Locate former military personnel
Inclusion of an organization or product in the following text does not denote that it carries an American Embassy, Reykjavik, U.S. Government, or U.S. Department of Defense endorsement. Please note, also, that this information is intended for those making inquiries from Iceland.
It is difficult to trace someone in the United States when their whereabouts are completely unknown, as there are no central records of names and addresses available to the public. For those trying to locate former colleagues, friends or relations the following information may be of assistance. When writing to an agency or organization listed below, you should provide as much information as possible about the person you seek. At least the full name, date and place of birth should be given. For military personnel, the rank, serial number (or Social Security Number), branch of service and duty history (i.e. dates and places where assigned) should also be specified.
Active Military Personnel
Written requests for assistance in locating information on currently serving military personnel may be sent to the appropriate office listed below.
All of the above locator services operate websites on the internet, usually accessed via links with the Department of Defense Defenselink web site, or relevant service's homepage. To receive information on a particular locator service, you may utilize a computer search engine with, for example, the search term "US Navy worldwide locator."
Air Force Worldwide Locator
550 C Street W., Suite 50
Randolph Air Force Base
Telephone Number: (001) (210) 565-2660
Hours of Operation: Monday - Friday 0730 to 1630 (CST)
Army Worldwide Locator
U.S. Army ELREC
8899 E. 56th Street
Fort Benjamin Harrison, IN 46249-5301
Telephone Number: (001) (866) 771-6357
Navy Worldwide Locator
Bureau of Naval Personnel
5720 Integrity Drive
Millington, TN 38055-3120
Telephone Number: (001) (901) 874-3388
Marine Corps Worldwide Locator
Headquarters US Marine Corps
2008 Elliot Road
Quantico, VA 22134-5030
Telephone Number: (001) (703) 784-3942 or 3943
Coast Guard Locator
Commander, Personnel Command
CGPC (adm-3) - MS 7200
US Coast Guard
4200 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 20598-7200
Washington, DC 20593
The above locator offices may be able to forward correspondence to the individual's base or unit. Correspondence for the missing service member should be passed - together with a brief letter of explanation - to the appropriate service locator. The letter that you want forwarded to the service member should contain nothing of value and be in an unsealed, stamped envelope bearing only the individual's rank, and full name. You should note that a nominal fee, payable by credit card or International Money order, may be charged for this service.
Former Military Personnel
The American Embassy, Reykjavik keeps no records of former members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
All official military personnel files of discharged or deceased personnel are maintained in the United States at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC). Requests for information on former service members must be directed, in writing, to that agency. Written requests for record searches must be made on the Standard Form SF180 (available to download from the NPRC website). Alternatively, the form will be mailed to you. When completing the form, you should provide the full name, details of military service, and the former service member's serial (or social security) number, if known. Please note that certain restrictions imposed on the NPRC by the 1974 Privacy Act may make your search more difficult. The Act limits the disclosure of data from U.S. government files to the individual themselves or to those who can provide clear evidence of direct kinship to the individual being sought. In the case of children trying to locate their fathers, the NPRC is required to provide only the last known town and state - ie, not a full street address. In all instances only written requests, signed and dated, on the appropriate forms will be accepted. The address of the NPRC is:
National Personnel Records Center (NPRC)
Attn: Military Personnel Records
9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63132-5100
Please note that addresses on record are often those furnished by the service member at the time of discharge and may well be some years out-of-date. You should note also that the NPRC is staffed and funded to deal primarily with queries from veterans themselves, and these queries receive priority. It is not unusual for general inquiries from abroad to take many weeks or even months to receive a response.
U.S. citizens wishing to re-establish contact with or information on former service friends mainly use military and veterans organizations' publications. A brief notice placed therein reaches a wide audience and may well come to the attention of the individual themselves or a former member of the same unit. As well as the newsletters of individual veterans associations, letters are published in the following large-circulation publications and web sites:
Army/Navy/Air Force Times
6883 Commercial Drive
Springfield, VA 22159-0160
Air Force Magazine
1501 Lee Highway
Arlington, VA 22209-1198
American Legion Magazine
700 N. Pennsylvania Street
PO Box 1055
Indianapolis, IN 46206
The Retired Officer Magazine
201 N. Washington Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22314-2539
Letters written to the above publications should be brief and preferably typed. Do not send documents or photographs.
Additional Sources: Local Sources
If the original address of the individual being sought is known, you can pursue local sources of information within the United States. Among the many possible avenues are: offices of vital records for birth, death or marriage records; high school reunion organizers and college alumni associations; Adjutant General's Office in the person's home state for data on personnel who served in World War II, Korea, or Vietnam; county and state Department of Veterans' Affairs Offices in cases of Veterans' benefits or hospitalization; local posts of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, AmVets, etc for information on local veterans; county Probate Offices for a will or Letters of Administration if he or she possessed property in the county and is now deceased; local newspapers, for articles obituaries, death notices, etc; state Offices of Vital Statistics for death records of service personnel who died while on active duty. Please note that the American Embassy, Reykjavik, does not maintain addresses for the above offices.
Private detectives and tracing agencies in the U.S. can also assist, but they are often expensive.
The quickest and cheapest way of establishing contact with an individual is often by telephone. Some public reference libraries now hold U.S. telephone directories on CD-ROM and there are many internet websites providing access to phone listings. A number of these are to be found on Yahoo! However, it is worth remembering that many private individuals in the U.S. choose unlisted telephone numbers.
Books & Newspapers
How to Locate Anyone Who Is or Has Been In The Military, 5th Edition by Lt Col (Ret) Richard Johnson, (MIE Publishing, 228 Hillsboro Terrace, Spartanburg, SC, 29301, Telephone (001) (864) 595-0981 details hundreds of ways to locate current and former service members of all branches, including National Guard and Reserve. It explains how to obtain copies of individual service records, rosters, muster rolls, after-action reports, and numerous other military records. Please note that Lt Col Johnson also runs a commercial detective agency specializing in the tracing of former members of the military.
It may also be worthwhile writing to newspapers or specialist publications which circulate in the area where the missing person was last known to live.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Through its Family History Resources the Church offers advice to those undertaking family history research. There are over 2,400 Family History Centers worldwide. Most are located in meetinghouses of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here you can find census returns, wills, church records, etc. for most parts of the world. In addition, you can consult the International Genealogical Index (IGI) and the Ancestral File. The IGI is a worldwide index of approximately 187 million names of deceased persons. Searches can also be made on-line through the Familysearch.com website. The Index does not contain records of living persons. The Ancestral File contains genealogical data on millions of individuals from many countries, including information on names, dates and places of birth, marriage and death. Most of the information on the File concerns deceased persons. The File also contains names and addresses of persons who have submitted information, and this information is up-dated periodically.
Social Security Administration & The Department of Veterans Affairs
Both the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs will attempt to forward correspondence to missing persons, but only when a considerable monetary or strong humanitarian consideration is involved. You should send a letter intended for the missing person, along with a brief letter of explanation to the appropriate agency. The letter to be forwarded should contain nothing of value and be in a plain, unsealed, unstamped envelope bearing only the person's full name and social security/ military serial number. If this number is not known, you should include other identifying information, such as date/ place of birth or parents' names in the covering letter. Write to:
Social Security Administration
30 North Green Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420
In the case of the Social Security Administration (SSA), a $3 fee applies in cases involving a monetary purpose. An International Money Order in dollars should be enclosed and made payable to the 'Social Security Administration'. The SSA will be unable to report whether or not the letter is actually delivered.
In addition to the internet locator services listed above, many hundreds of sites - official and unofficial, commercial and free of charge - exist to aid in tracing missing persons and family genealogy. Such sites include: the National Vet Archive; American Veteran Search; the Navy Memorial Foundation's Navy Log; American Legion Library page; Military Police Locator Service, and many others. Keyword searches on military and locator or military and reunions will lead to dozens of sites, many with links to other avenues of research.
NB: Important Notice - It is not possible to trace the whereabouts of persons through U.S. immigration channels. Records of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service are protected by the Privacy Act and cannot be divulged to third parties.
We hope that success results from your efforts. Unfortunately, other than the preceding information, the Embassy, Reykjavik cannot assist further with individual searches for current or former members of the military.
Further information can also be found here.