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Family Tree Friday: Korean War-era Command Reports

by on January 14, 2011


While World War II usually dominates attention as the largest and most important U.S. war of the 20th century, let’s also consider that perennially “forgotten” conflict of the early 1950s, the Korean War.  The participation of U.S. military units in the Korean War is also well documented in Record Group 407, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1917-, particularly in the series “Army-AG Command Reports, 1949-1954″ (ARC ID 596354).  Similar to the WWII Operations Reports that I discussed in my previous post, the Command Reports include historical reports, operations journals, staff studies, and other documents produced by Army commands, staffs, and units during the Korean War era.  Of even more use, within this series there are more than 25,000 file unit items also described on ARC (a link in the “details” tab of the main series ARC description will load all of the file unit descriptions).  The records are also indexed by a folder list that is available as a database searchable by unit and as a printout that contains a more detailed listing of the available records for each unit–both forms of the folder list are available to use in the Archives II reference unit at College Park, Maryland.  An accessioned “Index to Command Reports, 1949-1954″ (ARC ID 596349) is also available.  The index consists of cards that give a brief description of the records, including the name of the unit with its administrative or geographic area, file designation (if any), type of record, and date.

If you have an ancestor who served during the Korean War, especially a U.S. Army or Air Force veteran whose personnel file may have been destroyed in the 1973 St. Louis fire, it would definitely be worth your while to search the Korean War-era Command Reports to find more detailed information about the military activities of your relative’s unit during that conflict.


Comments

Taneya Koonce January 17, 2011 at 11:50 pm

Will this information about the record group be added to the NARA wiki at http://www.ourarchives.wikispaces.net/Record+Groups?

Hal Barker – KOREAN WAR PROJECT February 24, 2011 at 12:17 pm

I recently discovered that the historian for the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command has scanned the 24th, 25th, and 7th Division files from the Korean War and had them on CD. So I filed a FOIA and JPAC tells me even when DOD scans files, the files are still NARA records under NARA custody, so JPAC cannot release the digital files under FOIA. I recently obtained the entire Marine Corps files without incident in a week, so it appears this restriction only applies to Army records from Korea. The legal theory appears to be that NARA permanently owns and controls all records copied by agencies or individuals, which seems to imply that NARA can demand them back at any time. What gives here?

Joe Scanlon March 3, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Hal, I have been in contact with the FOIA Office in JPAC to see what can be done about your request to them. Of course the records in question are open and available at our College Park research facility and would not require a FOIA request to access. NARA has the original paper copy of the records and not a digital version, but I can understand your desire to have an electronic copy and make it available on your website. Please feel free to contact me with any questions that you may have at joseph.scanlon@nara.gov or (301) 837-0583.
Joseph A. Scanlon, NARA FOIA Officer

chris March 13, 2011 at 4:21 pm

looking for father’s records was advise destroyed.He is now deceased and service korean war.hq & hq Battery 79th AAA gun bn(120mm)

Meredith D. (admin) March 14, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Hi Chris -

It is possible that your father’s records were affected by the 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. We may have the unit records for the 79th AAA gun battalion; please contact our military reference staff for assistance in researching the unit in the command reports: archives2reference@nara.gov

Best of luck with your research!
Meredith (admin)

Hal Barker – Korean War Project April 2, 2011 at 10:53 am

No luck yet on obtaining the Command and Unit reports from JPAC, but I did file with OGIS and Senator Cornyn for an investigation. Looks like this will go to federal court. On the good side, I have obtained the Marine Corps digital records, about 130,000 pages, and am converting them to PDF. 700 files go online by April 15, 2010, including 1st Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Regiment, 7th Marine Regiment, 1 MAW, 1st Provisional Brigade. Anyone who wants a specific file set such as VMO-6 or Marine Air Control or Amtrac, just let me know and I will create PDF’s of those files and place them online. It also looks like I may obtain four file cabinets of Army 2ID records, including about 17,000 award citations. We also have 800 Korean War era maps online, including 534 Army Map Series L751 1:50,000 topo maps, and 160 AMS L752 series topo maps. All this data can be downloaded free of charge on the Korean War Project website.

Ted Barker April 9, 2011 at 7:22 am

We probably have info posted in our unit msg base about men who your Dad would know. As Meredith posted, co check for Command Reports.

Network at: http://www.koreanwar.org in our Looking For section.

Hal Barker June 1, 2011 at 6:52 am

We now have approximately 800 Marine Corps records sets online consisting of Command Diaries, Command Histories, and various records of the 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Air Wing, 1st Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Regiment, 7th Marine Regiment, and the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade. More records to come shortly.

http://www.koreanwar.org/html/usmc_korean_war_records.html

eldon knutson May 11, 2012 at 3:32 am

was my dad a korean war pow airforce Eldon james Knutson from minnesota

Daniel Carter Roberts February 6, 2013 at 5:27 am

My dad was Daniel Carter.He was shot inbetween may 22 1951 & july 17 1951 in south korean sector.Infantry,Private E-2. I think his service# was RA13362202. When i was a kid i seen his purpleheart. Can someone give me more information and maybe a service photo, records,something Please.

Meredith D. (admin) February 7, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Hi Daniel,

You might be able to find more information about your father’s service by requesting copies of his Military Service Records. You can request these by completing and mailing a copy of the SF-180 form, or by using our online eVetRecs system. Both the SF-180 form and the eVetRecs system are available on our website: http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/about-service-records.html

Best of luck with your research,
Meredith

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