15 Replies Latest reply on Mar 29, 2022 12:32 PM by Susan Chumney

    Seeking to identify year of this Army photo by the uniform

    Susan Chumney Wayfarer

      I inherited a photo of a relative in Army uniform, and would like to know what year it might be from, so that we can identify the person. Can anyone help us to identify what year this photo might be from, so we can start researching and figure out who he is? (I have a short list of names of people he might be...but don't know which generation he might be from). Additional jackpot question: is there any way to find out exactly who he is?

      Army photo, year unknown

        • Re: Seeking to identify year of this Army photo by the uniform
          Elliot Schneider Guide

          Susan,

           

          This is standard WW2 Army issues dress uniform. Also if you have any additional photos that might indicate unit patches on sleeves would be great. He dose have a Marksmen Badge. You could try reaching out the state or county that he may have lived in and acquire about seeing if they have a comprehensive list of women and men that served from the county he lived in at the time.

          • Re: Seeking to identify year of this Army photo by the uniform
            Jason Atkinson Guide

            Dear Ms. Chumney,

            Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

             

            We compared the photograph to the information in the Survey of U.S. Army Uniforms, Weapons and Accouterments posted online by the US Army Center of Military History. The uniform coat appears to be the Pattern 1939 Wool Service Coat which was approved for procurement in 1940. The cap is the garrison cap which was introduced in 1941 and modified slightly in 1942. This uniform continued to be used until it was replaced by the Army Green Uniform, which was not issued until 1957 and did not become mandatory until 1961. Unfortunately, there are not any details in the photograph which would allow us to identify the specific year the photo was taken.  It may have been taken anytime between 1941 and 1961. For more information about the history of US Army uniforms, you may wish to contact the U.S. Army Center of Military History.

             

            There are also not any visible details that would allow us to positively identify his branch, unit, rank or name. If the photograph was in color or the branch insignia on his left lapel (viewer’s right) were clearer, we might be able to identify his branch within the Army (i.e. Infantry, Armor, Engineers, etc.) from the color of the piping on his garrison cap or pattern on the disc. A close inspection of the branch insignia suggests that it may have been Signal Corps, however this is by no means certain. As Mr. Schneider notes he does have a Marksman Badge, however this was the lowest and most commonly earned level of marksmanship badge in the US Army.  There is no centralized listing of those that earned it, and if there were it would be a rather lengthy list and would not necessarily narrow things down much.

             

            It is usually impossible for the National Archives to identify a soldier using a photograph alone.  The "official" photograph of an individual is not considered to be permanent federal records by the respective military services and is not retained in a separate collection by the service. Therefore, we have no record of the appearance of the vast majority of people that have served in the US Armed Forces. Nor do we have a way to search the photographs that we do have using facial recognition alone.

             

            We hope this is helpful.

            1 person found this helpful
              • Re: Seeking to identify year of this Army photo by the uniform
                Susan Chumney Wayfarer

                Thank you so much! Now that you have narrowed down the date for me, I see that I did have a relative serving in World War 2. His name was John Pearl Greene, and I have his enlistment date (5/29/1942) and discharge date (11/4/1945). I also have his SSN. Can you tell me where to go from here - how can I find out whether that photo is actually him, and more information about his military service? (I have been using Ancestry for some time, for genealogy, but have never researched anything military.)

                Thanks again!

                Susan Chumney

                  • Re: Seeking to identify year of this Army photo by the uniform
                    Autumn Hendrickson Wayfarer

                    Hi Ms. Chumney,

                     

                    I do not work for NARA but may be able to help you here! You could try to obtain Mr. Greene's Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) from the National Archives Personnel Records Center (Military). There is a way to make this request online but you can also send in a written request. Whatever feels best to you is probably fine. Sadly, it is important to note that there was a large fire in 1973 that took out many OMPFs and your relative's one may have been one of the ones destroyed. However, they might be able to reconstruct the file so it's certainly worth a try if you are really that interested! You could also request Mr. Greene's DD-214 (discharge papers) from the state he lived in and if that doesn't get you anywhere, you could again reach out to the National Archives for his DD-214.

                     

                    I hope this is somewhat helpful!

                    • Re: Seeking to identify year of this Army photo by the uniform
                      Jason Atkinson Guide

                      Dear Ms. Chumney,

                       

                      Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

                       

                      The "official" photograph of an individual is not considered to be permanent federal records by the respective military services and is not retained in a separate collection by the service. If a military photograph of him 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.

                       

                      To research his service, we suggest that you request a copy of his 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 1960 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. If there is any information requested by the form that you do not know, you may omit it or provide estimates (such as for dates), but the more information you provide, the easier it will be to locate the correct file if it survived the fire. For more information see Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF), Archival Records Requests.

                       

                      We searched the Access to Archival Databases (AAD) and located the World War II Army Enlistment Records database that includes a file pertaining to John P. Green (Army Serial Number 31115041). Please use the information in this file when requesting a copy of his Official Military Personnel File (OMPF).

                       

                      Additionally, 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). Please contact RDSS via email at stillpix@nara.gov to request a search for a photograph of a specific soldier. However, please note that RDSS does not have photographs of every soldier that served in the US Army, and that captions of photographs frequently do not name every soldier in the photograph.

                       

                      You may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgment as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDSS. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience as we balance mission-critical work and the safety of our staff during the pandemic.  Please check NARA’s web page about COVID-19 updates for the latest information.

                       

                      We also located Hospital Admission Card Files (documenting 1942 - 1954) in the Records of the Office of the Surgeon General (Army) (Record Group 112) which includes the following entry for him.

                       

                      Name:

                         John P Greene

                      Admission Date:

                         Apr 1944

                      Discharge Date:

                         1944

                      Diagnosis:

                         Diagnosis: Conjunctivitis, catarrhal

                      Type of Discharge:

                         Duty

                      Length of Service:

                         No entry made

                      Service Number:

                      31115041

                       

                      Plus, we located Draft Registration Cards for Vermont, 10/16/1940 - 3/31/1947 in the Records of the Selective Service System, 1926–1975, (Record Group 147) which includes a draft registration card for him. We are attaching a digital copy of the card to the end of our reply.

                      Finally we located John P Greene in the U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010.

                      Name:

                         John P Greene

                      Gender:

                         Male

                      Birth Date:

                         20 Apr 1907

                      Death Date:

                         29 Dec 1984

                      Enlistment Branch:

                         ARMY

                      Enlistment Date:

                         29 May 1942

                      Discharge Date:

                      4 4 Nov 1945


                      You may wish to contact local historical societies, genealogical societies and public libraries for his hometown to inquire about additional resources such as back issues of local newspapers that may mention him or records of local organizations which he may have joined. You may also wish to speak to other family members to try to determine if anyone has any additional photographs of him. 

                       

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

                       

                      1 person found this helpful
                        • Re: Seeking to identify year of this Army photo by the uniform
                          Susan Chumney Wayfarer

                          Thank you so much, Mr. Atkinson! You have been generous with both your time and your knowledge. This is all fascinating to me - and I did a lot of reading last night about that 1973 fire. What a loss of historical memory. I was impressed with the recovery efforts and also the use of supplemental sources to still be able to reconstruct a service member's history. It's so important that our family members who served get the credit they deserve for their sacrifices. Thank you again for pointing me to these rich resources. I can't wait to see what comes back!

                          Sincerely,

                          Susan

                    • Re: Seeking to identify year of this Army photo by the uniform
                      Neal Durham Wayfarer

                      Hi Susan:  I recently phoned the National Archives and got a recording.  Yes, due to COVID, they are short handed.  May take a while to get back to you.  That is what I have done. When researching a name, it is best to have the first name, middle name and last name.  The middle name can be very important to separate from other similar names.  Where born or lived and approximate date of birth, does not need to be exact.  When utilizing google, request the unit history of that person's unit and apply the time frame to the person.  In WWII, the Army was not very good at keeping records  sometimes.  Hope this helps you out.  I am retired Navy if you can tell.    Neal Durham

                      • Re: Seeking to identify year of this Army photo by the uniform
                        kim hardaway Wayfarer

                        I will look closer in newspaper.com to see if I can find a photo and we can see if he is indeed your relative in the photo

                        • Re: Seeking to identify year of this Army photo by the uniform
                          Tommy Johnson Adventurer

                          Based on the fact that he has only a Marksmanship Badge I would say this photo was taken during or immediately after Basic Training.

                          1 person found this helpful