If the original address of the individual being sought is known, you can pursue local sources of information within the United States. Among the many possible avenues are: offices of vital records for birth, death or marriage records; high school reunion organizers and college alumni associations; Adjutant General’s Office in the person’s home state for data on personnel who served in World War II, Korea, or Vietnam; county and state Department of Veterans’ Affairs Offices in cases of Veterans’ benefits or hospitalization; local posts of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, AmVets, etc for information on local veterans; county Probate Offices for a will or Letters of Administration if he or she possessed property in the county and is now deceased; local newspapers, for articles obituaries, death notices, etc; state Offices of Vital Statistics for death records of service personnel who died while on active duty. Please note that the American Embassy, Berlin, does not maintain addresses for the above offices.
Private organizations can provide guidance to assist in tracing relatives and friends. Private detectives and tracing agencies in the U.S., can also assist, but they are often expensive.
Books & Newspapers
How to Locate Anyone Who Is or Has Been In The Military, 5th Edition by Lt Col (Ret) Richard Johnson, (MIE Publishing, PO Box 17188, Spartanburg, SC 29301, price $23) details hundreds of ways to locate current and former service members of all branches, including National Guard and Reserve. It explains how to obtain copies of individual service records, rosters, muster rolls, after-action reports, and numerous other military records. Please note that Lt Col Johnson also runs a commercial detective agency specializing in the tracing of former members of the military.
Several general books covering U.S. forces in the U.K. during World War II have proved useful to researchers, as they occasionally detail the geographical location of specific units. Shirley McGlade’s Daddy, Where Are You?, a personal account of her search for her father, lists useful contact addresses. Further suggestions are given on the Military History – Books Information Sheet, available from the Defense Attaché Office on written request.
It may also be worthwhile writing to newspapers or specialist publications which circulate in the area where the missing person was last known to live.
The following organizations may be able to assist in cases of sufficiently compelling humanitarian need, and where the missing person is a close relative:
Deutsches Rotes Kreuz
Postfach 450 230
Tel: 030 / 85404 – 0
Adoptees’ Liberty Movement
Box 254, Washington Bdge Station
New York, NY 10033
Tel: 001 212 581 1568
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Through its Family History Resources the Church offers advice to those undertaking family history research. There are over 2,400 Family History Centers worldwide including quite a number in the U.K. Most are located in meetinghouses of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here you can find census returns, wills, church records, etc for most parts of the world. In addition, you can consult the International Genealogical Index (IGI) and the Ancestral File. The IGI is a worldwide index of approximately 187 million names of deceased persons. Searches can also be made on-line through the Familysearch.com website. The Index does not contain records of living persons. The Ancestral File contains genealogical data on millions of individuals from many countries, including information on names, dates and places of birth, marriage and death. Most of the information on the File concerns deceased persons. The File also contains names and addresses of persons who have submitted information, and this information is up-dated periodically.
Social Security Administration & The Department of Veterans Affairs
Both the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs will attempt to forward correspondence to missing persons, but only when a considerable monetary or strong humanitarian consideration is involved. You should send a letter intended for the missing person, along with a brief letter of explanation to the appropriate agency. The letter to be forwarded should contain nothing of value and be in a plain, unsealed, unstamped envelope bearing only the person’s full name and social security/ military serial number. If this number is not known, you should include other identifying information, such as date/ place of birth or parents’ names in the covering letter. Write to:
Social Security Administration
30 North Green Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420
In the case of the Social Security Administration (SSA), a $3 fee applies in cases involving a monetary purpose. An International Money Order in dollars should be enclosed and made payable to the ‘Social Security Administration’. The SSA will be unable to report whether or not the letter is actually delivered.
In addition to the Internet locator services listed above, many hundreds of sites – official and unofficial, commercial and free of charge – exist to aid in tracing missing persons and family genealogy. Such sites include: the National Vet Archive; American Veteran Search; the Navy Memorial Foundation’s Navy Log; American Legion Library page; Military Police Locator Service, and many others. Keyword searches on military and locator or military and reunions will lead to dozens of sites, many with links to other avenues of research.
NB: IMPORTANT NOTICE – It is not possible to trace the whereabouts of persons through U.S. immigration channels. Records of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service are protected by the Privacy Act and cannot be divulged to third parties.
We hope that success results from your efforts. Unfortunately, other than the preceding information, the Defense Attaché Office cannot assist further with individual searches for current or former members of the military.