4 Replies Latest reply on Jul 11, 2020 4:48 PM by Lori Berdak Miller

    Seeking information about James Earnest


      Hello, I was wondering if you can help me.  I have "adopted" the grave of a soldier who was killed during WWII and he comes from Winfield, Marion County. His name is James Edward Earnest and was born November 18, 1924. His Army Service Number is 34817113. He served with the 18th Infantry Regiment. He is buried just across the border in Belgium on the Henri Chapelle War Cemetery. In the Netherlands and Belgium, it is a tradition to adopt the graves of our fallen liberators and to take care and visit their graves because their own family most of the times is not able. What I find very important is that we also research who this fallen hero was and try to put a story to a name. I therefore reach out to you to see if you can help me in any way to maybe help me to find information about "my soldier" and give this name a life story but perhaps also a face. Maybe you can give me some pointers on where to reach out to. I thank you kindly for any possible way you can help me. Kind regards from the Netherlands.

        • Re: Seeking information about James Earnest
          Alice Lane Ranger

          Hi Eric,

          Thanks for posting on History Hub, I think that is a wonderful idea to a adopt a grave.


          I found a family tree of Eric family and have sent a message to one of its contributors. Hope they will get back to you.


          Best Wishes

          Alice Lane

          Volunteer Researcher

          • Re: Seeking information about James Earnest

            Good morning.


            To obtain a copy of the veteran's military records, you may download and complete a Standard Form 180 (https://www.archives.gov/files/sf180-request-pertaining-to-military-records-exp-april2018-1.pdf ).


            You may then mail the completed form to the National Personnel Records Center at the following address:


            National Personnel Records Center
            1 Archives Drive
            St. Louis, MO 63138


            You may also fax the completed form to 314-801-9195



            Carl Urich

            • Re: Seeking information about James Earnest
              Jason Atkinson Guide

              Dear Mr. Busschers,


              Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


              We searched the World War II Enlistment Records on the National Archives’ Access to Archival Databases (AAD) and located the following entry for EARNEST#JAMES#E.


              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 prior to 1958 are in the custody of NARA's National Personnel Records Center 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 are things the form asks for which you do not know, you can leave those spaces blank, however the more information you provide, the easier it will be to locate the correct records. When you mail the form, you can also include an attachment providing additional information such as date of death, last assigned unit, and place of entry into service. For more information see Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF), Archival Records Requests.


              We also suggest that you also request his Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF). IDPFs from 1940-1976 for personnel with surnames that begin with A-L are in the custody of the National Archives at St. Louis (RL-SL), P.O. Box 38757, St. Louis, MO 63138-1002. For access to these records, please contact RL-SL via email at stl.archives@nara.gov.


              We searched the National Archives Catalog and located Draft Registration Cards for Alabama, 10/16/1940 - 3/31/1947 in the Records of the Selective Service (Record Group 147) that includes a card for James Edward Earnest. We are attaching a copy at the end of our response.


              You may also be interested in his selective service classification ledger.  Classification Ledgers (SSS Form 102), also known as a Classification History, chronicle the status of each man’s eligibility, exemptions, tests, entry, and final disposition from service.  The codes for these classification ledgers can be found on the Selective Service System’s website. Supplementary information provided by registrants (medical records, school enrollment forms, or other documents supporting reasons for classifications) was not considered permanent record material and as such was not retained by the Selective Service Commission.  For example, the National Archives cannot provide documentation or a reason for why someone was classified as “4F”. To access draft registration cards or classification ledgers for 1940 – 1975, please fill out the Selective Service System Records Request form and send it to: National Archives & Records Administration, National Archives - St. Louis, ATTN: RL-SL P.O. Box 38757. For more information see Selective Service Records.


              Morning reports for Army units from November 1, 1912 to 1959 are in the custody of the National Archives at St. Louis (RL-SL). For access to these records, please contact RL-SL via email at stl.archives@nara.gov


              We also located the World War II Operations Reports, 1940-1948 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1917-1981 (Record Group 407) that includes records of the 1st Infantry Division and may include records of the 18th Infantry Regiment. While unit records typically do not include detailed information about each soldier, individual soldiers are sometimes mentioned in reports and general orders. In particular, you may wish to check any histories and after action reports there may be for the day he was killed, as these can provide insight into what action his saw the day he was killed.  Individual casualties are sometimes mentioned by name. For more information about these records, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email at archives2reference@nara.gov.


              Photographs of various U.S. Army activities and subjects during WWII are in the custody of the National Archives at College Park - Still Picture (RDSS). Please contact RDSS via email at stillpix@nara.gov for more information.


              In addition, we located the Population Schedules for the 1930 Census, 1930 - 1930 in the Records of the Bureau of the Census (Record Group 29) that included the following entry for James E. Earnest.

              Name:  James E Earnest

              Birth Year:  abt 1925

              Gender:  Male

              Race:  White

              Birthplace:  Alabama

              Marital status:  Single

              Relation to Head of House:  Son

              Home in 1930:  Sugar Creek, Fayette, Alabama, USA

              Dwelling Number:  1

              Family Number:  1

              Attended School:  No

              Father's Birthplace:  Alabama

              Mother's Birthplace:  Alabama

              Household Members: 

              Name                         Age

              Earl M Earnest  46

              Martha E Earnest  44

              Bythel E Earnest  20

              Byron A Earnest  20

              Anne E Earnest  13

              Merian S Earnest  10

              John M Earnest  7

              James E Earnest  5

              Robert K Earnest  2


              In the Population Schedules for the 1940 Census, 1940 - 1940 in Record Group 29 and located the following was located:


              Name:  James E Earnest

              Age:  14

              Estimated birth year:  abt 1926

              Gender:  Male

              Race:  White

              Birthplace:  Alabama

              Marital status:  Single

              Relation to Head of House:  Son

              Home in 1940:    Sugar Creek, Fayette, Alabama

              Inferred Residence in 1935:  Rural, Fayette, Alabama

              Residence in 1935:  Rural, Fayette, Alabama

              Resident on farm in 1935:  Yes

              Sheet Number:  1A

              Attended School or College:  Yes

              Highest Grade Completed:  Elementary school, 7th grade

              Income Other Sources:  No

              Household Members: 

              Name                         Age

              Earl M Earnest  55

              Martha E Earnest  53

              Byrom A Earnest  31

              John M Earnest  16

              James E Earnest  14

              Robert K Earnest  11


              For information about accessing these records, please see our web page Introduction to Census Records. You also may email the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1) and Archives1reference@nara.gov.


              Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RL-SL, RDT2, RDSS, and RDT1. Also, the National Personnel Records Center is servicing only urgent requests related to homeless veterans, medical emergencies, and funerals which may be faxed to 314-801-0764.  We thank you for your patience and look forward to resuming normal operations when the public health emergency has ended.


              We searched Newspapers.com and located a copy of a newspaper announcement of his death.  We are attaching a copy at the end of our response.


              We also searched Find-A-Grave and located their entry for PFC Earnest. The entry links his some of his siblings, and includes obituaries for some of them.  Others have had luck locating surviving relatives of World War II veterans by contacting funeral homes, churches, and relatives mentioned in the obituaries of their siblings.


              For general information about the 18th Infantry Regiment and the 1st Infantry Division to which it was assigned, we suggest searching online and through libraries and retailers for histories of the unit. The following is a sample of the sources we located.


              Other institutions which may be able to assist you in researching PFC Earnest  and/or his unit include the Winfield Public Library, the Marion County Genealogical Society, the Fayette County Memorial Library, Alabama Genealogy, the Alabama Veterans Memorial Foundation, the Fayette Historical Society, the Society of the 1st Infantry Division, the First Division Museum, and the First Infantry Division Museum.


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


              2 people found this helpful
              • Re: Seeking information about James Earnest

                Mr. Busschers,


                These are all great suggestions, especially the IDPF.  When NARA-St. Louis ever reopens, it gives one the opportunity to hold this paperwork in person, which is like a history lesson in your hands.  Sad cases, but nice to know one is not forgotten.