How to find WWI veteran's rank when sources conflict?

Hello! I'm an historian with the Indiana Historical Bureau and I'm writing historical marker text for African American doctor and World War I veteran Joseph H. Ward. I'm hoping someone can direct me to his official rank at the time of his death (1956) because the sources I have conflict:

  • headstone lists Lt. Col.
  • newspaper articles later in his life, and the VA's website lists him as Col.
  • his relative's application lists his grade as Major

What would be the most definitive record with regards to his rank? He was the first African American hospital director in VA history (at Tuskegee), so I figure the answer should be somewhere. Thanks so much!

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