Expert answers on researching your relative's Korean War service.
Q. How can I find Korean War service records?
Unfortunately, records of Korean War veterans were among those affected by the 1973 fire at the National Archives’ National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, which destroyed 80 percent of Army records for those discharged Nov. 1, 1912, to Jan. 1, 1960, and 75 percent of Air Force records for those discharged Sept. 25, 1947, to Jan. 1, 1964 (with names alphabetically after Hubbard, James E.). Next of kin can order surviving records if the veteran is deceased at Archives.gov
If your ancestor was a casualty of the Korean War, look for him or her among the National Archives series
and the state-by-state listings
(in PDF format and sorted alphabetically by last name). The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC)
also has a database of Korean war casualties and MIAs, which unlike most ABMC records, goes beyond those buried on foreign soil. Overall, it contains 39,000 service casualties and 8,196 missing, out of a total of 54,246 American military lives lost in the Korean War. The gaps in both the ABMC and National Archives’ numbers are attributable to the 1973 fire. Search for Korean War veterans held as prisoners of war at Archives.gov
Order draft records, which weren’t destroyed in the fire, from the NPRC. Contact the center for details: (314) 801-0800, MPR.firstname.lastname@example.org, or National Personnel Records Center, 9700 Page Ave., St. Louis, MO 63132.
Note that surviving military records are considered archival and are opened to the public 62 years after the person’s separation from the military. This means records with a discharge date of 1952 or prior are archival, and Korean War records will soon be open to the public, not just immediate relatives. NARA lists links to other Korean War resources online
From the July/August 2014 Family Tree Magazine