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Find Airmen from Your Past with Army Air Corps Records
Posted by Grace Mitchell on January 10th 2013 under
The U.S. Air Force was called by many names before it officially became the United States Air Force, a separate branch of the U.S. military, in 1947. From 1926 to 1941, the office was known as the Army Air Corps – a branch of the army designed for air operations. However, as U.S. entrance into World War II loomed, the Army divided its forces into the Air Corps, which was primarily responsible for equipment, and the Air Force, which handled air operations. After the U.S. entered World War II at the end of 1941, the Air Force became an autonomous unit that played a key role during the conflict. The Army Air Corps ceased to exist during this time.
Finding Army Air Corps Records
The good news is that if you are in search of Army Air Corps records, you are probably researching a relatively small time frame. It is important to know, if possible, the specific name of the branch of service in which your relative served. If it was the Air Corps, you know you are looking between 1926 and 1941. If it was the Army Air Force, records are probably dates between 1942 and 1947, and U.S. Air Force records are dated after 1947. Because the Army Air Corps operated within a relatively limited time frame, and during peacetime, there are not as many records available for this branch as there are for the Army Air Force or the U.S. Air Force.
Records for the Army Air Corps are located within the U.S. Army archives. Records are currently held at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Personnel records at this office are archived 62 years after the individual separated from the U.S. military, so most of the records for the Army Air Corps will now be available to the general public. However, it is important to note that a fire at the National Personnel Records Center in 1973 destroyed many of these records. While the records center has attempted to put some of that information back into public records, some data may never be recovered.
Types of Records Available
Since the Army Air Corps was primarily in place during peacetime, records of conflicts will not be included in these archives. However, the Air Corps did play a significant role in the preparation and entrance of the U.S. into World War II, so records may indicate the service of some who were instrumental in the formation of the air forces during this time. Records will include personnel data on those who served in the Army Air Corps, including date and location of enlistment, rank and date of type of discharge. These records may also provide vital information necessary to further your search through other military or vital records that might have been kept during that time.
Finding information about relatives who served in the armed forces provides more than history of your family, it offers a glimpse of the history of the United States. The Army Air Corps was short-lived, but instrumental in the formation of the Air Force as we know it today.