Help me discover my parents WWII naval records and history.
October 9, 2017 10:12 PM   Subscribe

My Mom and Dad both served in the U.S. Navy during WWII. I’m looking for information on how to research their records and history.

My Father joined in ’36 and when the war broke out, was a communications officer involved in landings in the South Pacific, Solomon Islands. Mom was a WAVE and served in San Francisco (where Dad was transferred and they eventually met).

I’m a pretty ignorant of the military (customs, organization, etc). I have a copy of Dad’s orders but they are cryptic. I also have the multi-colored bars that were on Dad’s uniform that I’d like to decode. I would like their official records, but also any insights on how to further research their history.
posted by jabo to Society & Culture (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite has an affiliated site called which is for military records. It's a subscription site, but I have a subscription, so if you want to memail me their names I can take a quick look.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:25 PM on October 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Contact The National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records Center. Their street address is 9700 Page Avenue, St. Louis Missouri 63132-5100; you can also contact them by phone (sorry I don’t have the number), or at

If your parents are deceased, then as next of kin you are entitled to any info they have, and even better it’s free.
posted by easily confused at 1:27 AM on October 10, 2017

For a list of the "bars" (what I think you're referring to), go here. Will probably take a while to go through forewarned.
posted by kuanes at 4:10 AM on October 10, 2017

The national archives in college park, MD are a pretty fun place if you like researching. If you can get a day or two to go there, and you have their unit numbers the folks in the front can tell you which room to go to, and the people working there can pull huge binders that will tell you which boxes to to request. If you bring a camera/phone camera they'll lend you a stabilizer so you can take pictures of the documents from a consistent height/angle. Some rooms charge to use the scanners, others don't. (The room I was in wanted 25 cents per page to scan, but photographing was free, AND faster!)

You can likely find out about where they were stationed, movement in and out of the group, mail arrivals, anyone who got promoted. And if you're lucky, one of your parents might show up by name in the pages.

My advice is to photograph every page and read it later.
posted by bilabial at 5:59 AM on October 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

« Older Recommendation for kick ass yet simple Halloween...   |   Who names a kitten "Roxbury," anyway? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments