Researching Military Records
We know that understanding a family member’s military service can be confusing and research regarding it daunting. In this section, we offer some information and guidance assisting with initial historical research. We encourage you to use these resources to enhance your understanding of military service, but more importantly we hope it inspires you to delve farther and learn more.
The U.S. Army Airborne and Special Operations Museum does not house military records. For those seeking such information, the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the repository for military records from WWI to the present. Contact National Military Personnel Records Center (NPRC), in St. Louis, Mo. at https://www.archives.gov/research/military/genealogy. Please read this PDF about requesting documents and the Fire of 1973, as it will help you understand the process, what is and what is not available, and the timeline for receiving something from NARA.
Another place to request documents is through the county registrar where the Soldier or Veteran lived. Service members are encouraged to file a copy of their complete record with their county registrar for safe keeping and future use, after they leave military service. Often, these documents are lost or misplaced over the years. If the documents are posted with the registrar, they should be readily available.
We also encourage you to reach out to your extended family members for information. You never know what they may have received or collected over the years, from photographs to documents, each one can help piece the puzzle together for your knowledge. Ancestry.com is a great resource to help with this, and track family members. You may also upload and request information.
If you are interested in a book to guide you, we recommend “Finding Your Father’s War: A Practical Guide to Researching and Understanding Service in the World War II US Army” by Jonathan Gawne. While this book focuses on the U.S. Army in World War II, there are references and resources listed in it that will help with research for other historical periods and branches. The book is available in the ASOM Gift Shop and online: shop.asomf.org. Please visit the Gift Shop section of our website for ordering.
We do assist with research for active U.S. Army Airborne and Special Operations units for their Lineage and Honors, and unit education.
The museum staff is not required to perform research for the public. However, if you have done the basic research and obtained documentation on your family member’s military service, and have questions or need further guidance, we can assist you on a first come, first come basis. We do not request records from NARA for you. Please understand our assistance may take time due to the volume of requests we receive and limited staffing. Walk-in research requests are not accepted. You must contact us through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.