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Military Records

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There are few events in U. S. history that spark the imagination to “what happened” than the disappearance of Flight 19 on December 5, 1945. In brief, for those unfamiliar with the story, Flight 19 was a training flight of five Grumman TBM Avenger Torpedo Bombers that took off from Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale, FL on the afternoon of December 5, 1945.  The training flight was to take them east and fly near the Bahama Islands and then return to Fort Lauderdale. The purpose of the training was to teach dead reckoning skills and using speed, heading, and elapsed time to navigate. The first part of the flight in getting to the Bahamas was successful. It was on the return when things took a different turn. One of the compelling aspects of this story compared to others of ships or aircraft lost in the Bermuda Triangle is that the air stations along eastern Florida were either listening to or in communication with the flight commander Lieutenant Charles Carroll Taylor as the flight was getting lost.  Starting around 3 PM, transmissions from the lost planes began to be received. For the next three hours, naval air stations listened to the growing confusion and frustration of the commanding pilot as he tried to figure out how to either get back or land somewhere safe. Then the radio transmissions ended about 6:30 PM that evening with LT Talyor saying that they might have to ditch at sea unless they found land and that when the first plane goes below 10 gallons of fuel, then all will ditch together.

 

Sadly, this was only the first part of this tragedy.  The Navy sent out units to search for the lost planes as early as 6 PM that evening.  Among the search and rescue units were two PBM-5 Martin Mariners, large seaplanes, from Naval Air Station Banana River, FL that took off at 7:27 PM.  One the PBM-5’s made a routine call at 7:30 PM and then was never heard from again. There is some evidence that the Mariner may have exploded in mid-air because there were reports from vessels at sea near the Mariner’s patrol area saying they saw a “fireball” approximately around the time another ship lost RADAR contact with the plane.

 

The U. S. Navy was baffled by the loss of both the Avengers and the Mariner, and so they investigated.

 

Among the newly added series of digitized records to the National Archives Catalog is National Archives Publication M1657: Folder A17: Fort Lauderdale-5 TBM Crash-December 5, 1945 THRU PBM-1946, a single reel of microfilm that is part of the series Subject Files, 1945-1958 in the Records of Naval Districts and Shore Establishments (Record Group 181) that are in the custody of the National Archives at Fort Worth, TX. The microfilmed series is a collection of materials that was eventually used in the Navy’s Board of Investigation including weather observations, the history of the aircraft and engine logs, a rough crash log, radio station logs, preflight forms, communication logs, incident reports, air/sea rescue plans, maps of the search area.

 

In addition to these records, there are related records in other series that have not been digitized in the custody of the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference. In the World War II Command Files that are part of the Records of the Chief of Naval Operations (Record Group 38), there is a file unit titled Shore Establishments, Jacksonville Naval Air Station Board of Investigation 5 TBM Avengers 7 December 1945 that includes a copy of the findings of the Board of Investigation (Box 419). There is another copy of the Board of Investigation in file units Type of Command, Training, Naval Air Advanced Training Command, Jacksonville, FL Board of Investigation into Missing TBMs and PBM Airplanes December 7, 1945 Part I and Part II (Box 373). 

 

In the Casualty Assistance Branch Ships, Stations, Units, And Incidents Casualty Information Records in the Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel (Record Group 24), there are casualty reports filed under NAS Fort Lauderdale (Box 109) and under NAS Banana River (Box 108). These files include correspondence from the Casualty Assistance Branch regarding the circumstances of the losses and any legal changes to their status.  Part of the file addresses the aircrews’ status as missing versus being declared dead.

 

On the other side of the story, not only were trained personnel lost, but so were several planes. The accident reports for the aircraft can be located in the series titled General Correspondence, 1943-45 in the Records of the Bureau of Aeronautics (Record Group 72). The five Avengers are filed under “VTBM1/L11-1 1945” in Box 5181 and the Mariner is filed under “VPBM5/L11-1 1945” in Box 4766. These accident reports include a form report describing the circumstances of the loss of the aircraft, who was aboard at the time, additional information related to the search efforts, and the general decision on who or what was to blame for the loss. In this particular case, a decision was made, based on the evidence on hand, but deferred the final decision to the Board of Investigation to be held later.

 

In addition to the records at the National Archives in College Park, there may be other relevant records relating to Flight 19 that were created by local naval air stations and the regional naval district. The records of the 7th Naval District (Florida) and the naval air stations that were involved in the incident are in the custody of the National Archives at Atlanta. An example of these records are the Central Subject Files, 1942-1945 of the 7th Naval District. Because these are administrative files, they are arranged using the Navy Filing Manual 4th Edition, 1941.  A short of list of select filing designations are A17-9 (Naval Courts and Boards), A17-24 (Court of Inquiry), A17-25 (Board of Investigations), L11-1 (Material Loss), the different aircraft types, VTBM1 and VPBM5, and the different naval air stations NA29 - Jacksonville NAS, NA59 - Cocoa and Banana River NAS, and NA106 - Fort Lauderdale NAS.

 

Besides these records that directly relate the topic of Flight 19, there may be other series in  record groups that are overlooked because they are not as well known and somewhat difficult to use. An example of this are the records in Record Group 313: Records of Naval Operating Forces.  Located at the National Archives in College Park and in the regional branches like the National Archives in Atlanta, this record group is divided into naval commands, and there may be several entries per command that cover World War II through the late 1950’s.  These records are difficult to use because most, not all, have not been processed and described, and therefore do not have easy to use finding aids. As an example of this method, using the information from the Board of Investigation, it references the Gulf Sea Frontier and Commander, Training Command, Atlantic Fleet as being contributors of reports in the investigation and recipients of copies of the investigation.  The training flight and the aircraft were organized under Naval Air Training Command, Atlantic Fleet, which is a subordinate command to Commander, Training Command, Atlantic Fleet, and the search and rescue effort were conducted by units from the Gulf Sea Frontier. So any records from these commands could potentially have relevant records.

 

Located at the National Archives in College Park, there are two series of correspondence both the Commander, Gulf Sea Frontier and the Commander, Training Command, Atlantic Fleet. The majority of the series in RG 313 still are unprocessed and undescribed. In many cases, the agency paperwork that came with the records are used as ad hoc finding aids.  This is in part why these series in RG 313 are often overlooked.

 

For the Gulf Sea Frontier, there are the Unclassified Correspondence, 1940-1946 and Formerly Security Classified Correspondence, 1940-1946, which are arranged using the Navy Filing Manual, so the suggested filing designations are a good place to start. As it is these series have been processed with container lists, so they are more accessible.

 

For Training Command, Atlantic Fleet are the Confidential, Restricted and Secret General Administrative Files, 1944-1945 and the Confidential and Unclassified General Administrative Files, 1941-46.  Both series are arranged by the Navy Filing Manual. These two series have not been processed or described, so the record dossiers would be the finding aids.

 

The loss of the planes in Flight 19 and the search plane PBM5 in 1945 with all the new innovations of RADAR, IFF (Identify Friend or Foe) Transponders, and the myriad of equipment that was available to pilots and crew to help them survive a crash, stay afloat and help searchers find them goes to show how big the ocean still is.  Six, relatively small, planes proved to be impossible to locate in churning waters of the Atlantic and in among the miles of shore lines of Florida, Grand Bahamas, and elsewhere. The loss of the planes and crew of Flight 19 remains a mystery to this day.

 

Vessel & Station Log Books

 

The National Archives and Records Administration preserves the log books of the vessels and stations of several Federal agencies (see list), capturing different levels of information and time spans.

 


Researching Log Books
Original log books in NARA holdings are almost always open for research. To view them in person, please consult our website and choose the NARA location you wish to visit. Reference archivists can also perform reviews of log books you are interested in ahead of your visit to verify specific events or dates of interest. Please email the location’s reference team ahead of time, or use the Contact Us online form, to request this service. To order copies of records online, visit our website.

U.S. Navy Logbooks


Navy logbooks are our most popular and well-known logbooks. Logbooks, also referred to as Captain's Logs or Deck Logs, consist of chronological entries documenting the daily activities of a Navy ship or unit. Individual logbooks are arranged chronologically by date, with entries in each day's log arranged chronologically by the time of day. The level of information contained in these volumes ranges from simple entries documenting daily routines to detailed meteorological and operational accounts. Information also can include:

  • Documentation of disciplinary hearings
  • Sick lists
  • Occasional injuries
  • Use of daily rations, etc.

Information available differs widely based on when the logbook was created.Logbooks/Deck Logs are not detailed journals describing a ship's mission and all events transpiring in and around the ship, although they do sometimes provide information about a ship's operations. The entries can be repetitive and dry. They list officers until 1957 but do not list all the personnel on board. Look for those listings in the ship’s Muster Rolls or Personnel Diaries. Please keep in mind that references to individuals in a Deck Log are incidental and most service members are not referenced in a Deck Log. But a Deck Log can provide background information relating to the service of an individual service member such as identifying the service member’s location by identifying the ship’s location.

Some of the Navy deck logs in NARA custody have been digitized and are available online through the National Archives Catalog. Please check the listing to see if a ship in which you are interested is available. 

During wartime or by Presidential order, logs of U.S. Revenue Cutters and U.S. Coast Guard vessels & facilities will be filed along with the Navy Logbooks.*


Logs of Armed Guard Vessels


During WWII, the Naval Transportation Service Division (established on January 26, 1942) determined the current and prospective shipping requirements for the Navy exclusive of those of the operating forces of the fleets and made long-range plans for the allocation of merchant type ships by the War Shipping Administration to the navy. It procured merchant-type vessels over 1,000 tons gross by charter or purchase from the U.S. Maritime Commission on the War Shipping Administration, for use by the Navy as auxiliaries.
The logs are part of the Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, 1798 - 2007 (Record Group 24) and the files are part of the Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, 1875 - 2006 (Record Group 38). Both are located at the National Archives in College Park, MD:

  • Armed Guard Logs, 1943 - 1945 -- These logs were prepared under the direction of the Armed Guard commander aboard each ship, and comprise a brief daily account of events of the armed guard crew including mustering, disciplinary actions, and security matters.
  • Armed Guard Files, 1934 - 1946 -- The files often include more information about the activities of the Merchant vessel and Armed Guard crew that contained in the logs.


On October 1, 1949, the Naval Transportation Service Division was absorbed into the Military Seas Transportation Service (MSTS) (see below)..

Logs of U.S. Army Vessels

 

At various times in the U.S. Army's history, the Quartermaster General directed the operations of Army-owned and -contracted vessels for the movement and supplying of soldiers. The Continental Army utilized vessels during the Revolutionary War as early as 1775, and the U.S. Army directed vessels for logistical support during operations on the frontier as early as 1792. However, NARA has received few logs of these U.S. Army vessels. NARA’s holdings of U.S. Army vessel logs mostly reflect the movement of supplies and personnel during the time of the the Mexican War (1846-1848), the American Civil War (1861-1864), the Spanish-American War (1898), the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902), and World War I (1917-1919). Information provided in these series varies widely, but often includes name and location, date, name of commander, meteorological data, operations conducted and fuel/coal expended. A few Engineer Logs for and Port Logs about transports are also available.

According to NARA records, in 1951 the Department of the Army destroyed all manifests, logs of vessels, and troop movement files of United States Army Transports for World War II and most of the passenger lists. 

All series of logbooks and related records listed below are part of the Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General (Record Group 92): Located at the National Archives in Washington, DC


Located at the National Archives in Seattle, WA


Located at the National Archives in College Park, MD

Deck Logs of the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) and the Military Sealift Command (MSC), 1946-81


The Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) was established in 1949 to consolidate shipment of military supplies from the four separate services used during World War II into a unified command. Many of the ships that formed MSTS in the early years were reassigned from the Army Transportation Service (ATS) [See U.S. Army Vessels].  During the Vietnam War, MSTS became the Military Sealift Command (MSC). These logs, which evolved over time and have varying degrees of consistently recorded information, date from as early as 1946 and reach to 1981.

  • Information captured in these logbooks includes:
  • Ship name
  • Date
  • location or port of departure and planned destination
  • ship's course
  • total distance traveled
  • meteorological information
  • brief entries giving a running account of the principal activities aboard the ship.

 

Entries typically mention the ship departing or entering a port, mustering the crew, drills and inspections, passing navigational buoys, setting lookouts, bringing a harbor pilot aboard, and sea conditions. If a crewman took ill or was injured and sent to sick bay, this also may be noted.

 

All series of logbooks listed below are part of the Records of the Naval Operating Forces (Record Group 313) and located at the National Archives in College Park, MD:



U.S. Revenue Cutter Service and U.S. Coast Guard Logs


The U.S. Revenue Cutter Service and U.S. Coast Guard both created logbooks housed at the National Archives. The types of logs created include logbooks of depots, bases, lifesaving stations, and air stations; Coast Guard vessels, merchant vessels, and revenue cutters; lighthouses, light stations, tenders, and light vessels; and Port Security units.
The U.S. Revenue Cutter Service (USRCS) is the nation's oldest continuous armed maritime service and merged with the U.S. Life-Saving Service (USLSS) in 1915 to form today's U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). The U.S. Lighthouse Service became part of the U.S. Coast Guard in 1939.  Most of the logs in NARA custody date from 1822 to the 1980s, but the earliest log book is that of the USRC Massachusetts for 1791-1795.
These logs vary greatly in the amount of detail they contain, depending on when they were created, who created them, and their intended purpose. They mostly contain chronological entries documenting the daily activities of a Revenue Cutter or Coast Guard vessels or units fulfilling the multiple missions of this military service, including:

  • enforcing the collection of revenue customs
  • smuggling and slave trade interdiction
  • search and rescue operations
  • environmental and shipping law enforcement


The logs can also include:

  • summaries of disciplinary hearings
  • sick lists
  • occasional reports of injuries
  • use of daily rations
  • ship inventories


All series of logbooks listed below are part of the Records of the United States Coast Guard (Record Group 26) and located at the National Archives in Washington, DC:


Other type of log books available:

For U.S. Coast Guard logs from 1972 to the 1980s  see our Regional Archives depending on the vessel's home port and location of station.  Logs beyond the time span of NARA holdings remain in the legal custody of the U.S. Coast Guard.

 

*During wartime or by Presidential order, logs of U.S. Revenue Cutters and U.S. Coast Guard vessels & facilities will be filed along with the Navy Logbooks.



Logbooks of U.S. Merchant Marine Vessels


The Merchant Marines created two types of logbooks:

  • Official Logbooks
  • Merchant Logbooks.


Official Logbooks were required for all foreign voyages mandated by legislation enacted in 1872, and were occasionally filed for coastal voyages when a birth or death occurred during the voyage. All of these logbooks are part of the Records of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation (Record Group 41):


Most Official Logbooks from 1939 to the 1980s are part of the Records of the U.S. Coast Guard (RG 26) (see above) and are located in the regions based on port in which log was turned in.
Merchant logbooks were maintained by various U.S. flag merchant vessels operating around the world. Included are logs for:

  • Chief officers'
  • Engineers'
  • Deck departments'
  • Engine room logs


Logbook entries also  include:

  • hourly reports on operating systems
  • personnel on duty
  • any problems or unusual situations
  • weather conditions


All of these records are part of the Records of the U.S. Maritime Commission, 1917 - 1950(Record Group 178) and located at the National Archives in College Park, MD:


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (USCGS)


NOAA and the USCGS conduct hydrographic and oceanographic surveys and studies. The logbooks, with some variance, include daily entries of the ship's position, weather conditions, remarks on the status of each department of the ship, notations of any mechanical problems or unusual weather conditions, and descriptions of the day's hydrographic and oceanographic surveying activities.
There are two USCGS series that contain logbooks and are part of the Records of US Coast and Geodetic Survey (Record Group 23):

These two series are located at the National Archives in College Park, MD.


The NOAA logbooks are part of the Records of US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Record Group 370):

This series is located at the National Archives in College Park, MD.

 

This series is located at the National Archives in Seattle.

To continue to highlight new digital series available on the National Archives Catalog, World War II War Diaries, Other Operational Records and Histories, 1942-1946 is another series that has come from NARA’s digital partners. This series includes some war diaries, some action reports, some submarine patrol reports and some battle histories of various naval, Marine, and other Allied commands during World War II. These records were scanned from a microfilm series that the Navy created from select war diaries and other reports.

 

This series is the first step in researching a Naval and some Marine operations during World War II, but remember this is not a comprehensive series of war diaries and so its title is a little misleading.  If you cannot find a war diary or an operational report for the Naval command you are interested in the digitized war diary series, then please be aware that there are larger textual series of War Diaries, Action and Other Operational Reports, World War II Command Files in the Records of the Chief of Naval Operations (Record Group 38) and the U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II (a. k. a. Geographic Files) in the Records of the US Marine Corps (Record Group 127) where you might find what you are looking for. 

 

One of the interesting tricks to the textual series of war diaries is that there are some command war diaries that have been stamped saying that a certain portion of the war diary has been microfilmed. Those microfilmed portions can be found in this series.  As a follow-up to this statement, please do not assume that in all cases where one series ends the other begins. There are several cases where there is duplication and in others there are exclusively solitary copies of reports - meaning they exist solely in one series and not in the other. 

 

The duplication of reports in multiple series or the isolation of unique reports in individual series can be said for action and other operational reports.  Again If you cannot find a particular action report or Marine operational report, then you might try to look at the associated textual record series.


If you need to check for the availability of a war diary, action report, or another type of operational report, then please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email archives2reference@nara.gov, and RDT2 can check their holdings.  If you are interested in getting a copy, then please provide your mailing address and phone number in your request in case RDT2 needs to draft a reproduction order form for you.

In the last few years, the National Archives has been partnering with online services like Ancestry.com and Fold3.com to digitize microfilm and microfiche series of records. The intent was that after a span of time on these sites, these materials eventually will be made available on our Catalog. One of these series is the World War II Submarine War Patrol Reports, NARA Publication M1752, NAID 305243, and Entry A1 307 in Record Group 38: Records of the Chief of Naval Operations.

 

This series is arranged by the name of the submarine and then by war patrol number, but through the Catalog, you can “Search Within This Series” and search for any specific submarine.

 

Please remember, this series only includes reports of assigned war patrols and war patrols that were completed. The majority of the war patrol reports are from submarines assigned to Commander, Submarine Forces, Pacific; Commander, Submarine Forces, Southwest Pacific; and Commander, Submarine Forces, 7th Fleet. If you are looking for periods of training, extra duties outside of a patrol, or when a submarine was lost, then you will need to look in other records in Record Group 38: Records of the Chief of Naval Operations or in Record Group 313: Records of Naval Operating Forces.

 

At the beginning of World War II, Chief of Naval Operations and Commander-in-Chief, US Fleet decided that submarines operating in the Pacific were not to maintain war diaries like other vessels, but to file report on their assigned war patrols as an equivalent record of activity.

 

The war patrol reports consist of several sections including a brief summary of events between patrols, which covers training and overhauls, a chronology of patrol, a record of sightings (ships and aircraft), data on torpedo firing, and evaluations of different departments and sections aboard the boat on how equipment and crew performed during the patrol.

 

These records and this digital collection is helpful to begin any research on World War II Submarine Operations in the Pacific. During the war, submarines were asked to do more than sinking ships.  They were asked to drop off or pick up troops like in the Makin Island Raid and the invasion of Adak, rescue downed pilots in lifeguarding missions, photo-reconnaissance missions, evacuating people and material, and to lay mines.  Sometimes there were additional reports that were filed, but not included in the war patrol reports.  These additional reports can sometimes be found in the World War II Action and Operational Reports, Entry A1 351 in Record Group 38: Records of the Chief of Naval Operations, NAID 305236.  The action reports can also include reports on the loss of a submarine, collecting all the available information on when they were last hear from or seen.

 

There are other series within Record Group 313: Records of Naval Operating Forces under Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, Commander, Submarine Forces, Pacific and Commander, Submarine Forces, Southwest Pacific. There are several entries for these commands within this record group.  These series are the administrative files of these commands and are arranged by or use the Navy Filing Manual (4th Edition, 1941). You can use these files to further develop the background to a mission or what information was gained from a mission.

The National Archives entered into an agreement on August 9, 2019 with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to digitize U.S. Navy and Coast Guard deck logs from vessels with Vietnam-era service.

 

“Our goal is to support the processing of claims by the VA and enable sailors to relive their tours online through the actual deck logs, to pinpoint where they served," said Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero. “As a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam on the hospital ship USS Sanctuary, I look forward to seeing my ship's deck logs and revisiting this important history."

 

U.S. Naval and Coast Guard deck logs, in the custody of the National Archives, contain critical information required to validate the claims for those who served in Vietnam and establish service-connection for disability benefits. Deck logs are part of the National Archives’ archival holdings and therefore are not normally permitted to leave their storage locations.

 

A deck log is a daily report of ship activity, typically completed by junior officers and signed by the ship’s commanding officer. The deck log contains information regarding movements (heading and speed), and the ship’s location, and in some cases have information on combat operations, accidents, injuries, and other personnel events. This partnership includes the digitization of deck logs from 1956-78.

 

Beginning on August 22, 2019, the VA will begin scanning more than 20 million images from the U.S. Naval and Coast Guard deck logs. While the scanning project is underway this group of records will be closed to researchers at National Archives facilities, but access will be restored as soon as possible after the paper records are returned. The National Archives will also begin the process of making the digitized records available on archives.gov, after images are transferred to NARA by the VA, and the images are screened for privacy concerns. Tentatively, the scanning/digitization/posting part of the project is scheduled to be completed sometime in Spring 2020.

 

This project will support the processing of veterans’ claims, including those related to the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, and eventually facilitate increased access to these records by researchers in a digital format without having to travel to a National Archives facility. Through this partnership, National Archives will improve access to and discovery of these historically significant records.

A group of University of Virginia graduate students created a project using data from U.S. Navy deck logs—held at the National Archives at College Park and available via the online catalog—to pinpoint locations of various ships during the Southeast Asia conflict. The deck logs formed a chronological account of notable events occurring in and around a ship, reminded the officers of the deck of their duties, and checked on the activities of the officers. They also served as evidence in legal proceedings in naval, admiralty, or civil courts when necessary.

More important, the deck logs contained the coordinates of where the ships traveled during their time in service, information that can help prove a veteran’s exact location during the war.

The students used the information collected from the log books to create a database showing which ships were in the Agent Orange exposure zone, which was defined by legislation as within 12 nautical miles of a boundary off the coast of Vietnam. 

https://www.archives.gov/news/articles/students-create-tool-to-help-navy-vietnam-vets

Selective Service System Classification & Registration Records for 1940 – 1975

 

General Information and Descriptions

 


 

All Selective Service System Classification and Registration Records: 1940 – 1975 have been consolidated from state holdings to the National Archives.  These dates cover men born 4/28/1877 – 3/29/1957. Men born between 3/29/1957 – 12/31/1959 were exempt from registering.  It is important to note that not all men who registered for the draft served in the military.

 

Registration Cards (SSS Form 101) were created to account for all men required to register for the draft.  Information found in these cards generally includes name, address, employer/educational institution, date and location of birth, and a person to contact for address updates.  For cards of men with dates of birth after 1922, additional information may include military service or the registrant’s alien registration number.

 

Classification Ledgers (SSS Form 102) chronicle the status of each man’s eligibility, exemptions, tests, entry, and final disposition from service.  The codes for these classification ledgers can be found on the Selective Service System’s website.  Supplementary information provided by registrants (medical records, school enrollment forms, or other documents supporting reasons for classifications) was not considered permanent record material and as such was not retained by the Selective Service Commission.  For example, the National Archives cannot provide documentation or a reason for why someone was classified as “4F”. 

 

Date of Birth Ranges of Draft Cards in NARA holdings:

 

WWII

  • 4/28/1877 – 2/16/1897 (Known as 4th Registration or Old Man’s Draft)
  • 2/17/1897 – 3/31/1929 (1st – 6th Registrations, except 4th)

Post War

  • 8/30/1922 – 1940
  • 1941 – 3/28/1957

 

Washington D.C. is considered a state in this series.  NARA has Draft Registration Cards for men born between 4/28/1877 – 3/28/1957.

 

In addition to holding the draft cards for states, NARA also has draft cards for the following territories:

Guam                   8/30/1922 – 3/28/1957

Canal Zone          4/28/1877 – 3/28/1957

Puerto Rico          4/28/1877 – 3/28/1957

Virgin Islands       2/17/1897 – 3/28/1957

 

The 4th Registration draft (Old Man’s Draft) cards were scheduled for destruction prior to the 1973 Fire.  The following states had already destroyed their collection of this date range before the National Archives took custody of the records:



North Carolina               Mississippi                    Maine

Alabama                         Florida

Georgia                          South Carolina

Tennessee                       New Mexico



How to access these records

 


 

To access draft registration cards or classification ledgers for 1940 – 1975, please fill out the ‘Selective Service System Records Request’ form and send it to:

 

National Archives & Records Administration

National Archives - St. Louis

ATTN: RL-SL

P.O. Box 38757

St. Louis, MO 63138-0757

 

For information on WWI draft cards, please visit our website, ‘World War I Draft Registration Cards’ where you will find a history on this series as well as how to access them.

 

You may find more information on this topic on the webpage ‘Selective Service Records’.

 

Draft Cards Online

 


 

As of February2020 the WWII Draft Registration Cards from all states and territories have been scanned and uploaded to Fold3, but can be searched through Ancestry.com as well.  National Archives locations have public use computers where researchers may access both Fold3 and Ancestry for free. 

Although there may be yearbooks and crew photos intermingled with textual records of the units, ships or crews, they are not considered permanent records unless the photographs were taken by the Army Signal Corps or other official military photographers usually for publicity. These photographs were considered permanent records are part of the photograph collections listed in the blog postings highlighted below.

 

Sometimes, the officers of a unit or crew will pay for a photographer to come to their base to take pictures, These photographs sometimes are filed in the records of the unit or crew but oftentimes they are just distributed to the individual members with no permanent copy kept.

 

NARA's Special Media Branch blog, "The Unwritten Record," posted a 4-Part series that explains about researching for military unit or crew photographs during WWII using records at the National Archives in College Park - Still Pictures (RDSP). Please contact RDSP via email at stillpix@nara.gov if you have any questions about these records:

 

Come out and join us for a U.S. Coast Guard Logbook Scan-a-Thon on Wednesday, April 25, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Innovation Hub at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

 

This event is part of the Innovation Hub’s effort to digitize pages from logbooks of United States Coast Guard vessels that served in the Vietnam War. Learn more about the Coast Guard in Vietnam project.

 

During the scan-a-thon, you will help to scan pages from these records so they can be made available online. We’re hoping to scan 2,000 pages in one day!

 

At noon, archives specialist Adebo Adetona will give a talk about the Coast Guard’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

 

All you need for this event is a research card, which you can get at the National Archives Building. You don’t need to have any prior experience scanning records—we’re happy to show you how it works.


Email innovationhub@nara.gov to reserve a scanner and time slot.

The Still Picture Branch of the National Archives is excited to share more than 6,000 recently digitized photographs of U.S. Marine Corps activities in World War II and Korea.

 

A large portion of this incredible series covers USMC presence in Korea, with additional images dating back to the advent of photography and covering a wide variety of USMC activities. Within this series, you will find images of USMC aircraft, the Marine Corps Band, artillery, atomic bomb testing in Nevada in 1952, communication equipment, commandants, the Cunningham Collection (early aviation photographs), insignia, medical evacuation (medevac), Marines on liberty, Medal of Honor recipients, enlistment posters, the surrender of Japan, and Japanese and Allied prisoners of war (POWs).

 

28-1034a.gif43-0039a.gif74243629.jpg

 

The World War II subjects include the Battles of Bataan, Bougainville, Cape Gloucester, Central Solomons, Corregidor, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Japan, Marshall Islands, Midway, New Britain, Okinawa, Philippines, Saipan, Tarawa, Tinian, and Wake Islands. There are also photographs of Navajo Indians and wounded soldiers. The Korea section consists of photographs of various USMC campaigns in Korea, as well as views of aircraft, artillery, bunkers, cemeteries, close air supply and support, communications, engineering activities, captured weapons and equipment, and much more.

 

Learn more about these records in the National Archives Catalog newsletter.

 

Image sources:

 

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Overview: 1969 to August 1974

 

Under the Nixon administration, the Vietnam War officially came to a close.  Though Nixon had secretly begun talks with the North Vietnamese during Johnson’s presidency, in 1969 the scope of U.S. involvement expanded with bombing campaigns in Cambodia and incursions in Laos.  At the same time, the administration worked to build up the South Vietnamese armed forces in order to allow for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops.  During Nixon’s second term, the Vietnam War was officially ended with the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1973.

 

Domestically, student anti-war demonstrations intensified.  The most infamous took place at Kent State; National Guard troops shot into a crowd of students and protesters, killing four. In 1971, the New York Times and Washington Post began publishing excerpts from the Pentagon Papers, a study on U.S. involvement in Vietnam compiled by the Department of Defense.  Nixon administration attempts to quiet the scandal created by the publication of the papers became part of the wider Watergate investigation, leading to Nixon’s downfall and resignation in 1974.

 

President Richard Nixon with U.S. Army 1st Infantry

Division Troops during Visit to Dian, South Vietnam, 7/30/1969

 

Catalog Resources:

Presidential Daily Diary, 1/21/1969 - 8/9/1974- The Daily Diary chronicles the activities of the President, from the time he left the private residence until he retired for the day, including personal and private meetings, events, social and speaking engagements, trips, telephone calls, meals, routine tasks, and recreational pursuits.

 

Vietnam- Correspondence from Richard Nixon to Nguyen Van Thieu- Letters between Nixon and the president of South Vietnam in 1972.

                                                                                                           

WHSF: Contested, 48-1- Analysis of public reaction to the publication of the Pentagon Papers.

 

February 10, 1973 - Nixon, Vice President Agnew- Discussion of the situation in Southeast Asia after the signing of the Paris Peace Accords.

 

February 15, 1973 - Nixon, Defense Secretary Elliot Richardson and February 15, 1973 -Nixon, H.R. Haldeman- Meeting minutes from discussions of the reception of returning American POWs, and American attitudes toward the military and the “Nixon Doctrine.”

 

This blog is just a sample of the information available in the National Archives catalog. For more tips on searching for digitized records in the catalog, check out this post on Expanding Your Digital Toolkit.

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President Lyndon B. Johnson signs "Gulf of Tonkin" resolution, 8/10/1964

 

Overview: November 1963 to 1968

When John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Lyndon Johnson inherited an increasingly deteriorating military and political situation in Vietnam.  Though Kennedy had reportedly begun to cool on the conflict, Johnson made the choice to escalate; 1965 saw the first deployment of American ground troopshttps://catalog.archives.gov/id/74258721as well as the beginning of Operation Rolling Thunder, a three year aerial bombardment campaign.

 

The Gulf of Tonkin Incidenthttps://catalog.archives.gov/id/2803383in the summer of 1964  gave the Johnson administration justification for further escalation and troop deployments.  Anti-war protests in the U.S. escalated in turn.



Catalog Resources:

National Security Council Meetings Files, 11/22/1963 - 1/20/1969- Notes from official NSC meetings during the Johnson administration, many of which dealt with Vietnam.

 

President's Daily Diary, 11/22/1963 - 1/20/1969- Activity logs prepared by secretaries outside the Oval Office. Sample of entries, starting with LBJ's first days in office after assassination. A major topic is Gulf of Tonkin attacks.

 

Johnson White House Photographs, 11/22/1963 - 1/20/1969-238 photos relating to Johnson’s visit to Vietnam, Johnson with troops in Vietnam and in the U.S., the Honolulu Conference, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, President Nguyen Van Thieu, Johnson administration advisers, and anti-war demonstrations.

 

Letter from John Steinbeck to President Lyndon Johnson, 5/28/1966- This letter was sent after trip by Steinbeck and his son to Washington, D.C., where the two were received by Johnson. Steinbeck praises Johnson, talking derisively about anti-war protesters in previous American wars

 

Letter to President Lyndon B. Johnson from Jackie Robinson, 4/18/1967- Robinson discusses the Civil Rights movement and Martin Luther King Jr.'s opposition to Vietnam, the role of Vietnam protest in civil rights, and states his support for Johnson.

 

This blog is just a sample of the information available in the National Archives catalog. For more tips on searching for digitized records in the catalog, check out this post on Expanding Your Digital Toolkit.

Overview: August 1974 to 1976

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Although Nixon had officially ended US military involvement, Vietnam continued to be an ongoing concern for the Ford Administration through the Fall of Saigon in April, 1975.

 

The administration's efforts to avert the Communist overrun of South Vietnam were met with indifference to outright opposition. There was little support for financial aid in Congress, and even less for a proposed Congressional delegationhttps://catalog.archives.gov/id/1552953to Vietnam.  (Ford was still trying to organize the trip into March of 1975.)

 

The military defeat of South Vietnam in in the spring of 1975 sparked a massive evacuation of US personnel and Vietnamese allies, known as Operation Frequent Wind.  In the wake of the refugee crisis this sparked, Congress did approve humanitarian aid and eventually many Vietnamese settled in the United States.

 

Though many prisoners of war had been repatriated in 1973 after the conclusion of the war, the issue of the treatment POWs and American soldiers missing in action (MIA) continued to play a significant role in US foreign policy, leading the US to lobby against Socialist Republic of Vietnam’s acceptance as a member state in the United Nations through the end of the Ford administration

   President Gerald R. Ford Holding a Refugee Baby on an Evacuation

Bus at San Francisco International Airport Following the Arrival of an

Operation Babylift Plane from South Vietnam, 4/5/1975

 

Catalog Resources:

East Asia and Pacific Country Files, 1974 – 1977- Materials prepared for and by President Gerald R. Ford's National Security Adviser and National Security Council staff. Include discussions of the Vietnam War and its effects in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

 

Vietnam - Question and Answer Briefing Sheets (1975)- National Security Council materials, from the papers of Richard (Dick) Cheney.

 

Memorandum from Clinton E. Granger to Brent Scowcroft Regarding a Report on Vietnam, 4/5/1975- Report on situation in South Vietnam just before the fall of Saigon.

 

Amnesty - Ford Foundation Study of Effects of Vietnam on Veterans, Deserters and Evaders- 1974 study of the psychological, economic, social situation of veterans and anti-war activists, and recommendations of activities for the Ford Foundation.

 

1975/05/23 HR6894 Making Appropriations for Special Assistance to Refugees from Cambodia and Vietnam- Congressional appropriation for refugee resettlement and relocation.


This blog is just a sample of the information available in the National Archives catalog. For more tips on searching for digitized records in the catalog, check out this post on Expanding Your Digital Toolkit.

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Meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Security Council- Cuba Crisis. President Kennedy, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara. White House, Cabinet Room., 10/29/1962

 

Overview: 1961 to November 1963

President Eisenhower administration began first boots on the ground involvement of United States in Vietnam, sending the Military Assistance Advisory Group to train the South Vietnamese military after the partitioning of Vietnam in 1954. 

 

In the fallout of Cold War escalations including the Cuban Missile Crisis and construction of the Berlin Wall, Vietnam became a critical stage for US resistance to Communist influence.  The Kennedy administration committed to increased economic and military support, growing the number of military advisers from Eisenhower’s 900 to over 16,000 by 1963.

 

One of the most definitive actions taken by the Kennedy administration was its (tacit) approval of the military coup that overthrew and assassinated South Vietnamese President Diem.

 

Catalog Resources:

America's Stake in Vietnam June 1, 1956, 6/1/1956-  Kennedy speech outlining the case for U.S. intervention in Vietnam.

 

Papers of President Kennedy: White House Central Files: White House Subject File: National Security – Defense- Famous series of letters between JFK and Mrs. Bobbie Lou Pendergrass about the death of her brother, James McAndrew, and the purpose of US involvement in Vietnam (Feb 1963).

 

World Reaction to Developments in Vietnam, 9/14/1963- Viewpoints from Far East, Western Europe, Near East-South Asia, Africa, Latin America.

 

Report of McNamara-Taylor Mission to South Vietnam, 10/2/1963- Political and military situation in Vietnam.  Cautiously optimistic, but notes political tension and dissent with the Diem regime.  Diem would be overthrown and assassinated a month after this report was submitted.

 

Vietnam: General, 1963 and Vietnam: Security, 1963 from series Country Files, 1/20/1961 - 11/22/1963- State Department cables between the US Ambassador to Vietnam and the White House detailing the situation in Vietnam, especially concerns with the South Vietnamese government.

 

American Opinion Summary Department of State -- Vietnam, dated 10 September 1963., 9/10/1963

 

This blog is just a sample of the information available in the National Archives catalog. For more tips on searching for digitized records in the catalog, check out this post on Expanding Your Digital Toolkit.