2 Replies Latest reply on Mar 18, 2019 5:26 PM 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 Pioneer

          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!

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