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Dear Mr. Ng,
Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!
If you have not done so already, we suggest that you request a copy of your grandfather’s Official Military Personnel File (OMPF), which may include some information about his marriage abroad. OMPFs and individual medical reports for those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces and who were separated from the service before 1959 are in the custody of NARA's National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis. In many cases where Army and Army Air Corps 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. Navy and Marine Corps OMPFs were not affected by the fire. 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.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NPRC will continue servicing requests ONLY associated with medical treatments, burials, homeless veterans seeking admittance to a homeless shelter, and those involving the VA Home Loan program. 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.
If your grandmother became a naturalized U.S. citizen when she arrived in the U.S., then she most likely would have given up her French citizenship; otherwise, there was no requirement from the U.S. government that war brides give up their citizenship from their native-born country.
In order to learn your grandmother’s U.S. citizenship status, you would need to locate an Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) record for her. An Index Search to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Genealogy Program may be a good place to begin as they work to determine what kind of INS record(s) exist. Once you know your grandmother's Alien Registration Number (A-Number), you may request Certification of Non-Existence of a Record of Naturalization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) if it seems likely that she did not become a U.S. citizen. More information about the request process can be found on the USCIS website Genealogy Frequently Asked Questions (see 3rd question from the bottom). Obtaining a copy of any INS records and a certification of non-existence from USCIS should support a dual citizenship request.
Finally, if your grandparents filed for a certificate of marriage abroad with the U.S. Department of State, there may be some relevant paperwork with that record. More information is available on the Department of State website How to Request a Copy of a Certificate of Witness to Marriage Abroad (filed before November 9, 1989).
We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your family research!
[Some information provided by Elizabeth Burnes and Cathleen Brennan, Subject Matter Experts.]
Hi! Thank you for your response. We have some of my Grandfathers service papers, however, a lot of the records were lost in the fire. We also have their certificate of marriage. We also have my Grandmother's naturalization papers from 1954. Interestingly, JFK swore her in and her most vivid memory of this was his hair was messy! My Grandparents had an amazing "Winds of War" story - my grandfather was born in China, but was a US citizen because his father was a US citizen. They had an interracial marriage and were both discriminated against by his Chinese family and the Catholic church. They didn't have a common language but were able to speak German to communicate during the early courtship. If anyone is up for a good read about their life during and after the war, my Aunt wrote a book about them. It is sold on Amazon and titled "Quiet Courage".
On another note regarding war brides and the military, would there have been more benefits to the family when my Grandmother became a citizen? She had born two children in the marriage, both born in France. Would the U.S. require the Mother of the two children to become a citizen back in 1952? Would any military benefits have increased or become into effect after the war bride gained US citizenship? Thank you again for helping me answer these questions.
Dear Mr. Ng,
Thank you for posting your follow-up request on History Hub!
In general, military benefits are based on a soldier’s or veteran’s individual service (e.g. their rank and time in service), not on the size or make up of their family. If your grandmother had not become a naturalized citizen, she would have had to maintain legal resident status once the family moved back to the U.S. There was no requirement that the wife of a service member become a U.S. citizen, regardless of whether or not the couple had any children. The Veterans Affairs (VA) History Office may be able to provide you with more information about historic benefits and eligibility. We suggest that you contact them directly for further assistance.
We hope this is helpful.
If your grandmother applied for US citizenship and was naturalized she gave up her citizenship, what probably means there is no chance for you to obtain the citizenship.
I also would try to find out for sure what are the rules in France. A good information for the beginning would be to look for words in google like "France citizenship by ancestry or descent". There will pop up several web pages with information and what to look for in your family history, f.e. start here https://nomadcapitalist.com/global-citizen/second-passport/french-citizenship-by-descent/ .
To me it seems it depends on what your parents (not grandparents) citizenship is, f.e. maybe your parent was born before your grandmother became a US citizen, what could mean that your parent could apply for French citizenship because he/she was born to a French citizen and just this fact would open the way for you.
Thank you Sabine - My Father was actually born in the USA. We are jointly filing for citizenship. I started the process when I was 17 (I am 19 now), then COVID hit, so things slowed down. We have followed all of their steps and then we received a letter asking why my Grandmother gave up her citizenship. Her sister, who still lives in France, says she didn't think she had an option to keep dual citizenship at the time. This is why we are looking for information on why she couldn't keep her French citizenship. We are looking towards possible rules from the Army requiring her to get her citizenship due to being married to a soldier, and/or if there was an incentive to become a citizen for increased benefits from the Army. I am also looking into her having no choice (by law) in being allowed to keep dual citizenship when she became a citizen in 1954. Any information or direction from anyone would be helpful. It is worth a shot trying, especially if she didn't have an option to keep her dual citizenship. Thank you! Ben