There is a valuable resource that was recently added to Ancestry.com. The U.S. Hospital Admission Card Files, 1942-1954. The information contained may help you piece together some of your family member’s puzzle. However, there is a catch……

This database describes itself in part,

The files contain records pertaining to some 5.3 million patients, mostly U.S. Army personnel wounded in battle during World War II and the Korean War. The World War II records include only Army personnel treated at Army facilities, but the Korean War records include a few records (approximately 5 percent) for non-Army personnel and non-Army treatment facilities (approximately 4 percent).

Here’s the issue……the database only contains, as it states, those who were in a hospital. The full data set at NPRC in St. Louis also contains those who were not treated in a hospital and those who died in military service.

When you use this new Ancestry database, you may still be missing part of the information you need to tell your story. Additionally, not every field seems to be indexed for every entry, so you see different fields for different people. This may be because the information wasn’t on the original Hospital Index Sheet or it just wasn’t transcribed.
No matter which direction you start research in  – online or at NPRC – check the database but be sure to follow-up with research at NPRC yourself or with a researcher. The image below is from my cousin James Privoznik who was Killed In Action. You won’t find him or this information in the database.

Do you need help telling your family member’s story and locating records? Ask me to schedule your free phone consult today and let’s get started with research.

© 2020 Research A Veteran

Are you wasting Time and Money on World War II research that may not pertain to your soldier?

I’ve spent a lot of time on social media and email answering the same/similar questions or commenting on posts to clear up misinformation. A lot of people have been posting that their family member served in a specific unit they got off a Discharge Paper without doing the research necessary to confirm there were no other units. It’s been my experience the last 10 years of research that in 95% of cases, service members were in more than one unit.

When you attempt to chase down the unit history of that discharge unit you are wasting time and money. It is vital you get the service file (OMPF) and do the appropriate branch research at NPRC or online to determine the correct units someone was in. Only then should you start pursuing unit records.

In an attempt to help researchers to stop wasting their time and money on World War II research, here are a few tips.

Do your homework and make sure your soldier/airmen/sailor/Marine was in the unit you think he was or he told you he was.

Why is this important? A lot of researchers (family members) have vague information or a few stories with which to begin research. They hear their father/grandfather/uncle (whomever) was in the 82nd Airborne or 1st Infantry Division and they go looking for all the history they can about that Division from a high level. They look for books hoping to catch a glimpse of their family member’s name. Some even go so far as to order unit records from College Park to get the big picture. Yet, they still have no real idea of when and how long their family member was actually in that unit.

Researchers need to start at the beginning – with their soldier and the “small” picture.

For example, I’ve had many clients come to me and tell me their father was in a particular unit and fought in several European Theater Campaigns. Once I conducted research into where they were, what units, and when, the story was not always what the family thought it was. Sometimes a soldier was in a Replacement Depot or Hospital part of the war and missed a lot of campaigns. You cannot assume just because his unit participated in a list of campaigns, that he was present.

How do you find out which units he was actually part of?

Start the research with the “small” picture of the soldier’s service history. You can start this on your own by reading my books, Stories from the World War II BattlefieldThese are the ONLY books on the market that teach you how to do the research, even if the records burned.

I give a step-by-step account of how to dig into the records. Volume 1 covers Army, Air Corps, and National Guard Records in 300+ pages. Volume 2 covers Navy, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Merchant Marines in 400+ pages. I hold a researcher’s hand and guide them through searching for basic information at home, provide checklists of where to look for information, and then guide them through the record retrieval process and analysis of information. Want to know how to organize your materials and write the stories? Volume 3 is coming out soon!

Another option is to request the service file from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis. If it didn’t burn and you have a unit down to the company level, you can make an appointment to visit and and search Army Morning Reports (Army, Air Corps, National Guard.) Other service branches have records online at Ancestry.com – Navy or Marine Corps Muster Rolls.

Where can you learn more about World War II research? Have you tried collaboration?

Talk to other researchers, especially professionals, or those who have been working on a particular unit for many years. Contact military museums and libraries and research institutions that hold military records.

Attend a program or lecture series or watch webinars. I speak in both the U.S. and Europe on how to research World War II service and write the stories. The webinars or NARA Genealogy Fair programs which you can view online, give high level all wars overviews of records. They do not tell you how to do the research step by step.

I am available to speak in other locations than Chicago. Please contact me through to discuss program options.

Read blogs and online articles and magazine articles, on World War II for both a view of the big picture and how others have located information. Everyone has their own way of locating information and everyone has a different starting point. All avenues and starting points provide valuable lessons in research and analysis. Many who blog about their research and findings will tell you what when ‘right’ and what went ‘wrong’ in the process. This is a form of collaboration which is so important in research.

When do you need to hire a researcher?

When you cannot or chose not do do the research yourself. Some people hire me because they have no idea what to do, or do not have the time or desire to do the research themselves. Others hire me because I can obtain records in places that require an in-person visit. World War II records are held all over the U.S., not only in St. Louis or College Park.

Professional researchers know the ins and outs of research in various repositories. Researchers know where the records are, how to get them, how to analyze them and where to go next. They are also able to research and copy record that may require an in-person visit. For example, NPRC will allow you to mail in Form 180 and request a search of the Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). They will not then go search Morning Reports and tell you where your soldier was and in which units. Usually, you will receive a letter stating his file burned if he was Army, Air Corps, National Guard.

Professionals are good at connecting the dots and thinking outside the box for research resources. One thing I am VERY good at is piecing together service histories from almost nothing. You can read testimonials here. I also have a vast network of researchers around the world I work with, some of whom are in the Research Collective, others are not listed. No one person knows everything about any topic. Collaboration is key when researching World War II service.

Professional researchers can help clear up misconceptions, questionable photographs and documents a family holds. I had one client provide me with his family story that his father was part of D-Day, and also photographs, one of which stated, ‘June 1944 Normandy, 2nd time around.’  This caption written on the back made no sense because the majority of people who were involved in D-Day kept on fighting and moving out of the area or those who were seriously wounded were shipped to England and didn’t return to France right away.

Upon further research, the only explanation I could give for that photograph was, ‘I have no idea why that caption is there and here is why.’ The explanation was his father was in England with his unit until after the invasion happened. His unit was a new one formed in April 1944 and had no amphibious training. Therefore, they were not part of D-Day. I proved this through several military documents. Also, this unti departed England after D-Day and sat in the Channel for many days because of the bad storm that ripped through there mid-June. This unit disembarked 27 June through Utah and Omaha Beaches. From there, the unit began moving out of Normandy. There was no way, based on the records, he was in Normandy twice in June 1944, as the photo suggested.

I offer fully cited, detailed reports of service with the option to write a book about your soldier. A lot of people have trouble deciphering the military language and abbreviations. Professional researchers are skilled in this and can provide a more detailed accounting of a soldier’s service. All of my reports are fully cited with all the sources from which the information came so anyone can re-create my steps. I also provide copies of all records obtained, a bibliography of other materials and research suggestions.

The other thing I do, which many researchers do not, is write and publish a book about your soldier’s life. My background is in history and genealogy. I have written countless books for clients on their family’s history and military ancestors.

The main point here is to do your homework before investing a lot of time and money in the big picture of the war. Research on your own or with a professional. Both are valuable options to consider.

Additional Resources

Contact me to set up a free phone consult to discuss a research project.

Explore all our webinars and online courses at the following sites:

WWII Education

Finding the Answers Journey

© 2020 Research A Veteran

When I lecture in the U.S. and Europe, or talk to people I don’t know online, the one question they always ask me is, ‘Why did you start researching World War II or any of the 20th century wars?’My business did not start out in military research, but genealogy. When I was finishing my history degree I took a class in 1996 which required a family history project. Once I started, I was hooked. Being Czech, as far as I had traced in 1998, I was determined to finish my degree, return to Chicago and become a great Chicago Czech researcher.

Funny how we make plans and life happens……A year after I started my business in 2010, I began working with an Italian American in Chicago. Five years later I became a Chicago Italian researcher with an expertise on the people from Ricigliano, Italy and surrounding villages. Even in 2019, I am still working with this client. His project went very quickly beyond a few generations. Each year I create several books for him documenting his entire family from past to present, with photographs, biographies, and stories. This client has written many pieces of what is becoming his memoir. I know my Italian client’s family better than my own Czech ancestors.

Robert Brouk

By the end of the the 2nd year of my business, I had published several books. One on my cousin, the Flying Tiger Robert Brouk, and several Genealogy teaching books for kids and adults. This laid the foundation for what was to come.

So how did I move from genealogy to military research? Over the course of several years of personal research into my own family’s military history, my relatives who died in service pushed me to research their stories. So I did. I researched and wrote about my WWI great grand uncle Michael Kokoska, KIA in France 1918. My Flying Tiger cousin, killed during training pilots after his AVG service ended in 1942. My cousin Frank Winkler, KIA in France in 1944. My cousin and guide for many years, James Privoznik, KIA in Belgium during the Bulge in 1945. I wrote a lecture, Finishing the Story, to help educate genealogists on some of the records I was using. That led to a book called, Stories of the Lost, where I told the stories of all those men. Along with that book, I also released the second in that series called The Tiger’s Widow, which is about the widow of Robert Brouk, Virginia Brouk, who became a WAAC then WAC in 1943 and served in Egypt.

The more I researched and looked for resources to help the process along, I realized there really were not any. Anything that did exist was so out of date, the information was basically useless. Records access changes all the time. The only book I found focused on the Army and had one chapter dedicated to records. In my mind, this lack of educational materials was unacceptable. 

I began researching service men and women across all branches of the military during WWII. With each individual, and each client who hired me, I learned more about how to research and how to write the stories. I was connected with researchers overseas who live in the Philippines and Europe, research adopted soldiers, specific units or battles, or doing Missing In Action research. These connections led to a lot of sharing of information between us and the ability to connect with other people on both sides of the ponds. I also read several “expert” websites to see what information was being shared. One expert in particular really irritates me every time I read his answers. There is a lot we can learn from those who irritate us – the question is, how do we take this and turn it into something positive to help others.

The more I read online, the more I see there is a lot of misinformation being given to people about WWII research and records access, even from genealogists doing research today. Researchers should stay on top of these issues and disseminate current information. The question was, how could I change all the misinformation being spread?

The answer came in the form of several more lectures which teach people how to research. It also led to the creation of the only books on the market today, which teach people in the U.S. and Europe, HOW to research and write the stories of American service men or women across any branch.

Luxembourg James Flag (54)My genealogy to WWII journey has taken me down many interesting roads. It led me across the sea to Europe where I’ve created a life there with my Dutch husband Johan. Actually I live two lives – one in Chicago and one in Europe from time to time. Makes for interesting stories, experiences, and life. My journey often led me down deep, dark, emotional trails to help me grow and change. Military research is not all sunshine, unicorns, and rainbows. It causes us to examine things we prefer to avoid, and feel things we may have held apart from our hearts for a long time. It sometimes brings to the surface the secrets, lies, darkness that our family has tried to hide. I have helped many clients process these results over the last decade.

 

The most important part of the journey is that my research, writing, and speaking has provided a lot of education and healing for myself, the service members I research, and their families. For this I am extremely grateful. I truly have the best job and am living my life’s purpose. I’m so grateful for the opportunity.

Where will the road or airplane lead next? I have some plans and ideas that are exciting. You’ll have to come back and keep reading to see what happens!

Why did you start researching World War II? Please share your story with us in the comments.

 

Can I help you with your research?

Are you ready to learn the bigger picture of your family member’s military service? Email us at info@wwiirwc.com to set up your free phone consultation today to discuss project options, fees, and time. You can also sign-up for our free newsletter and receive the Start Writing Your Military Story Today free!

© 2019 Jennifer Holik

Abbreviations, codes, numbers, and ……. confusion.


Is this how you feel sometimes when you are looking for World War II information?

Sometimes the most difficult part of starting World War I or World War II research is locating vital pieces of information to move a search forward. This is especially important if the Official Military Personnel File burned. Are you looking for information on a service man or woman’s service number, unit, enlistment and discharge dates? The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, MO, has a great resource for World War I and World War II researchers. The VA Index.

The VA Index

VA Index card

The VA Index is available for World War I and World War II service members. What is on the Index and why do you need it?

  • Full name of soldier, sailor, or Marine
  • Unit in which they served (not always on the card.)
  • Address
  • ENL: Date of enlistment
  • DIS: Date of discharge (often if the soldier was KIA, the death date is written on the card.)
  • SN: Service/serial number
  • A lot of letter codes with numbers. World War I cards may have more letters than World War II. There are many more codes than this, but these are the commonly seen ones on these cards.
    • C: Veterans Claim number
    • XC: Prefix X indicates veteran is deceased.
    • K: US Government Life Insurance. Issued when veterans converted their War Risk term (T) insurance into permanent policies or made direct application for this type of insurance.
    • N: National Service Life Insurance. Term insurance issued veterans during WWII.
    • V: National Service Life Insurance. This type of policy was issued when veterans converted their term insurance (N) or made the initial application permanent.
    • I: Permanent or Total Disability Claim or death payment of term insurance (WWI ONLY)
    • A: Adjusted Compensation (Bonus)
    • T: War Risk Insurance (WWI ONLY)
    • R: Rehabilitation (WWI ONLY)
    • CT: WWI Certificate (issued with bonus)
    • Z: Merchant Marine service number prefix.

Request a search

The VA Index is searchable by NPRC staff for a fee.

NPRC

1 Archives Dr.

St. Louis, MO 63138

What other resources have you used to start your World War I or World War II research? Please share in the comments.

© 2020 Research A Veteran

Contact Us For Research Help!

Contact us for information and to set up your free phone consultation today!

“The most common question I get from people is, “Why aren’t all the records and resources I need to research my military service member, free and online?”

MOST COMMONLY USED SITES

Additional Resources

  • U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center
  • Pritzker Military Museum & Library.
  • Internet Archive
  • Library of Congress
  • University Library Special Collections. Search special collections in the cities and states where your soldier lived after the war.
  • Research libraries.  Many have finding aids to help researchers locate information.
  • Genealogical and historical societies. Most towns, counties, and states have societies that hold some information.
  • Local libraries. There are many small libraries around the country that do not have the staff or money to digitize their collections. Are you communicating with this resource?
  • European and PTO researchers. Did you know there are many hobbyist researchers in Europe and the Pacific Theater who have amassed a large amount of information? 

THE MYTH & CHANGING THE DISCUSSION


Military research is a combination of online and offline research, which allows us to tell a more complete story about a soldier, sailor, or Marine’s service. The most common thought from most people we encounter at the World War II Research and Writing Center, is that all the records and resources you need are all free and online.

This is not reality.

Read my article, Why WWII Research Is Not Free to learn more.

We observe conversations on social media that insist all the records are available online and if they aren’t, you don’t need them. The same handful of websites are referred to again and again. People get stuck because the information isn’t online, they get frustrated, and often quit. Instead, why not consider working with a researcher (yes you will pay for this service) and using a variety of sources?

Why don’t we also change the discussion? What would it take for those die hard folks who insist it is all free and online to step back and see there are many ways to conduct research? And for the research community as a whole, why not recognize there are many more resources available than the ones commonly suggested?

Changing the Discussion

Did you know there are many more websites available where people can locate pieces of their soldier, sailor, or Marine’s service history?

Each website you visit, each book you pick up, each record you analyze, each story you hear or photo you view that belongs to your family, adds a piece to the entire puzzle. Each piece allows you to view that soldier’s history in historical context. Only exploring the limited information online does not allow for the fuller picture to emerge. So where can we find more information that no one is talking about? Start thinking outside the box of where to locate information.

Additional Resources

The resources presented here will hopefully start you thinking along a new path for research. Need more suggestions?  Books to help you learn how to research online and offline. Visit our book section to see all the military research books Jennifer has written. While WWII based – the strategies, records, and tips also apply to WWI, Korea and Vietnam.

We are industry leaders.

Are you ready to learn the bigger picture of your family member’s military service?

Check out our Researching WWII Online webinar. This webinar gives you the tools to research any 20th century war.

Email us at info@wwiirwc.com to set up your free phone consultation today to discuss project options, fees, and time.

You can also sign-up for our free newsletter and receive the Start Writing Your Military Story Today free!

© 2020 Jennifer Holik

 

I am often asked how to reconstruct a military service file. In this short video I talk about this. Be sure to scroll down to see the additional resources to help you accurately reconstruct military history. You might be surprised to discover reconstruction is not what a lot of people tell you it is.

Watch our video to learn more!

Additional Resources

Pick up one of our research books on Kindle or Paperback from Amazon. We have the only books on the market that teach you how to research any 20th century war. The strategies, records, and tools that we teach you for WWII research apply to WWI, Korea, and Vietnam.

Take one of our online courses available at WWII Education.

Educational Articles on Research

Videos

 

Can I help you with your research?

Check out our Researching WWII Online webinar. This webinar gives you the tools to research any 20th century war.

Are you ready to learn the bigger picture of your family member’s military service? Email us at info@wwiirwc.com to set up your free phone consultation today to discuss project options, fees, and time. You can also sign-up for our free newsletter and receive the Start Writing Your Military Story Today free!

© 2019 Jennifer Holik