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From a very helpful question (or rather, one of its answers) I filled out and mailed an SF-180 requesting military information for an individual. I received word back from NARA last week that the inquiry could not be fulfilled. The main issue with my inquiry was that it lacked certain details:

  • Start/End service dates
  • Service Number
  • Social Security Number

It is a bit of a catch-22 (especially for the first two items) as the reason I am asking NARA for those records is to get this kind of information!

For the above three items, then, where else can I go to find this information so I can try to resubmit my SF-180?

The individual served in the Navy during WWII and is deceased (1899-1947).

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While not an answer, in my own experience with this, I came to appreciate the challenge faced by the loss of so many WWII service records. For many individuals, a great volume of diverse identifying data/information was lost. –  GeneJ Dec 5 '12 at 16:12

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Service Number:

See if you can find him in the U.S. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949 database at Ancestry.com. The images include the service number.

Social Security Number:

Assuming he doesn't show up in the Social Security Death Index (deaths prior to about the 1960s are rarely in the SSDI), here are two other options:

a) Photocopy of his original SS-5 (Application for Social Security). You can submit a FOIA request to the Social Security Administration to obtain a photocopy of his SS-5 for $29.

b) His death certificate. The SSN may be recorded there -- I'm not sure when SSNs started getting recorded on death certs.

Service Dates:

I don't have a good resource for this one. Perhaps if you can at least give them the Service Number and SSN, they'll forgo the dates. Or if you can even give some approximates based on other info you know about him, that might be good enough.


Check out Fold3. I don't have an active subscription there anymore, but a quick search for the name that you mentioned in your other question resulted in some hits that may be of interest to you. If you don't have a subscription, they do offer a 7-day free trial.

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Thank you for the helpful response. Regarding the Service Number I discovered the resources you spoke of and have posted a related question: genealogy.stackexchange.com/questions/2317/… –  fbrereto Nov 27 '12 at 21:23

IIRC the American Battle Monuments Commission returns the service numbers as part of their search results. If he's not listed there, The National Gravesite Locator lists gravesites of veterans. See also U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962, U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963, and the U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010 which might be pointers to other records.

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