FamilySearch Honors the Fallen

The following is from FamilySearch:

FamilySearch Logo 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (November 11, 2015) — As the nation pauses this Veteran’s Day to remember those who have fought in our country’s name, FamilySearch marks the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War by helping families piece together the stories of courage and sacrifice of veterans hidden from their family’s history. Two new online collections received from the National Archives and Records Administration account for all known casualties in the Southeast Asian combat zone during the Vietnam War era and beyond. Search these and over 100 free military collections brought together for Veteran’s Day to help families more easily locate and learn about their ancestor’s military service at FamilySearch.org/honorvets.

The US military sustained over 58,000 casualties in the Southeast Asian combat zone out of the roughly 8 million Americans who served there between 1956 and 1975. Those casualties include not only war dead but prisoners of war, soldiers missing in action, and soldiers with wounds severe enough to warrant being sent home (repatriated). Families can find records for each soldier counted as a casualty during this time in either or both of the collections maintained by FamilySearch.

Since both of the Vietnam records collections were taken from essentially the same original sources, researchers will most likely find the names they are seeking in both collections. But they should check both because additional details may be found on one or the other. In each collection you will find a link titled “Find More.” It will link to more sources and helps about Vietnam research on the Church Wiki.

The United States Casualties of the Vietnam War, 1956-1998 collection) was originally comprised of two files: the Combat Area Casualties Current File, 6/8/1956-1/21/1998 and the Combat Area Casualties Returned Alive File, 5/1/1962-3/22/1979. The first contains information on war dead, prisoners of war, and soldiers missing in action, while the second accounts for military personnel wounded and repatriated immediately before, during, and after the conflict. The collection as a whole includes approximately 58,959 records. The United States Military Personnel Who Died During the Vietnam War, 1956-2003 collection (counts for fatalities suffered in the Southeast Asian combat zone and includes approximately 58,230 records.

Records in the collections include names; dates of death or repatriation; military information such as branch of service, rank, and tour of duty; birth date; home residence; marital and citizenship status; and other facts. One record tells when the person entered the service and when that person died. John Foster Johnson is an example of the tragedy of this war. He was born in December 1945, and he entered the service when he was 23 years old on January 4, 1968. This young man never married, had been a member of the Baptist Church, and was killed on 10 March 1968, just a little more than two months after he entered boot camp. This experience was repeated thousands of times for families who lost their young sons, their brothers, and their friends. In this record is also found information about those missing in action who never returned home. These records can be used for further research into a deceased family member’s military career and civilian life before, during, and sometimes after the war, if they survived to go home and die there.

Regardless of the diverse opinions of the war, and the politics surrounding it, many families still seek a better understanding of those now deceased ancestors and relatives who fought. In a recent blog post, FamilySearch collection manager Ken Nelson noted, that “Those of us who grew up then remember hearing the casualties reported each night on the news…. It became a part of our lives back then and in many ways is still with us today.” FamilySearch hopes that the growing military record collections can help piece together the stories of those who sacrificed so much during times of conflict and provide a fuller picture of the lives of veterans who served to their descendants.

About FamilySearch
FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The American Battle Monuments Commission Website

Having served in the U.S. Army, I’m always checking to see if any of my former “Battle Buddies” have lost their lives. This has led me to look for the names and records of soldiers lost in other conflicts. The American Battle Monuments website is one of the better sites.

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Established by Congress in 1923, the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) commemorates the service, achievements, and sacrifice of U.S. armed forces. ABMC manages 24 overseas military cemeteries, and 26 memorials, monuments, and markers. Nearly all the cemeteries and memorials specifically honor those who served in World War I or World War II.

The sacrifice of more than 218,000 U.S. servicemen and women is memorialized at these locations. Nearly 125,000 American war dead are buried at ABMC cemeteries, with an additional 94,000 individuals commemorated on Tablets of the Missing.

Visit their Website to learn more.

Records are easily available – simply search by: War, Soldiers Name, Cemetery, State of Origin, or Unit

ABMC maintains several databases, including:

  • Those interred at the American World War I and World War II cemeteries overseas.
  • The missing in action from World War I and World War II who are memorialized on Tablets of the Missing within the cemeteries and on three memorials in the United States.
  • Those killed worldwide during the Korean War.
  • War dead and veterans of the Mexican War, Civil War and Spanish-American War who are buried at the ABMC cemeteries in Corozal, Panama and Mexico City.
  • The missing in action of the Vietnam War memorialized at the Honolulu Memorial.
  • All interments at Corozal American Cemetery, including civilians who built and operated the Panama Canal.

Here are two exampels of what you may find

World War II

Ernest H. Anderson
Captain, U.S. Army Air Forces
Service # O-725397
772nd Bomber Squadron, 463rd Bomber Group, Heavy
Entered the Service from: Washington
Died: 19-Mar-44
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Florence American Cemetery
Florence, Italy
Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart

Korean War

Paul Harris
Unknown City, Alaska
Born 1920
Sergeant, U.S. Army
Service Number 39950756
Died while Prisoner of War
Died February 4, 1951 in Korea
Sergeant Harris was a member of the 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. He was taken Prisoner of War while fighting the enemy in Korea on November 26, 1950 and died while a prisoner on February 4, 1951. Sergeant Harris was awarded the Prisoner of War Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal.

Visit their Website to learn more.

Written by Dale R. Meitzler

Google is Mapping Arlington National Cemetery

Google is about to post a walk-through of Arlington National Cemetery. Although some headstones photographed with the walk-through might not be as clear and readable as others, it is said that many will for more legible than those currently posted at the Cemetery website (not bad in itself!), as the photography is being done in very high resolution. The site is scheduled to be live in May of 2014, in time for the 150th Anniversary of the Cemetery.

The following excerpt is from an article by Cecelia Kang, published in the October 20, 2013 edition of the Washington Post:
Arlington-Walk-Through-350PW

The walk through Arlington National Cemetery on a beautiful October day was being captured by Google for anyone to experience with a few keystrokes or the swipe of a smartphone screen.

Google on Sunday began its project to map the cemetery by collecting millions of photos and stitching them together to re-
create the feeling of strolling the iconic burial ground of presidents and soldiers.

Online users will be able to zoom in close enough to read some grave markers. Or zoom out for panoramas of rolling hills dotted with thousands of white headstones. Or experience a 360-degree view of the resting place of America’s service members.

Read the full article.

Visit the offical website of Arlington National Cemetery and check out the 400,000 fully indexed and searchable headstones on the site.

Remembering Our Veterans: FamilySearch Adds New Indexed Record Collections from WWII, Korean War, & Vietnam War

The following is from FamilySearch August 6, 2013:
FamilySearch.org
FamilySearch has recently added more than 43.6 million indexed records and images from BillionGraves, Italy, and the United States. Notable collection updates include the 10 new indexed war records collections, including: the United States, World War II Prisoners of War of the Japanese, 1941-1945, collection, the United States, Korean War Battle Deaths, 1950-1957, collection, and the United States, Casualties of the Vietnam War, 1956-1998, collection . See the table below for the full list of updates. Search these diverse collections and more than 3.5 billion other records for free at FamilySearch.org.

Searchable historic records are made available on FamilySearch.org through the help of thousands of volunteers from around the world. These volunteers transcribe (index) information from digital copies of handwritten records to make them easily searchable online. More volunteers are needed (particularly those who can read foreign languages) to keep pace with the large number of digital images being published online at FamilySearch.org. Learn more about volunteering to help provide free access to the world’s historic genealogical records online at FamilySearch.org.

FamilySearch is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources for free at FamilySearch.org or through more than 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Collection – Indexed Records – Digital Images – Comments

BillionGraves Index – 393,089 – 393,089 – Added index records and images to an existing collection.

Italy, Cuneo, Saluzzo, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1866-1942 – 0 – 623,212 – Added images to an existing collection.

Italy, Pola and Trieste, Catholic Church Records, 1593-1941 – 0 – 13,143 – New browsable image collection.

U.S., Massachusetts, Boston Passenger Lists, 1820-1891 – 461,040 – 0 – Added index records to an existing collection.

United States, American Prisoners of War During the Korean War, 1950-1953 – 4,714 – 0 – New indexed record collection.

United States, Casualties of Army Personnel, Dependents and Civilian Employees, 1961-1981 – 70,010 – 0 – New indexed record collection.

United States, Casualties of the Vietnam War, 1956-1998 – 58,965 – 0 – New indexed record collection.

United States, Index to the Gorgas Hospital Mortuary Registers, 1906-1991 – 26,212 – 0 – New indexed record collection.

United States, Japanese Americans Relocated During World War II, 1942-1946 – 109,368 – 0 – New indexed record collection.

United States, Korean War Battle Deaths, 1950-1957 – 33,642 – 0 – New indexed record collection.

United States, Korean War Dead and Army Wounded, 1950-1953 – 109,961 – 0 – New indexed record collection.

United States, Korean War Repatriated Prisoners of War, 1950-1954 – 4,447 – 0 – New indexed record collection.

United States, Military Personnel who Died During the Vietnam War, 1956-2003 – 58,230 – 0 – New indexed record collection.

United States, Public Records Index – 41,290,300 – 0 – Added index records to an existing collection.

United States, World War II Prisoners of War of the Japanese, 1941-1945 – 29,879 – 0 – New indexed record collection.

A Review of “Hey, America, Your Roots are Showing“


Several weeks ago, my friend, Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, sent me a copy of her new book. It’s titled “Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing.” I finally got the chance to sit down and read it cover to cover. Megan knows how to write, with several successful books behind her. However, in my humble opinion, this time she’s outdone herself. The book is brilliant – and should be required reading for any genealogist that wishes to sharpen their skills. I’ve been reading and editing genealogy books and articles as a profession for 30 years. This is without a doubt the best genealogy book I’ve ever read.

In full disclosure, I’ve known Megan for many years, and she’s a friend. However, she’s also arguably one of the very best genealogists in the country, if not on planet Earth. Megan can find the living as well as the dead – and she has the skills to do it quickly. This 288-page book is made up of first-hand accounts about how Megan has gone about doing the research that has made her famous. She has been on more network television talk shows and genealogy-related programs than any of the other genealogists that I know. Sure – this came about principally because of celebrity research, but there were many hours of sleuthing required before the 15 minutes of fame in a network studio.

The book covers a wide variety of topics, as Megan has been involved in many types of genealogical quests. Each of the chapters tells a story. She details the story well enough that any of us can come away with research ideas we may never have considered before. There’s a lot to be learned here.

The Foreword is written by Henry Louis Gates, Jr – and Ken Burns added this note to the back cover, “Megan Smolenyak2 decodes our fascinating complicated past, in this tour de force of detective work.” Wow! Ken Burns on the back cover! Now that’s something to be proud of.

Following is a list of the chapters:
Foreword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Introduction: Rewriting History
1. No Man Left Behind (for real)
A decade of forensic consulting for the Army
2. Famous Cousins
Barak Obama and Sarah Palin are related – “Yawn”
3. Serial Centenarians
Could two relatives who knew each other live in four centuries?
4. Alex Hailey Was Scottish?
Uncovering the unexpected heritage of Roots author, Alex Hailey, through DNA
5. Egyptian Roots in a Hurry
Researching Hota Kotb’s roots for the Today show on a fierce deadline.
6. A House Divided, A Bible Shared
The strange travels of a Civil War-era Bible.
7. There’s No One as Irish as Barack Obama
Tracing his roots to the Auld Sod.
8. Unclaimed Persons
Why you should call your estranged brother.
9. Adventures in TV Land
You need what by when?
10. Finding Melvina, Michelle Obama’s Great, Great, Great Grandmother
How do you trace a slave girl in South Carolina?
11. The Road to the First Lady’s Roots
Road-tripping to discover all that’s not online about Michelle Obama’s heritage.
12. King of America
Who would rule America today if George Washington had been king?
13. Skeletons in the Turret
Could DNA reveal the identity of the men of the USS Monitor?
14. Anatomy of an Adoption Search
Helping adoptees discover who they are.
15. The Slave Who Rescued Freedom
Rediscovering Phillip Reed, without whom the capital would look very different.
16. No, Your Name Wasn’t Changed at Ellis Island
Why you shouldn’t fall for this popular myth.
17. Paralyzed Prostitute
Following the trail of an Oregon madam.
18. Half a Negro Boy
Finding a hidden connection between Al Sharpton and Strom Thurmond.
19. A Lonely Tombstone on the Sidewalks of Manhattan
The wandering memorial of a Jewish pioneer goes home.
20. Grandma Stepped Out
My accidental genetic discovery.
21. They Call Me Yak-Yak
What I learned from helping the FBI with civil rights cold cases.
22. Annie Moore, Ellis Island’s First
Rectifying a case of historical identity theft.

Acknowledgements
Index

To purchase a copy of Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing, click here. $15.63.

National Archives Dedicates the New National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis & Makes 3 New Videos Available

The formal dedication of the new National Personnel Records Center took place this last Saturday, October 15, 2011. To celebrate the dedication, the Archives made up three videos that take us behind the scenes. These National Archives’ produced videos are available on the National Archives YouTube Channel, and are copyright free, so we’re posting the descriptions and links to all three videos right here on GenealogyBlog.com. Enjoy!

Did you know that the archival reconstruction and preservation of records burned in the 1973 Personnel Records Center fire still continues and will for many years to come? Learn more about these efforts in second and third videos below.


Veterans Personnel Records at the National Archives, St. Louis (Runs 3:43)


This video illustrates the primary purpose of NPRC – to preserve the nation’s military personnel files in perpetuity and to make them available to veterans and other interested parties. Air Force veteran and NPRC archives technician Bruce Bronsema – using his own personnel file – demonstrates how veterans can request copies of their records with a simple on-line application (available at www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records). NPRC receives 4,000 to 5,000 requests each day for military personnel records and according to NPRC director Scott Levins, responds to 90 percent of those requests within ten days. Levins leads viewers through the process from beginning to end, showing where the records are stored, how they are retrieved and copied and then mailed to requestors. Click on the Illustration to view the video here or click here to view the video at YouTube.


Preservation Lab at the National Archives, St. Louis (Runs 3:18)


Go behind-the-scenes to see NPRC’s new state-of-the-art preservation lab. In 1973 a fire in NPRC’s former building destroyed 18 million military personnel files. Six million more were recovered with varying degrees of fire and water damage. As individual files are requested, preservation technicians painstakingly treat the documents for damage and mold. Preservation officer Marta O’Neill and her staff demonstrate the arduous work required to preserve these permanent records of the United States. The preservation lab also treats archival microfilm, an extensive process shown in the video. In the digital section of the preservation lab, military personnel files of “Persons of Exceptional Prominence” are scanned and the images transferred to CDs. In this manner frequently-requested records are removed from circulation and preserved, even as their contents are made available to the public. And in a startling display of digital technology, viewers see how text seemingly lost to fire damage can be restored to legibility. Click on the Illustration to view the video here or click here to view the video at YouTube.


Public Research Room at the National Archives, St. Louis (Runs 2:49)


The new NPRC building features a research room open to the general public. This video provides a tour of the room and the resources available to genealogists, historians and anyone with an interest in researching archival military personnel records. Among those featured in the video are a couple searching for information on a long-deceased half-brother; a military historian looking at the use of the death penalty during World War II; NPRC’s two archives specialists – Susan Nash and Donna Noelken — who together have more than 60 years experience with the holdings and whose full-time job is to assist the public. As research room manager Whitney Mahar says, “We are the public face of the Archives in St. Louis.” Click on the Illustration to view the video here or click here to view the video at YouTube.

Photos to be Added to the Vietnam Memorial

The following excerpt is from a Washington State newspaper, so it’s directed at Washington State residents. However, the project will be of interest to anyone with a picture of a U.S. serviceman killed in the Vietnam conflict, no matter where they may live.

OLYMPIA – If you have a photo of Air Force Col. Gallileo Bossio, of Deer Park, of Marine Pvt. 1st Class Rocky Hanna, of Addy, of Army Pvt. 1st Class Melvin East, of Colfax, or of Navy Lt. Cmdr. Edwin Koenig, of Spokane, veterans officials from both Washingtons would like to hear from you.

The same goes for photos of nearly 600 other Washington state service members killed in Vietnam, about half of all the state’s fatal casualties from that war.

Their names are on two walls, the state memorial on the Capitol campus and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

A new project planned as a feature for the National Mall is trying to locate a photo to go with each of the 58,272 men and women on the wall to be part of an Education Center near the memorial.

The photos will form a “virtual wall” inside the center where the display will change every day, Jan Scruggs, president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation, said Friday in Olympia. Visitors will be given a dog tag when they enter the center, told behind every name on the wall is a face and a story, have a chance to trace the activities of the person named in the tag, then be asked to return to their community and “do something positive,” he said.

“It’s a legacy for the casualties of a different era,” Scruggs said. “The world of fighting wars seems to never end.”

National officials have about 22,000 photos so far. When they contacted the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs, they found out the state had a head start. Director John Lee said the department already was trying to collect at least one photo of all 1,049 service members from Washington who died for the state archives.

Read the full article in the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

Footnote.com Announces New Focus on Historical U.S. Military Records & Changes Name to Fold3

Footnote.com has long been one of my favorite websites. I’ve had a personal subscription for years, and plan to keep it for a long time. The site is reasonably priced, and the data is etrememely valuable for any genealogist with American roots. The decision has now been made to change their name to Fold3. I kinda’ like it. The emphasis of the website will be on United States Military records. This makes sense, as the site is already the premier place to look for U.S. Military data online – and it will set the site apart somewhat from Ancestry.com, it’s parent company.

The following news release was received from Heather Erickson at Ancestry.com:

New Brand will Honor and Remember those who have Served

LINDON, UTAH — (August 18, 2011)Footnote.com, a premier destination for discovering family history records, today announced it will now focus primarily on offering the finest and most comprehensive collection of U.S. Military records available on the internet. The site gathers the most valuable U.S. military records, photos and stories to help family historians and others discover and share the memories of those who served.

As part of this new focus, the name of the site will change from Footnote to Fold3. The Fold3 name is derived from the third fold in a traditional military flag folding ceremony which “is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks who gave a portion of his or her life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.”

Fold3 is the web’s premier collection and destination for original U.S. military records, helping people find and share more than 74 million images of historical documents and photos. These records include valuable collections from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, World Wars I and II and America’s more recent engagements in Vietnam and elsewhere. Specializing in digitization of paper, microfilm and microfiche collections, Fold3 brings many never-before-seen historic documents to the web through patented processes and unique partnerships with The National Archives and other institutions. This combination of innovative technology and access to strategic partners provides subscribers with an easy way to search original documents and discover stories about the people, places and events in the conflicts that shaped America and the world.

“We have already begun expanding Fold3’s robust military collection to include new pension application files and draft cards,” said Brian Hansen, General Manager of Fold3. “It’s truly gratifying to help researchers easily discover at home what they previously could find only by traveling to an archive.”

Fold3’s significant collections illuminate history that was once hidden. For example, Fold3’s World War II photos, Missing Air Crew Reports and JAG case files include detailed information about the ordeal of Louis Zamperini, subject of the New York Times Best Seller, Unbroken. Similar stories about millions of service men and women lie undiscovered within the records available on Fold3.

Fold3 will continue to operate as a subsidiary of Ancestry.com, the world’s largest online family history resource, which acquired Fold3 as part of its purchase of iArchives in 2010. In addition to connecting more closely to its military collection, the rebranding helps distinguish Fold3’s value as a highly complementary brand to Ancestry.com. Many family historians and genealogists may use Ancestry.com to find an ancestor who served in the military and then use Fold3 to discover the details of their service.

To begin searching for your family’s military history, go to www.fold3.com.

About Fold3
Fold3 offers the web’s premier collection of original military records, gathering the best U.S. military records, photos and stories to help customers discover and share the stories of those who served. With more than 74 million historical record images already online and more being added every day, Fold3.com brings the details of America’s military service to life.

I am proud to say that Genealogyblog.com has an affiliate relationship with Fold3.com.

Thieves Make Off With Priceless War Memorial Plaques

I’m afraid this is the kind of story that makes my blood boil. Memorial plaques with names of deceased veterans were stolen, probably with the object of selling them for scrap. The plaques held many names, and at this point it looks like it isn’t known what all those names were. I’m hoping that someone photographed the plaques at some point and can come forward with them, or better yet, that the thieves are caught and the plaques returned. Following is a teaser from the January 7, 2011 edition of the Mail Online.

Denuded War Memorial

Police are investigating the theft of eight bronze plaques from a foreign war memorial in Maryland that stood proudly for decades as a tribute to the bravery of its troops.

Thieves have not only stolen the memorial plaques but the only official list of all the veterans who died that belonged to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6919 in Morningside [Maryland].

‘It’s hearbreaking to have this happen to us’, Post Commander and Vietnam veteran James Holland said. ‘I’m angry because it happened. Not knowing if we’re going to get them back. So the anger just builds up. More and more and more.’

Five plaques weighing 120 pounds each were taken. They listed the names of the deceased veterans who belonged to the Post dating back to World War I.

Three other plaques had the faces and the names of soldiers from the Post etched on to them.
Remaining now are just empty concrete slabs which had previously held the plaques.

Read the full article.

West Virginia Officials Searching for Info on People Named on the West Virginia Veterans Memorial

State archives and history officials are attempting to come up with details about the veterans whose 11,427 names are West Virginia Veterans Memorial carved in the West Virginia Veterans Memorial at the State Capitol in Charleston, West Virginia.

For the last five years, the West Virginia Division of Culture and History has been gathering information for use in online biographies of all 11,427 veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War whose names are carved on the memorial. Thus far, they have only have completed 47 biographies, with three more on the way. That doesn’t sound like much, does it? I think they need our help!

It’s said that the work has been delayed because of an project to restore the memorial, as it was damaged in an automobile accident. Repairs include the re-carving of faded and missing veterans’ names.

For more information, see the AP article in WHSV.com.

See the Database, and search for your West Virginia 20th-Century Veterans..

If you have additional information about the veterans listed on the Memorial or if you know of any West Virginia veterans killed or missing in action whose names do not appear on the wall, please contact Terry Lowry, Archives and History, (304) 558-0230.