Searching for Military Personnel – Past and Present
Servicemen and women frequently move from place to place at short notice and often lose touch with friends, former comrades and sometimes even relatives. Fortunately, there are several online and offline resources that can help you to find the contact details of current and former military personnel.
If you are searching for a veteran, a good place to start is www.shipmates.com as it includes information on former servicemen and women from all branches of the military, namely the US Air Force, Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines. Anyone can search the database free of charge by following these steps:
1. Go to http://www.shipmates.com/locator/search.cfm
2. Fill in the online form
3. Click on ‘submit your search criteria’ at the bottom of the page
4. A page of research results will appear with the following information on each person:
b. Rank or Rating
c. Unit or Organization
e. Period of service
5. You may then click on the name of each person to obtain further information, including their current contact details.
If you are unsuccessful in your search for the person you wish to locate, you can enter their details by going to http://www.shipmates.com/locator/register.cfm and selecting ‘the names of people you want to find’ from the first drop-down box at the top of the page. If you then fill in and submit the online form with as much information about the person as possible, your request will be posted on the website.
If you are a military veteran yourself, you may enter your own details by going to http://www.shipmates.com/locator/register.cfm and selecting ‘your name so others can find you’ from the first drop-down box. You can then complete the online form with your own personal details.
The website also includes databases of reunions and military associations. The list of reunions can be searched by going to: http://www.shipmates.com/reunion/run_sch.cfm and details of the associations can be found at http://www.shipmates.com/assn/asn_sch.cfm
If you are organizing a reunion, you may also enter details of the reunion at http://www.shipmates.com/reunion/run_regs.cfm or, if your military association is not yet listed, you may add details at: http://www.shipmates.com/assn/asn_regs.cfm
Another good source of information on veterans of the US Air Force, as well as personnel currently serving in this branch of the military, is the Unofficial United States Air Force E-mail Locator at www.usaf-locator.com . Its database contains the current contact details of more than 30,000 current and past U.S. Air Force personnel.
Anyone can view most of this website and search the database for free without paying a membership fee. However, if you wish to view the current contact details of anyone listed in the database, you will need to become a member. Membership costs $10 per year or $20 for three years. Details of how to become a member can be found at: http://www.usaf-locator.com/membership-info.htm
In order to search this database, follow these steps:
1. Go to http://www.usaf-locator.com/search/
2. Fill in the online form with as much information as you can and click on the ‘start search’ button
3. A list of search results will then appear with some or all of the following information on each person:
a. Full name
b. Nick name
c. Maiden name
e. Status (i.e. on active duty, in reserves, discharged, or retired)
f. Years of service
g. Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC)
4. Once you have found the person you are searching for, you can click on his or her full name to see further information, including details of their assignments and their current email address, although you will need to be a member of the website in order to view this.
If you cannot find the person you are looking for, you can post a message on the website asking for the person to get in touch with you. In order to do this, go to http://www.usaf-locator.com/fpdb/lf_insert_rec.cfm and fill in the online form.
If you are an Air Force veteran or are still serving, you can post your own contact details for free by going to http://www.usaf-locator.com/add-info.cfm
The website also has a reunions section which may also be helpful in locating people who served in certain divisions. Go to http://www.usaf-locator.com/reunion.html for details of annual reunions, scheduled reunions and reunions that are still in the planning stage.
If you have been unsuccessful in your search for a US Army veteran, the US Army’s National Personnel Records Center will forward a letter on your behalf to a veteran’s last known address.
In order to take advantage of this service, following these steps:
1. Write a letter to the person you are seeking and place it in a stamped, sealed envelope which carries your name and return address.
2. Write a letter of enquiry to the National Personnel Records Center giving as much information as possible on the veteran you are searching for. In particular, try and include the following details:
o Full name
o Army serial number
o Social Security Number (SSN)
o Date of birth
3. Put both your enquiry letter and the sealed letter to the veteran into a single envelope and mail it to:
National Personnel Records Center
9700 Page Boulevard
St. Louis, Missouri 63132-5200
4. If the veteran can be found on the database, your letter will be forwarded to their last known address. If the veteran cannot be traced or if the veteran’s death has been recorded, the letter will be returned to you.
Bear in mind that, in many cases, this search will not directly lead you to the veteran’s current address. However, if you have exhausted all other possibilities, it may open up another line of enquiry, as it is possible that the current residents of the veteran’s previous address may have some information on his or her current whereabouts.
All of these resources will hopefully help you in your quest to re-connect with lost relatives and friends who have served in the military.
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