From How can I get all the military records available through NARA (USA) for an individual veteran? (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).

  • 1
    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
    Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 16:12
  • For what it's worth, when we requested my grandfather's records (USMC), I think we only supplied the SSN and maybe approximate years of service, but certainly not exact dates.
    – Jack
    Commented Jan 6, 2019 at 0:40

2 Answers 2


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.


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.

In July 2015, Ancestry added a new database, U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. Their section About U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 does not say so explicitly, but the URLs of search results suggest that this data comes from the Social Security Administrations Numident records.

The Social Security Administration describes the Numident printout as follows:

A Numident is a query display of the information taken from an individual's application for an original SSN card and subsequent applications for replacement SSN cards.

Ancestry's database description discusses the limitations of this database.

It is not an index to all deceased individuals who have held Social Security Numbers. It is not a database of all deceased individuals who have received Social Security Benefits, or whose families have received survivor benefits. Also, persons whose deaths were reported by the states rather than other institutions may not be included. This database contains basic information about people with Social Security numbers whose deaths have been reported to the Social Security Administration or who would be more than 110 years of age if still living.

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