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How to Find Someone in the US Army
What Type of US Army Records are Available?
The various military units within the US army keep detailed records, and many of the older records from various wars and conflicts have been made available through the National Archives. Here are some USAR records you might find through the National Archives:
- Enlistment and discharge records
- Service records, muster rolls, casualty records and prisoner of war records
- Records related to specific USAR military units
- Officer records for the US army, volunteer records and court martial records
Other Military Records Available at the National Archives
The National Archives is a treasure trove of US army records, but also for other military branches and historic military units no longer active, including:
- USAF, USAR, USCG, USMC, USMCR and USN
- Historic military units like the USAFFE, USAFPAC, USASA and USASTC
- Miscellaneous USAREC records, which date back to 1775, are also available
Although the majority of the National Archives military records for the US army and other branches must be researched in person or requested by mail, there is free access to a searchable online database through the National Archives website that allows you to search for records using the following methods:
- Search by conflict, including Korean War, Vietnam War, Civil War and World War II
- Search by time span, beginning in 1800
- Search by genealogy topics, including casualties, civilians, military personnel and prisoners of war
- Search by place
- Browse the long list of subjects to choose military records category, included air warfare, naval officers, and recruiting and enlistment
Why Military Records are Important in a Genealogy Search
Finding a relative who was in the US army or other branch of the military can be exciting and eye opening. Reading an ancestor’s military records gives you a different view of that person, a separate identity from just learning his birth place, residence, and marriage records. Learning how your ancestor participated in a conflict, what was accomplished and where he served is important to a well painted family tree.
Simply adding someone’s name and dates of birth and death to the family tree might help fill in the blanks, but delving deeper into who that person was, what they did during life, is how you fill out that family tree with more than just bare facts.