Navel History
June 12, 2011 10:15 PM   Subscribe

My Mom and Dad served in the US Navy during WWII. What's the best way(s) to find their service records (and any other info/accounts on their service)?

Both were exceptionally quiet about their experiences and history. I know Dad served in the Pacific and Mom was a WAV in San Francisco. I'd like to fill out what I know already (from the rare events when Mom and Dad's lips got loose).
posted by jabo to Society & Culture (6 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Get them here.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:19 PM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Be warned - there was a catastrophic fire in 1973 that resulted in many records being lost.

Read more here.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:24 PM on June 12, 2011

Dittoing Threeway Handshake above; you can do it online or by snail mail.

Also dittoing Pogo Fuzzybutt about that catastrophic fire (actually 1972, I believe, sorry!); they lost a signifigant chunk of the personnel records when it happened. The thing is, the fire didn't take a nice neat swath of, say, just names A-F in the Spanish-American War or all Marine records from the Civil War: the loss is somewhat scattered across all names and all of the services; there's no way to say about your parents' records until they actually do your search. If someone served in the military and/or retired after 1972, then their records will most likely be complete, as they weren't sent to the records center in St. Louis until AFTER the fire.
posted by easily confused at 3:15 AM on June 13, 2011

NARA says the fire affected Army and Air Force records so you may be in luck.
posted by zsazsa at 10:17 AM on June 13, 2011

Submit Standard Form 180.

The MPRC will reply that the records were destroyed in a fire in 1973. ignore this, and resubmit the form with any additional facts that you have recalled. I did this for my grandpa, and got half of his records with the second query and the other half with the third query. *shrug* Gotta be persistent!

Also, if you have any useful data to hand (unit numbers, names, dates with places, etc.) consider doing FOIA requests to appropriate historical agencies. And there are *tons* of communities online where you can ask around.

If you MeMail me, I would be happy to give you a hand: I find this all endlessly fascinating.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:53 AM on June 13, 2011

I would also try to track down members of the same ships, units they were with. Some veterans were more forthcoming than others and there may be anecdotes to be had even now.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:26 PM on June 13, 2011

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