It seems only yesterday that the world was in a bad grip of war and terror. Between 1939 and 1945, more lives, land, and property got destroyed in World War II than in any other global conflict. After the war ended, the United States tried to protect and preserve the names of World War II veterans.
In addition, many soldiers who had made it home told their stories. However, with an estimated 20 million fallen, finding records and information can be difficult. Fortunately, this guide will help you find WWII veterans’ records. Even better, you can watch WWII veterans fly again here as part of your research.
Start From Home
Approximately 240,000 World War II veterans are alive in the United States alone. Start with a detailed background search of sources in your area. Do you have relatives who survived the war? Talk to your older family members and relatives. Find out if there are any veterans still living in your area. The best way to gather as much information as possible is to find the right documents. Discharge papers, photos, newspapers, medals, and other military awards will give you a clear profile.
A war veteran who lived in your area may have recently passed away. In that case, dig a little deeper and look for clues about where the World War II veteran lived. Where did the veteran serve? What was the name of the military unit in which they served? Most importantly, look for the dates of enlistment and call-up to military service.
Family History Library
The second best place to continue your search is the Family History Library. Here you will find records from World War II. These records include brief reports, rosters, and photos of military units that served at the time, just to name a few. You can access more World War II sources through the Family History Library if you want a more detailed search. Use a “location search” by the military unit’s home state, county, or city.
Social Security Death Index
The United States Social Security Death Index catalogs World War II veterans who have died since 1962. The index provides you with valuable information about deceased veterans, including:
- Date of birth
- Number and state of Social Security issue.
- Date of death.
- Residential address to which the U.S. government remitted death benefits.
Veterans Affairs Documents
Most World War 2 veterans in the U.S. receive veterans benefits to commemorate their services, such as medical care or a home loan. This search section provides a more detailed procedure for locating World War II records. First, contact a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs office near you. For example, you can learn more about World War II records by using information from the United States Social Security Index, which includes;
- Unit Service Number.
- Date of entry into service and date of discharge.
- Unit branch of service.
As mentioned earlier, discharge papers are an important source of information when searching for World War II veterans. If you know where the veteran lives, visit the county office and ask for the veteran’s discharge papers.
Veterans associations are the next item on your search list. These World War 2 organizations have records of veterans’ applications that will expand your search options.
In the applications, you’ll find more information about the veterans’ profiles, including:
- Physical description
- Military unit
- Paid duties
If you’re unsure about your search request, don’t worry. Veterans associations can help you find people who may be World War II veterans. Search your phone or Internet directories for organizations such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Affairs, Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, or American Ex-Prisoners of War.
Personnel And Medical Records
The good thing is that military personnel and medical records contain much information about veterans. The chances of finding records on World War II veterans that don’t appear anywhere else in your search list are much greater. Personnel and medical records contain a broader veteran profile, including
- Dates of service
- Marital status
- Military rank
- Training status
Visit the National Archives catalog. There you’ll find other preserved records of World War 2 veterans. But that’s not all. You can also access the Army and Air Force casualty lists at the National Archives in such a comprehensive catalog. The casualty lists include:
- Veterans who got hurt in the line of duty.
- Veterans who recovered.
- Veterans who died.
- Address of next of kin.
While the above search options will provide information on World War II veteran deaths, cemetery records contain a more extensive catalog of wartime obituaries. For example, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has burial records of wartime veterans in cemeteries across the country. In addition, the site provides links to maps of the cemeteries and can narrow your search.
Second, the American Battle Monuments Commission has kept records of veterans buried overseas in American military cemeteries. The list also includes veterans who went missing during the war.
The last item on your search list is draft lists. These lists may contain the information you need. The United States drafted nearly ten million service members, and a typical enlistment list includes the following information:
- Contact address
- Date and place of birth.
- Physical description.
- Next of kin.
- Employer information.
Today, numerous sources of information can help you find World War II veterans. With the above resources, you’ll find the information you need on World War II veterans. While it may take you some time, you will get to learn more about history.