15 Replies Latest reply on Mar 26, 2019 10:48 AM by Nicole Poletika

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

    Nicole Poletika Newbie

      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!

        • Re: How to find WWI veteran's rank when sources conflict?
          Rebecca Collier Ranger

          Dear Ms. Poletika,

           

          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

           

          His rank should be listed in his Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). OMPFs and individual medical reports for officers of the U.S. Army who were separated from the service after June 1917 and prior to 1956 are in the custody of the National Archives at St. Louis (RL-SL). In many cases where personnel records were destroyed in the 1973 fire, proof of service can be provided from other records such as morning reports, payrolls, and military orders, and a certificate of military service will be issued. Please complete a GSA Standard Form 180 and mail to the National Archives at St. Louis (RL-SL), 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO  63138-1002 or send it via email to stl.archives@nara.gov.

           

          If not, his rank might be listed in his Official Personnel File (OPF). OPFs and medical information for individuals who worked for the U.S. government in a civilian capacity prior to 1952 are in the custody of the National Archives at St. Louis, P.O. Box 38757, St. Louis, MO 63138. Please include full name used during Federal employment, date of birth, Social Security Number (if applicable), name and location of employing Federal agency, beginning and ending dates of Federal Service. For more information, the web site is https://www.archives.gov/st-louis/archival-programs/civilian-personnel-archival/index.html.

           

          We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

          3 people found this helpful
          • Re: How to find WWI veteran's rank when sources conflict?
            Holly Rivet Scout

            Dear Ms. Poletika,

             

            Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

             

            If you are only looking for his final rank, we recommend requesting his WWI Officer Pay Card.  This record will include his name, rank, date of commission, date of discharge, and more.  To access this record, please contact the Reference Team at the National Archives at St. Louis.

             

            National Archives and Records Administration

            National Archives at St. Louis

            ATTN: RL-SL

            PO Box 38757

            St. Louis, MO 63138

            stl.archives@nara.gov

             

            We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

            Holly Rivet

             

            3 people found this helpful
            • Re: How to find WWI veteran's rank when sources conflict?
              Michael Culbertson Wayfarer

              Ancestry.com has the application for his headstone, QMC Form 646 (13 Oct 52), which was submitted to the Memorial Division of the Office of the Quartermaster General.  On the front of the form, his grade is shown in block 7 as Major.

               

              The form was likely filled out by Dewey Shoemaker of the Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, using information supplied to him by Mrs. Susan Knox Ward.

               

              On the back of the form is the following information about his service.  These notes were made in red pencil by someone working in the Memorial Division, presumably the same person who checked the information on the front of the form.

               

              "Accepted Comm 1 Lt Med Sec ORC 10 Aug 1917 A/D same date

              Sub Service Lt. Col. Med Sec ORC Apmt terminated under Hon conditions 9-23-1934

              No A/D as a Reserve Officer"

               

              While this information is sketchy, it appears that he was honorably discharged from the Organized Reserve Corps in September 1934 as a Lieutenant Colonel.

               

              The Memorial Division's information came from written Army records.  Mrs. Ward's information was given more than twenty years after Dr. Ward retired from the VA.

               

              If he was a Lt Col during the time he worked in Tuskegee, he would have been addressed as Colonel.

               

              I hope this helps.

               

               

              Michael W. Culbertson

              Sergeant Major, US Army Retired

              2 people found this helpful