Finding Aids: Reference Information Paper 90 Part VII

Reference Information Paper 90

A Finding Aid to Records Relating to American Prisoners of War and Missing in Action from the Vietnam War Era, 1960-1994

Table of Contents

Part VII: Military Personnel Records and Veterans Administration Claims Files

[For more information about the records described in Part VII, see the National Military Personnel Records Center.]

VII.1 This section describes four types of records: 1) inactive military personnel records retired to the National Personnel Records Center; 2) personnel records retained by the services; 3) inactive Veterans Administration (VA) claims files retired to the Federal Records Centers; and 4) active VA claims files maintained in regional VA offices. Many of the records described in this section may be exempt from the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act because they contain information that relates to national security or information that if disclosed would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

Military Personnel Records (inactive)

    VII.2 The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, MO, is the repository for all non-current Federal Government personnel records including those of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard. The NPRC also has custody of a collection of Army Military Returnee files that are likely to contain POW/MIA related information. The NPRC personnel records include classified and privileged as well as releasable information. Personnel records are not releasable in their entirety except to the service member or immediate next of kin, although certain types of information found in service members' personnel files is releasable to the public.

    VII.3 The NPRC is the central repository for all modern military and naval individual "201" service records and personnel records, including the dental and medical records for the services as follows:

      a) U.S. Army officers separated after June 30, 1917, and enlisted personnel separated after October 31, 1912. (It should be noted that approximately 80 percent of the files of officers and enlisted men separated between 1912 and 1960 were destroyed in a 1973 fire, and have only partially been reconstruct- ed.)

      b) U.S. Air Force officers and enlisted personnel separated after September 25, 1947. (The 1973 fire affected some Air Force files, especially those personnel separated between 1947 and 1963 with names beginning with the letters Hu through Z.)

      c) U.S. Navy officers separated after 1902 and enlisted personnel separated after 1885.

      d) U.S. Marine Corps officers and enlisted personnel separated after 1904.

      e) U.S. Coast Guard officers separated after 1890 and enlisted personnel separated after 1914.

    VII.4 Individual personnel files, including medical and dental records, constitute a useful resource for MIA research. The personnel files may include documents relating to the following actions: enlistment, induction, and reenlistment; promotions; orders; personal and emergency information and dependents; evaluations and ratings; training and education; decorations and awards; separation, discharge, and retirement; casualty reports; and correspondence. This material may lead the researcher to further research in unit historical records and other sources. Army Military Returnee Files may include: photographs; intelligence summaries and reports (Military and Central Intelligence Agency); copy of VC/NVA propaganda documents; newspaper and magazine clippings; Return to Military Control documents; and correspondence.

    VII.5 The NPRC will honor requests for copies of documents from military personnel files in its custody, providing the requests are received from official sources or from veterans and members of their immediate families. Requests from family members are restricted to the next of kin. If the person whose records are requested is living, his written consent is required before any privacy protected documents may be supplied. Information furnished to third parties is limited to what is releasable under Freedom of Information Act guidelines. It should be noted that while the NPRC maintains physical custody of the personnel records retired to it, the records remain in the legal custody of the creating agency.

Military Personnel Records (active)

    VII.6 The records of servicemen who served in Vietnam, are officially classified as missing in action, and may or may not have been POWs, have not been retired to the NPRC. These records are maintained by the individual services as follows:

    Casualty and Memorial Affairs Operation Center
    Attn: TAPC-PED-P
    POW/MIA Affairs
    Room 984, Hoffman I
    2461 Eisenhower Ave.
    Alexandria, VA
    Casualty Affairs Office, NMPC-O6
    Naval Military Personnel Command
    Department of the Navy
    Washington, DC
    Air Force
    U.S. Air Force Military Personnel Center
    Randolph AFB, TX 78148

    Marine Corps
    Commandant of the Marine Corps
    Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps
    Washington, DC 20380

Veterans Administration Claims Files (inactive)

    VII.7 The claims of deceased veterans, known as XC-files, are physically stored in the twelve regional Federal Records Centers, although they remain in the legal custody of the Veterans Administration.

Veterans Administration Claims Files (active)

    VII.8 The claims of living veterans for benefits under veterans legislation, known as C-files, are maintained as active files in Veterans Administration offices.

Note: Compiled by Charles E. Schamel. Published by the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, 1996.

Web version prepared 1999. Additions and changes incorporated in the Web version are between brackets [] and in italics.