2 Replies Latest reply on May 13, 2021 10:29 AM by Jason Atkinson

    Question about a Branch Code meaning.

    Hannah Majewski Newbie

      I'm trying to find enlistment information on Mack Benton who branch code on his AAD record states that he was a "Professor US Military Academy"; however his education on his record indicates he only had grammar school education.  His term of enlistment state "Enlistment for the Puerto Rican Department". Can someone explain what this means?  I'm trying to find a photo of him to place at his gravesite in the Ardennes Cemetery.



      Hannah Majewski

      Reference Librarian

      SC State Library

        • Re: Question about a Branch Code meaning.
          Rachael Salyer Ranger

          Dear Ms. Majewski,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          A description of the War Department's Puerto Rican Department can be found in the National Archives Catalog. Based on the overview of the Puerto Rican Department, it seems possible that the branch code for Mack Benton could have been “40 Coast Artillery Corps” rather than “4 Professor US Military Academy.” You may be able to use Mr. Benton’s Official Military Personnel File to confirm his enlistment information, including which Army branch he served in.


          If you have not done so already, we suggest that you request a copy of Mr. Benton’s Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). OMPFs and individual medical reports for enlisted men of the U.S. Army who were separated from the service after October 1912 and before 1959 are in the custody of NARA's National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis. 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 it to NARA's National Personnel Records Center, (Military Personnel Records), 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO  63138-1002. Veterans and their next of kin also may use eVetRecs to request records. See eVetRecs Help for instructions. For more information see Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF), Archival Records Requests.


          Please note that the "official" photograph of an individual is not considered to be a permanent federal record by the respective military services and is not retained in a separate collection by the service. If the photograph you are seeking still exists, it will most likely be found in the individual's Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). However, there is no guarantee the photograph will be present.


          If Mr. Benton was killed during the war, you may also wish to request his Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF). IDPFs from 1940-1976 for U.S. Army personnel with surnames that begin with A-L are in the custody of the National Archives at St. Louis (RL-SL). For more information about these records, please contact RL-SL via email at stl.archives@nara.gov.


          Photographs of various U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps activities dating from 1940 to 2007 are in the custody of the National Archives at College Park - Still Picture (RDSS). If you know which unit Mr. Benton served in, you may wish to contact RDSS via email at stillpix@nara.gov to see if they can offer you any additional assistance. Their website is https://www.archives.gov/dc-metro/college-park/photographs-dc.html.


          We also located a number of series that contain files related to the Puerto Rican Department, including the series Project Decimal Files, 1941-1945 in the Records of the Army Staff (Record Group 319) and 3 additional series in the Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (Record Group 165) that may be of interest to you. These records have not been digitized. Please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) at archives2reference@nara.gov for access to and information about these records.


          Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RL-SL, RDSS, and RDT2. Also, NPRC will continue servicing requests ONLY associated with medical treatments, burials, and homeless veterans seeking admittance to a homeless shelter. If your request is urgent, please see Emergency Requests and Deadlines. Please refrain from submitting non-emergency requests such as replacement medals, administrative corrections, or records research until NPRC returns to pre-COVID staffing levels. Please check archives.gov/veterans for updates to the NPRC operating hours and status. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.


          We hope this information is helpful, and best of luck with your research!


          • Re: Question about a Branch Code meaning.
            Jason Atkinson Guide

            As we describe in Question 1.4 of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for this series, available via AAD at https://aad.archives.gov/aad/content/aad_docs/rg64_army_serial_faq.pdf, when NARA received the original microfilm of the World War II punch card enlistment records, there was no documentation to explain the codes used in the records.  Since that time, we have located various versions of codes that the Army  used for the World War II enlistment records and have made educated guesses as to which version of the codes were actually used for the records.  From these codes we have been able to decipher many, but not all, of the codes.  We also know that the meanings of some of the codes changed throughout the war, which makes it even more difficult to accurately decipher the codes used in the enlistment records.  In addition, many of the electronic World War II records are known to have errors that may have occurred at the time of encoding.  


            These could be some of the reasons why there is an apparent discrepancy in the values in some of the fields in this record.


            You may access the documentation we compiled for these records at: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/1263923.