I previously asked for help with finding WWII court martial records that might exist for a person who I am researching. I haven't heard from anyone, so I am going to broaden my question/search.
The person I am researching is Earle Montrose Pilgrim (1923–1976) and I am trying to find out details about his military service during WWII. Right now, all I know is what is provided in his Wikipedia bio, Earle M. Pilgrim - Wikipedia, namely: "On March 27, 1943, Pilgrim enlisted in the United States Army, where he played drums for the band and wrote for Yank, the Army Weekly, for the duration of the war until he was court-martialed for refusing to defer to a white officer."
I found Pilgrim's record in the World War II Army Enlistment Records, located at the Access to Archival Databases (AAD) section of the NARA website and confirmed the 27 Mar 1943 enlistment date. I have not had any luck to date with confirming the other items mentioned in the bio, that is, that he played drums for the [Army?] band, wrote for Yank, and was court martialed. Also, I do not know what unit(s) Pilgrim served with during WWII.
My next course of action will probably be to file a request with the National Personnel Records Center for his military records.
Does anyone have any suggestions for how I can research Mr. Pilgrim's military service during WWII?
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U.S. Army general courts-martial (GCM) records from 1917 to 1976 are in the custody of the National Archives at St. Louis, ATTN: RL-SL, P.O. Box 38757, St. Louis, MO 63138-1002. Please contact them for access to these records. Their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
These are separate from the Official Military Personnel Files (OMPFs), which are also in St. Louis. The OMPFs can be requested using a Standard Form 180, which you can download on the website at Request Your Military Service Records Online, by Mail, or by Fax | National Archives .
Megan DwyreTextual Reference Operations
National Archives at College Park, MD
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Megan's response is spot on. And to answer your other questions, the courts-martial records are filed by case number, but the National Archives at St. Louis has a name index that links the names to the case numbers. The records often include a transcript of the trial, including witness testimony. The records are unrestricted.
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Just in case you haven't already been to this site, you might also find some useful information and links on the National Archives' website for African American Research:
Good luck with your continued research!
I’m a Marine Corps veteran who served in the 1980s and 1990s. You question is very interesting, and I wonder about the wording “defer to a white officer”. Defer can mean a variety of things, so it’s unclear to a third party exactly what was meant here. Do you have any details about the incident itself, or the written narrative that accompanied the court martial charge?