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RESEARCH A VETERAN: How to Locate Someone Who Fought in World War II - Individuals Who Never Made It Home

Request the Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF). The IDPF will almost always establish his unit and give information on his burial. In many cases, it will also give valuable information about where and when he died, possibly including reports of the action in which he died. For men whose remains were never recovered or identified, extremely valuable records of the testimonies of his buddies are usually included, giving extraordinary information about the action, what happened to him, and when they last saw him. NOTE: You must send a letter before any information can be sent out to you. The letter should include your signed statement of willingness to pay the Freedom of Information Act fees for the work involved. If you are requesting your relative's IDPF, they may not charge you.

Department of the Army

U.S. Army Human Resources Command


1600 Spearhead Division Avenue, Dept. 107

Fort Knox, Kentucky 40122-5504


You can find a listing of dead and missing Army and Air Force personnel by county at The National Archives and Records Administration website.

If the deceased was buried overseas and you want information on a grave-site or possible memorial site, contact the American Battle Monuments Commission.

American Battle Monuments Commission

Courthouse Plaza II

2300 Clarendon Blvd., Suite 500

Arlington, VA 22201


Individuals Who Made It Home After the War

If the individual came home then his discharge papers will provide a lot of valuable information. If you do not have these papers you will want to contact the National Personnel Records Center To get this information you must fill out a Standard Form 180. To get a form, call the following numbers and leave your name and address. The Standard Form 180 will be mailed to you.

National Personnel Records Center

(Military Personnel Records)

1 Archives Drive

St. Louis, MO 63138


On the Web

The National Personnel Records Center might not have any information about the individual due to a fire in 1973 that destroyed many records. If this is the case, you may try contacting the Department of Veteran Affairs. They have addresses and information on veterans who applied for benefits. To find out if they have any information on your veteran, call them at 800-827-1000.

If the Department of Veteran Affairs does not have any information you can try contacting the Veteran Affairs Insurance Center at 800-669-8477.

If you do not know the individual's Social Security number and they applied for veterans benefits after April of 1973 you can send a $2 check made payable to the Department of Veteran Affairs. In a letter to them, ask for the individual's VA claim number, not his Social Security number. If the claim number is nine digits, then it is also the individual's SS number. Mail this letter to:

Department of Veteran Affairs

Records Management Processing Center

P.O. Box 5020

St. Louis, MO 63115

Finding a Military Unit

Once you find the individual's information, or if you already knew it, you can contact members of their military unit. Many can be easily found with Internet research. From there you can contact the person in charge of the group to get further detailed information. This is the best way to get in contact with the soldiers who served with this person.

Other Links That Might Help You

You can also contact:

The United States Veteran Support Information Index

P.O. Box 528

Morris, NY 13808


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