Hampton Roads Naval Museum Educator
|Your family military records may yield interesting results.|
If your family member is still alive they should be your first point of contact. Many parents and grandparents that served in the armed forces would be more than happy to share their treasured stories with you, and would likely have much more to tell than a written record could ever provide you. The search gets a bit trickier if your family member has passed away, but it is not unobtainable. Your first action should be to locate some proof of death since in order to request a loved one’s records you must prove they are no longer living. Good examples are an obituary in your local newspaper or a death certificate from a funeral home (if available).
|USN Signal School, Norfolk, Virginia, 1918|
You should generally be able to find your family member's records from the link above if they left the service between 1912 and 1953. For earlier records there is a separate link here:
You may be able to find your family member's records back to the Revolutionary War based on pension requests. Be forewarned though, there was a fire at the National Archives building in 1973 that destroyed a great number of service records. You may hit a dead end, but again fear not, as we offer another avenue of approach.
|Basic Training photograph of author's grandfather, Ft. Lewis, Washington, circa 1950.|
Once you have obtained your family member's service records and know what ship they served on, you can use the internet to your advantage. The U.S. Navy has uploaded brief records of many ships to Wikipedia and also has the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships online at the Naval History and Heritage Command’s website (www.history.navy.mil). You may also try sites such as NavSource (www.navsource.org) for photographs of the ship and links to organizations that represent them. Feel free to visit the Hampton Roads Naval Museum with your new information and we would be pleased to assist you in obtaining additional information. Happy hunting!