How to Find Deceased Military Records: A Comprehensive Guide
When a loved one who served in the military passes away, it can be important to access their military records for a variety of reasons, such as obtaining benefits, honoring their service, or conducting genealogical research. However, locating deceased military records can sometimes be a complex process. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the steps of locating these records and ensure that you have the information and resources you need.
1. Gather Essential Information
Before beginning your search for deceased military records, it’s important to gather as much essential information as possible about the individual’s military service. This information will help streamline the process and increase the chances of finding accurate and relevant records.
Begin by gathering the following details
– The deceased’s full name
– Date and place of birth
– Date and place of death
– Social Security number (if available)
– Branch of service (e.g., Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard)
– Dates of military service (start and end dates, if known)
Having this information at your fingertips allows you to approach the search process with clarity and efficiency.
2. Contact the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) at
The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) is an important resource for accessing military records. It is the central repository for records of both living and deceased military personnel. The NPRC holds records for individuals who served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard.
To request deceased military records from the NPRC, follow these steps
– Visit the NPRC website (www.archives.gov/veterans) and navigate to the Military Service Records section.
– Complete the necessary forms, such as Standard Form (SF) 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records, or use the online eVetRecs system, if available.
– Provide all the basic information you gathered in step 1.
– Indicate that you are requesting records for a deceased individual.
– Include a copy of the death certificate or obituary as proof of death.
Submitting a thorough and complete request will help expedite the process and increase the likelihood of obtaining the requested records.
3. Explore alternative resources
If you encounter challenges or delays in obtaining deceased military records from the NPRC, there are alternative resources you can explore.
– State Archives: Many states maintain archives that house military records, including those of deceased veterans. Contact your state archives to inquire about the availability of such records and the process for accessing them.
– Military service organizations: Organizations such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and Disabled American Veterans (DAV) can provide guidance and assistance in locating deceased military records. They often have access to resources and databases that can help streamline the search process.
Exploring these alternative resources can be especially beneficial when dealing with older records or if the individual’s military service was related to a specific state.
4. Use online databases and genealogy websites
The digital age has made it easier than ever to access a wealth of information, including military records. Online databases and genealogy websites can be valuable tools in your search for deceased military records.
Some popular online platforms to explore include
– Ancestry.com: Ancestry.com offers a vast collection of military records, including those of deceased veterans. Their database includes service records, draft registration cards, and other historical documents that can provide valuable insight into an individual’s military service.
– Fold3.com: Specializing in military records, Fold3.com offers a wide range of resources for locating deceased military records. Their database includes documents such as service records, casualty lists, and unit histories.
By using these online platforms, you may be able to access relevant records and uncover valuable information about your deceased loved one’s military service.
5. Consult with military units and veterans organizations
Another avenue to explore when searching for deceased military records is to contact the deceased individual’s former military units or veterans organizations directly.
– Military Unit Contacts: Contacting the deceased individual’s former unit or division can provide valuable information and resources. Unit contacts may have historical records, rosters, or other documentation that can shed light on the individual’s military service.
– Veterans Organizations: Contacting veterans organizations can provide guidance and assistance in locating deceased military records. Organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the American Legion, or the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) have extensive networks and resources that can assist you in your search.
By contacting military units and veterans organizations, you can tap into specialized knowledge and potentially gain access to records and information that may not be readily available elsewhere.
In summary, locating deceased military records requires thorough research, patience, and the use of various resources. Begin by gathering basic information about the individual’s military service, submit a request to the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), explore alternative resources such as state archives and military service organizations, utilize online databases and genealogy websites, and consult with military units and veterans organizations. By following these steps, you will increase your chances of locating and accessing your deceased loved one’s important military records.
How do I find my deceased military records?
To find the military records of a deceased individual, you can follow these steps:
1. Start with the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC)
The National Personnel Records Center, located in St. Louis, Missouri, is the primary repository for military personnel records. You can request the records by submitting a Standard Form 180 (SF-180), which is available on the NPRC website.
2. Provide necessary information
When filling out the SF-180, provide as much information as possible about the deceased individual, including their full name, date of birth, Social Security number, branch of service, and dates of service. This will help expedite the search process.
3. Submit the request
Once you have completed the SF-180 form, you can submit it to the NPRC by mail or online, depending on the options available at the time. Follow the instructions provided on the NPRC website for the most up-to-date submission process.
4. Contact the relevant military service branch
In addition to contacting the NPRC, you may also want to reach out to the specific military service branch in which the deceased individual served. They may have additional records or information that could be helpful in your search.
5. Utilize veteran service organizations
Various veteran service organizations, such as the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars, can offer assistance in locating military records. They have experience in dealing with these matters and can provide guidance on the process.
6. Explore online resources
There are several online resources available that can help you in your search for deceased military records. Websites like Ancestry.com, Fold3.com, and the National Archives’ Access to Archival Databases (AAD) can provide access to military records and historical documents.
7. Consult with a professional researcher
If you’re facing difficulties in finding the military records of a deceased individual, you may consider enlisting the help of a professional researcher who specializes in military genealogy. They have expertise in navigating record repositories and can assist you in your search.