2 Replies Latest reply on Jun 20, 2019 9:49 AM by J. Andrew

    Seeking clarification regarding ordering archival military service records

    J. Andrew Scout

      I understand that the Official Military Personnel Files of veterans that separated from military prior to 1957 are considered Archival Records Requests and are therefore subject to different rules than for latter records. However there are a few finer points on which I need clarification.

      1) Can eVetRecs be used to request archival records by persons other than a "Next of kin" (spouse, father, mother, son, daughter, sister, brother) or are non-next-of-kin required to instead use an SF-180?  For example, can a grandson use eVetRecs to order the records of his grandfather that served during World War II and separated prior to 1957.

      2) Does the cut off date for separation only include active duty service, or does it include all forms of service?  For example, if a person served as active duty in the Army Air Corps/Army Air Force and latter entered the Air Force Reserves or the Air National Guard, does the discharge date from the active duty or from the reserves count as the cut off date for whether the records are considered archival?

      3) If a military member served in more than one branch, in nonconsecutive enlistment terms, or in more than one status, will there be separate OMPFs for the same person, or will all their years of service be combined into one file?

      To pick some examples from people I know:

      A person serves in the Army Air Force and then in the US Air Force.

      A person enlists as a Regular Army solider. He then enters the National Guard for a period of several years.  He then reenters the Regular Army.

      A person enlists in the US Army Reserves. He then goes through ROTC, accepts a commission and is placed on active duty as an officer.

      A person enlists in the Army Reserves.  He then transfers to the Army National Guard. He then transfers to the Regular Army.

      A person transfers from the Army to the Navy.

      3)  Your web pages state that there are fees for ordering archival OMPFs. Does this apply to orders of archival records by the veteran himself or his next of kin?

      4) Your web pages state in some places that archival OMPFs are open to the public and the Privacy Act does not apply, and in other places it states that information in these files might be redacted for privacy reasons.  Which is the case?  In cases where the veteran is deceased is there still a possibility of privacy related redactions?  Does it make a difference if the request is coming from a next of kin?

      5) In regard to the 1973 fire, if someone served first in the Army Air Force and then in the Air Force Reserves, should we look at the listing for the Army or for the Air Force when judging the likelihood that there records were destroyed?  The person I'm thinking of had a surname starting with A.

        • Re: Seeking clarification regarding ordering archival military service records
          Holly Rivet Tracker

          Dear Mr. Andrew,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          The online format for requesting records from the National Personnel Records Center at St. Louis, eVetRecs, is reserved for veterans and next of kin listed on the website.  All others may submit a completed SF-180 to the appropriate address denoted on page three of the form.


          The qualification for a record to be considered Archival is separation of service 62 years from the current date.  This does include participation in the reserves. For example, a Marine who separated from active duty in 1957, but was still kept on a list of men who could be activated for two more years (1959) in a time of need is not  Archival. If you are unsure about the specific separation date, still request the record so we can check for you. 


          Service records were created and held in the custody of the independent branches of the military prior to being accessioned into the National Archives. Therefore the Army would not be able to combine a file they created with one from the Navy.  Enlistments and commissions within one branch may be tricky. If a person enlisted in the Navy and worked their way to being an Officer then they should have only one Navy Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). However if he enlisted, left, then came back as a Commissioned Officer he should have two separate files.  Possible combinations occurred only when the files were in custody of the originating branch, in this case the Navy. 


          Regarding service for multiple branches, each record is independent from others in determination of Archival status.  For example, if a person separated from the Navy in 1952 then later served in the Air Force and separated in 1962 then the Navy OMPF would be Archival while the Air Force record would not be.  A Navy service member who left the service then came back as a Commissioned Officer may have an enlisted record that is Archival while the Officer record may not be. 


          There is a fee for copies of Archival OMPFs.  Under extenuating circumstances, said fees may be waived but this is determined on a case by case basis.  The fee schedule for OMPFs may be found on this webpage.  Archival records can be viewed for free in the St. Louis Archival Research Room


          Redactions are made in accordance with NARA’s general restrictions for personal privacy information, 36 CFR 1256 and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), U.S.C.552 (b) (6).  For more information on this topic, please visit NARA’s page on FOIA Exemptions


          Roughly 80% of Army OMPF (including Army Air Corps) records with separation of service dates 1/1/1912-9/7/1959 and 75% of Air Force records with separation of service dated 9/25/1947-12/31/1963 with surnames Hubbard - Z were destroyed in the 1973 Fire.  Although the damage was extensive, the Army and the Air Force supplied the National Archives with auxiliary files to reconstruct a file. When you submit the SF-180, please indicate the era of service to assist us in our search for the veteran’s files. 


          We hope this information is helpful.



          Holly Rivet


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