How To

HOW TO START YOUR SEARCH FOR A LOST LOVED ONE FROM WWII – we are here to help you feel free to contact us at any time.    Keep in mind that the search is often long and frustrating.

How to start your search for your missing loved on from WWII(Keep a diary/records:  Begin keeping a log file of all research, correspondence and dates associated with your search.   This will be essential for any future political actions):

Start here:   You will want to do a basic search through one or all of these sites :

American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) to obtain service members home town and service number their website is    This website will take you to a database of casualties either buried in ABMC cemeteries world-wide or listed on the walls of the missing.   If the service member is buried in a National Cemetery, the VA should have the soldier’s name in their database. 

For a nationwide gravesite locator you will want to go to this database:

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA):   NARA has several useful dated bases and can be accessed at:    For enlisted records the links is:…cat=WR26&bc=sl

  •          WWII Army Enlistment Records, 1938–46
  •          Records of WWII Prisoners of War, 12/7/1941 – 11/19/1946
  •          WWII Prisoners of the Japanese Data Files, 1941-45
  •          Records About Japanese Americans Relocated During WWII, 1942-46
  •          Records of Duty Locations for Naval Intelligence Personnel, 1942-45

Ancestry: has several databases and is a useful tool as well for records and tracking down family   You can find this information at:

Step 1:   You will want to register with your Service Casualty Office (SCO) – find contact information under our links page:

Fill out a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) form with your service casualty office.   Your letter or phone call to them should include that you are willing to pay the Freedom of Information Act fees for the report.   You will need to request  your relative’s IDPF(Individual Deceased Personnel File), most times you will not be charged for these.   But they cannot do any work to locate the records without this statement from you.   This is the Key starting point of your search – many times the IDPF will have the clues to where you want to look next for records and often times takes a very long time to receive.

Depending what is in the IDPF files you will want to order under FOIA other reports such as:

  •          IDPF Files of other crewmembers                   
  •          Morning Reports
  •          MACR (Missing Air Crew Reports)                 
  •          Unit Histories
  •          BuNo reports (Navy and Marine)
  • Form 5 (Flight Records) for US Army Air Forces Pilots


Step 3:   Looking for answers:

  •          Contact relatives for information about the missing loved one – likely other family members have memories, files records about the individual
  •          Identify/research at local historic offices or organizations.  Often (for small towns) historical societies have copies of old newspapers  for death notices, or even members with memories of WWII or happenings of the town.
  •          Any High School, Colleges, or other schools they attended may have yearbooks available with the missing members pictures.
  •          Join Alumni Boards from the unit the service member joined
  •          Locate other family members that have a missing service member that  served with your missing service member to correlate records and cross reference records
  •          Put a post on forum boards seeking information such as
  •          Connect with researchers that are experts in the area of loss (We can help you with that)
  •          Begin tracking down a possible location of loss


Step 4:   Probable location:

 Once you have a probable location you are going to have to do several things:

  •          Make contact with local researcher to check the location or work jointly with your established researcher to see how you can get someone to look in the area and interview eyewitnesses
  •          Document any findings with as much detail as possible (you will need this to further your search and ask for a recovery)
  •          May contact other Governments to ask if they could look in the area or if they have any records from WWII for the area.



Step 5:  If location is found for loved one

You will need to notify your Service Casualty Officer, DPMO (Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office and JPAC (Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command) and give the following information

  •    Name of Service member
  •    Area of loss
  •    Documentation to prove that your loved one is possibly at that location
  •    All witness interviews
  •    All supporting documents and pictures

Step 6:   In the event your case has political action requirements

Identify your State Senator and your State Congressperson

  •    You will need to contact their office
  •    You will also need to write a letter


Other things that are important and should not be overlooked:

Does the missing service member have a (memorial) grave?  If not, family can request one, you may request one through your local VA or Arlington National Cemetery – remember  to verify all information that is intended  to be carved into the stone is accurate, (i.e. – actual date of death vs. administrative date of death)

Always accept advice and help from others and thank them, remember to credit those who help you.

Consider Making a small charitable donation to organizations that aid you “in memory” of the casualty or donate to your favorite Charity with a request to place in Memory of your loved one as a tribute.