World War II United States Military Records, 1941 to 1945

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United States  >  Military Records  >  World War II, 1941 to 1945

Over 16.5 million men and women served in the armed forces during World War II, of whom 291,557 died in battle, 113,842 died from other causes, and 670,846 were wounded.

Service Records

The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis maintains World War II Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF).

Please Note: On July 12, 1973, a disastrous fire at the NPRC destroyed approximately 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files. The affected record collections are described below.

NPRC, 1973 Fire:
Branch Personnel and Period Affected Estimated Loss
Army Personnel discharged November 1, 1912 to January 1, 1960 80%
Air Force Personnel discharged, September 25, 1947 to January 1, 1964
(with names alphabetically after Hubbard, James E.)

No duplicate copies of the records that were destroyed in the fire were maintained, nor was a microfilm copy ever produced. There were no indexes created prior to the fire. In addition, millions of documents had been lent to the Department of Veterans Affairs before the fire occurred. Therefore, a complete listing of the records that were lost is not available. Nevertheless, NPRC uses many alternate sources in its efforts to reconstruct basic service information to respond to requests.

To order records from the National Personnel Records Center, in St. Louis:

  • Written requests (using Standard Form 180, or letter) should be mailed to: National Personnel Records Center, 9700 Page Ave., St. Louis, MO 63132-5100

Access to Military Service Records is limited. See Services for Veterans, Next-of-Kin, or the Veteran's Representative for more information.

Please note:  The service records of all former active military service personnel who were discharged, retired, or who had died in service, prior to 1949, are now open to the public. These archival records are treasured by family members, historians, researchers, and genealogists.

The National Archives has an online database of World War II Army Enlistment Records with more than 9 million entries. The database is in the Access to Archival Databases (AAD) at Each record includes the serial number, enlistment date, birth year, and residence of the soldier.

Pension Records

The Department of Veteran Affairs has benefit claims files. Veteran files are located at the regional office closest to the residence of the veteran at the time of application. To find phone numbers and addresses look in the following source:

  • Johnson, Richard S. How to Locate Anyone Who Is or Has Been in the Military. 7th ed. Ft. Sam Houston, Tex.: Military Information Enterprises, 1996. (FHL book 973 M27j 1996.) This book discusses various methods and addresses to locate and contact present and former military members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Reserve components.

Cemetery Records

The American Battle Monument Commission has an online database of persons interred in World War II cemeteries overseas or missing in action. The database is available at

The National Archives has a World War II Honor List of Dead and Missing Army and Army Air Forces Personnel available through its Archival Research Catalog (ARC). Here, you will view a facsimile of a county-by-county alphabetical list of deceased soldiers, their serial number, rank, and type of death.

The National Archives also has a State Summary of War Casualties for World War II for Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Personnel available through its Archival Research Catalog (ARC). Each state list is alphabetical divided by the casualty type, including wounded and recovered. The list also shows next of kin address.

Sailors who were killed or wounded in the war are named in the following:

  • U.S. Navy Department. Casualty Section, Office of Public Information. Combat Connected Naval Casualties World War II by States. 2 vols. n.p., n.d. (FHL book 973 M23un.) The names are arranged by state according to the address of the next of kin at notification. The entries contain the name of the sailor, rank, name of parents or wife, and address.
  • Casualty Lists, Pacific Naval Operations, 1941–1946. Washington, D.C.: NPPSO Naval District Washington Microfilm Section, 1979. (FHL film 485330.) These lists are alphabetically arranged by operation and ship name. They contain service number, rank, service specialty number, and date of death.

Draft Records

On 16 September 1940, President Roosevelt signed into law the first peacetime Selective Service Act. During WWII, the Selective Service System conducted six draft registrations; these records are held collectively in two groupings at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, MO.

The first group contains records from the 4th Registration, known as the “Old Man’s Registration” or the “Old Man’s Draft,” for those men whose year of birth was from April 28, 1877 to February 16, 1897. The second group contains the Selective Service Records of the remainder of the WWII registrants, born from February 17, 1897 to July 31, 1927.

Please note: as there is overlap in the WWI and WWII Selective Service registration birth years (1877 to 1900), some men may have registered twice and have both WWI and WWII draft records.

How to Order a Draft Record

Copies of WWII Selective Service Records may be obtained from the National Personnel Records Center, in St. Louis, for a fee.

Written requests should be mailed to: National Personnel Records Center, 9700 Page Ave., St. Louis, MO 63132-5100.

World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942, are partially indexed at


Information in a Draft Record

For men who registered for the draft prior to 1976, the only Selective Service System information available is that of the individual Draft Registration Card (SSS Form 1) and Classification History (SSS Form 102) records.

All other individual draftee files from that period were destroyed by the Selective Service System in 1978, in accordance with approved records retention schedules. Physical examination and test results, medical letters, laboratory work and other medical documentation that may have been included in these files no longer exist.

The individual Draft Registration Card (SSS Form 1) may contain information such as: name, Selective Service registration number, age, date and place of birth, ethnicity, place of residence at time of registration and basic physical description.

The Classification History (SSS Form 102) may contain: name; date of birth; classification and date of mailing notice; date of appeal to the board; date and results of armed forces physical examination; entry into active duty or civilian work in lieu of induction (may include date, branch of service entered and mode of entry, such as enlisted or ordered); date of separation from active duty or civilian work; and general remarks.

Unit Histories

Air Force  

For information regarding offical military unit histories, contact:

U.S. Air Force Historical Research Agency
600 Chenault Circle
Maxwell AFB, AL 36112-6424

Telephone: (334) 953-2395


For information regarding offical military unit histories, contact:

U.S. Army Center of Military History
103 3rd Avenue
Fort Lesley J. McNair, DC 20319-5058

Telephone: (202) 685-4042


For information regarding offical military unit histories, contact:

U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command
Washington Navy Yard, Bldg 57 (3rd Floor)
Washington, DC 20374

Telephone: (202) 433-3224

Marine Corps

For information regarding offical military unit histories, contact:

U.S. Marine Corps History Division
3078 Upshur Avenue
Quantico, Virginia 22134

Telephone: (703) 432-4877

Coast Guard

For information regarding offical military unit histories, contact:

U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office
Commandant (CG-09224)
U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters
2100 Second Street SW
Washington, D.C. 20593

Other Sources

The bibliographies of this outline list published unit histories. For brief organizational and service histories of Army combat units see the following:

  • Maurer, Maurer, ed. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II. Department of the Air Force, USAF Historical Division, Air University, 1969. Not found at the FHL.
  • Stanton, Shelby L. Order of Battle, U.S. Army, World War II. Novato, Calif.: Presidio Press, 1984. (FHL book 973 M2st.)

Information on WWII Marines has been collected by Jerome Beau, volunteer historian. He has collected over 7600 histories on fellow Marine Raiders.

The World War II website aims to give a full spectrum of data on World War II fighting units, including details on organization, commanders, and literature.

Prisoner of War Records

The National Archives has an online searchable database entitled, "Records of World War II Prisoners of War, 12/7/1941 - 11/19/1946." This series, part of Record Group 389, has information about U.S. military officers and soldiers and U.S. and some Allied civilians who were prisoners of war and internees.

The record for each prisoner provides serial number, personal name, branch of service or civilian status, grade, date reported, race, state of residence, type of organization, parent unit number and type, place of capture (theater of war), source of report, status, detaining power, and prisoner of war or civilian internee camp site. Records of prisoners of the Japanese who died also document whether the prisoner was on a Japanese ship that sank or if he or she died during transport from the Philippine Islands to Japan. There are no records for some prisoners of war whose names appear in the lists or cables transmitted to the Office of the Provost Marshal General by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The following guide will also be helpful in locating prisoner records:

National WWII Memorial

The introduction to the memorial on the web site says, "The memory of America's World War II generation is preserved within the physical memorial and through the World War II Registry of Remembrances, an individual listing of Americans who contributed to the war effort. Any U.S. citizen who helped win the war, whether a veteran or someone on the home front, is eligible for the Registry." The memorial was dedicated 29 May 2004. Visit their website for more information at

The WWII Registry combines four databases of the names of Americans who are:

• Buried in American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) overseas military cemeteries.

• Memorialized on ABMC Tablets of the Missing.

• Listed on official War and Navy Department Killed in Service rosters now held by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

• Honored by public enrollment in the Registry of Remembrances.

Sources for Further Reading


United States Army Military History Institute:

Experiencing War: Stories from the Veteran's History Project

Dad's War: Finding and Telling Your Father's World War II Story - Use the information at this site to make sure a record of your own military service is preserved.

Stories of the Survivors of the ship USS Henry Mallory.  This ship was part of the one of the largest convoy battles of WWII.


The following Internet sites show maps of places and events of WWII:
 Maps of World War II arranges the maps by place and date.

World War II Maps part of the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection. On the list of maps, click an underlined title to see the map.


INFORMATION FROM: Family History Library US/Canada Consultants, "World War II," in LAD, Family History Library, 2004, MJM

United States World War II Fourth Draft Registration Cards (FamilySearch Historical Records)