assistance, you might also check the local county clerks office. Often there is a volunteer Veteran’s Assistance Officer available. Community Colleges also often have a Veteran’s Assistance Officer available. When you visit them, take all available information with you. At a minimum, you should have the veteran’s full name, branch of service, and serial number.
All the above assumes your veteran is or was in the Army. If using a computer at the E-VetRecs site, your request will be forwarded to the appropriate site. If using the Standard Form 180, the last page contains a listing of the other services (including Army Air Corps) and the addresses to send the information to. Send your request (for Army Personnel) to: National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records, 1 Archives Drive, St Louis, MO 63138-1002
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at the address above, or by telephone at (270) 877-6045 or by email at HLRMHAYCOX@BBTEL.COM.
-Hansel Haycox, Historian — Merrill’s Marauders Proud Descendants