1 Reply Latest reply on Jul 8, 2020 6:42 AM by Jason Atkinson

    Seeking records of US deserters during WWI, WWII & Vietnam


      I need documents about US soldiers who were executed for desertion during WWi, WWII & Vietnam, including the place where they are buried. Plus any courts-martial records.

        • Re: Seeking records of US deserters during WWI, WWII & Vietnam
          Jason Atkinson Ranger

          Dear Mr. Dedeyan,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          No U.S. service members were executed for desertion during World War I, and no American service members were executed for any reason during the Vietnam War. Of the soldiers executed during World War II, only one, Edward “Eddie” Donald Slovik, was executed for desertion.


          We searched the National Archives Catalog and located Official Military Personnel Files, 1912 - 1998 in the Records of the Army Staff (Record Group 319) which contains the Official Military Personnel File for Edward Slovik. This OMPF has been digitized in full and may be viewed online using the Catalog. 


          We also located the Court-Martial Case File and Related Correspondence of the Court-Martial of Private Eddie Slovik in the Records of the Office of the Judge Advocate General (Army) (Record Group 153). Portions of this series have been digitized and may be viewed online using  the Catalog. There may be additional documents in this series that are not yet available online. Please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email at Archives2reference@nara.gov to inquire about these records.


          We also located Personal Papers, 1912 - 1961 in the Norman D. Cota Papers (Collection DDE-1055) that discusses this case. We also located Oral History Transcripts, 1962 - 1998 in the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library Oral History Collection, 1962 - 1998 (Collection DDE-OH) that mentions Eddie Slovik. These records are not available online. For more information about these records, please email the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library (LP-DDE) at eisenhower.library@nara.gov.


          We also located Robert Lipshutz's Subject Files, 1977 - 1981 in the Record Collection Robert Lipshutz Papers (Collection JC-RLIPSH) that contains the file Slovik, Eddie. Additionally, we located Robert J. Lipshutz's Files, 1977 - 1979 in the Records of the White House Office of Counsel to the President, 1977 - 1981 (Collection JC-1002) which contains the file Slovik, Eddie, 2/78-8/78. Based on the Catalog descriptions, these records may be related to attempts to secure a posthumous pardon for Eddie Slovik. These records are not available online. For more information about these records, please email the Jimmy Carter Library (LP-JC) at carter.library@nara.gov.


          Finally, we located Mary Smith's Files, 1996 - 1997 containing the file Posthumous Pardon Matters; as well as Meredith Cabe's Files, 1998 - 2001 containing the file Eddie D. Slovik.  Both of these records are in the Records of the Office of the Counsel to the President (Clinton Administration), 1993 - 2001 (Collection WJC-OCP), and may be viewed online. The digitized versions available online may be redacted in part.  Please direct any questions about these files to the William J. Clinton Library (LP-WJC) via email at clinton.library@nara.gov.


          When viewing digitized files, you may wish to click on the red PDF icon under the “Documents” heading. This will allow you to view the files in a PDF format. Once you have done so, you may use the blue download button to download the PDFs to your own computer or mobile device.  Due to the size of the files involved, it may take a little while for them to load in full. Please be patient.  If you have any problems accessing these files, please email Catalog@nara.gov.


          Slovik was initially buried in Plot E of Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial in Fère-en-Tardenois. In 1987, after an appeal to President Ronald Reagan, Slovik's remains were removed from Row 3, Grave 65 of Plot E and transferred to Detroit's Woodmere Cemetery.  The reburial is described in the Jul 12, 1987 edition of the Eugene Register-Guard. There may be records relating to this matter in the custody of the Ronald Reagan Library (LP-RR). Please contact LP-RR via email at reagan.library@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 RDT2, LP-DDE, LP-JC, LP-WJC, and LP-RR. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.


          The execution of Eddie Slovik, being the only American execution for desertion since the American Civil War, is a rather famous incident, and there are a host of secondary sources about the topic online and in published books.


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