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Family Tree Friday: An overview of Vietnam War-era records

by on January 28, 2011


As I’ve been reviewing pertinent records over the past several weeks relating to 20th-century military service, it’s finally time to say a few words about those that document the Vietnam War.  Instead of focusing on any one specific series, a general overview seems to offer the best approach to highlight these records, especially since they have been organized into their own record group: RG 472, Records of the United States Forces in Southeast Asia, 1950-1975.  Among a variety of headquarters and administrative records relating to such high-level military organizations as the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) Vietnam and the U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV), RG 472 holds records of the records of subordinate commands of the United States Army Vietnam (USARV) for 1965-73, including army corps, combat divisions and brigades, and some company-level tactical organizations (although, as a rule, it is usually difficult to locate company records for standard combat units).  Here’s a complete breakdown of available records:

  • Corps-sized organizations: Correspondence, daily journals, reports, issuances, and publications of I Field Force Vietnam, II Field Force Vietnam, and the Capital Military Assistance Command, 1965- 72.
  • Combat divisions: Correspondence, daily journals, reports, issuances, and organizational histories, 1965-72, of the 1st, 4th, 9th, 23d (Americal), and 25th Infantry Divisions; 1st Cavalry (Airmobile); and 101st Airborne.
  • Combat brigades: Correspondence, daily journals, reports, issuances, and organizational histories, 1965-72, of the 11th, 196th, 198th, and 199th Infantry (Light) Brigades; 1st Brigade of the 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized); 3d Brigade of the 82d Airborne Division; and 173d Airborne.
  • Combat support brigades: Correspondence, daily journals, reports, issuances, and organizational histories, 1967-72, of the 1st Aviation, 18th and 20th Engineer, 44th Medical, 18th Military Police, and 1st Signal Brigades.
  • Logistical support units: Correspondence, daily journals, reports, issuances, and organizational histories, 1965-73, of the 1st Logistical Command; U.S. Army Support Commands, Cam Ranh Bay, Da Nang, Qui Nhon, Saigon, and Vung Tau; U.S. Army Depots, Cam Ranh Bay, Da Nang, Long Binh, and Qui Nhon; Logistics Data Service Center; U.S. Army Inventory Control Center, Vietnam; U.S. Army Procurement Agency, Vietnam; U.S. Army Property Disposal Agency, Vietnam; and U.S. Army Mortuaries, Saigon and Da Nang.
  • Tactical units: Correspondence, daily journals, operational and intelligence reports, issuances, and organizational histories, 1965-72, of groups, battalions, detachments, and company-level units, arranged by branch (armor and cavalry; artillery; aviation; infantry; engineer; military police; signal; adjutant general; chemical; civil affairs and psychological operations; finance; maintenance; medical; military history; military intelligence; ordnance; public information; quartermaster; service, supply, and support; and transportation), and then by unit designation.

An example of the type of unit records you can find in RG 472 is the combat after action report of the Battle of Dak To for the 173rd Airborne Brigade (ARC ID 305331), which is part of the brigade’s operations file on Dak To in the series “After Action Reports, 1965-71″ (ARC ID 305329).  The report essentially documents in considerable narrative detail a search and destroy mission against two NVA units conducted by the 4th Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry on November 6, 1967.

For anyone interested in unit combat during the Vietnam War, the Records of United States Forces in Southeast Asia (RG 472) should be a definite starting point.


Comments

cliff misemer January 29, 2011 at 1:20 pm

I’m writing some papers and filing a VA claim and woul like to get som SIT REP’s, Daily Journals for my Claim. !s the RG 472 the form to complete? Where do I get it from the Archives Site?

John January 31, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Hi Cliff,

The best way to obtain the specific records you cited in your question would be to send a detailed request to inquire@archives.gov. The records are located at our research facility at College Park, Maryland; RG 472 is the actual record group which would include the material you are interested in. Good luck with your research!

- John

jim mullins March 14, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Looking for a copy of an after action report for the 2nd of the 47th Infantry Regiment (MECH), 9th Infantry Division, June 11th, 1970. The incident took place during the Cambodian incursion on Highway 7 in Cambodia.

John March 15, 2011 at 10:31 am

Hi Jim,

Please see my response to Cliff in the same blog post, just above your comment. The same research procedure would apply to your question. Also, you can contact the reference staff at Archives II directly at archives2reference@nara.gov. Your question will be directed to the appropriate military specialist who can check the Vietnam unit records for existing after action reports.

Good luck with your research!
John

jim mullins March 15, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Thanks John! You don’t realize how much I appreciate you and your efforts.

Rudy Ceballos March 21, 2011 at 2:12 pm

I would like a list of personnel assigned to Charlie Battery 7th bn 11th Field Artillery, 25th Inf. Div. May 9, 1968 in the Republic of Vietnam

John March 22, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Hi Rudy,

If personnel rosters still exist for the unit in question, the best way to obtain a copy would be to send a detailed request to inquire@nara.gov. The records are located at our research facility at College Park, Maryland. You can also email the Archives II reference staff directly at archives2reference@nara.gov; your question will be directed to the appropriate military expert who will check the Vietnam unit records for the roster.

- John

Bob Stroud March 23, 2011 at 2:06 pm

I’d like to find out if there are daily operations journals for the 1st Bn. 501st Inf. 101st Abn Div. for the period 5 Mar 71 thru 10 Apr 71.

John March 24, 2011 at 9:46 am

Hi Bob,

If you take a look at my previous responses in this blog thread, the same research advice would apply to your specific question as well. The military reference staff at Archives II in College Park, Maryland will be able to determine if any operations journals are available for the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry, 101st Airborne Division for the time period in question. Send your question directly to archives2reference@nara.gov.

Good luck with your research!

- John

Terry Mitchell May 13, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Trying to locate army buddies home address US Army during 1973-1974 @ D Troop 4/7 Calvary Air Station 2nd Division.

John May 23, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Hi Terry,

I’m afraid the National Archives will probably not be able to help you locate your former Army comrades. We generally do not maintain records, especially personal information, about living individuals. Any home addresses or other personal information that might appear in their military personnel files at the National Personnel Records Center is also restricted for privacy reasons to the veteran or their immediate next of kin. The NPRC however does have some suggestions for locating military personnel members on the NARA web site at http://www.archives.gov/veterans/other-resources/find-vets.html. These include the National Contact Center (part of the General Services Administration), which has links to locator services of the U.S. military and the American Rec Cross, and information about finding private individuals from the Social Security Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of State, and the Salvation Army. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can also forward a message from you to another veteran, providing the veteran has filed a claim with VA and they have an address on record.

I hope this information helps and good luck with your search!
John

Ruth October 5, 2011 at 10:50 am

Can a veteran or his family do research at the College Park, MD location…and if so, are all the records available to them?

Meredith D. (admin) October 5, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Hi Ruth,

Veterans and family are welcome to do research at the College Park, MD facility; however, military records from WWI to the present are physically held in the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. More information about researching military records is available on our website:

http://www.archives.gov/veterans/
http://www.archives.gov/research/military/veterans/

Best of luck with your research!
Meredith

Ann June 11, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Where are regular Army (not Reserve or National Guard) unit rosters from 1979-1984 located and what is the procedure for accessing them? NPRC website stops with 1974. I know morning reports were discontinued and switched to PDC cards after 1974, but it’s not clear what happened to unit rosters. Thanks.

Meredith D. (admin) June 13, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Hi Ann,

Unit rosters and unit records are held at the National Archives in College Park. We recommend contacting the modern military staff at archives2reference@nara.gov. If you have a particular Army unit in mind, our staff can check what specific records are available for you.

Best of luck with your research,
Meredith

Vicki R. Yates August 27, 2012 at 4:42 pm

C–ould you please tell me what records exist for Delta Co. 4th Bn 3d Inf. 11th Inf. Bdn in Vietnam from 1968-1969? Thank you.

Joe Edwards January 14, 2013 at 10:16 pm

John,
I am trying to locate the 1stBn 8thInf 4th Inf Div I Aug 67 at Ft, Lewis WA to 20 Jan 69 at Camp Enari (Pleiku SVN) records for a promised Silver Star award. I will need company rosters for these times, also. Thank you!

Dewey Jowers January 28, 2013 at 11:32 am

Im trying to find out about my fathers military service in Germany in 1964-65. He was in the 4th Armour Div.Thanks for your help.

Meredith D. (admin) January 31, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Hi Dewey,

Veterans and their next-of-kin can request copies of their Military Service Records using our online eVetRecs system, or by mailing a copy of the SF-180 form, both available on our website: http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/about-service-records.html

Best of luck with your research!
Meredith

Meredith D. (admin) February 1, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Hi Joe,

It is best to contact our military reference staff about your request; they will be able to do more thorough research into the records you seek. You can contact them via email at: archives2reference@nara.gov. Additionally, the National Archives at St. Louis might have more information on the Silver Star award; you can contact them at 314-801-0800 or at: MPR.center@nara.gov

Best of luck with your research!
Meredith

David Wood February 4, 2013 at 12:52 am

Reference period: January 1968 through June 1968. Does ARC ID 305329 include the 173rd, 2nd and 4th Battalions, S2 and S3 Daily Operational Records? What about daily causality reports (KIA/WIA/MIA) from the Battalion Aid Stations? Are there any senior officer reports, diaries, or notes from 173rd Battalion or Company Commanders? Thank you. David Wood

Meredith D. (admin) February 7, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Hi David,

I recommend sending a reference request to our Military Reference Staff in College Park. They will be able to do a more thorough search into the reference period, records, and reports you’re looking for. You can contact them via email at: archives2reference@nara.gov

Thank you!
Meredith

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