Thursday, July 29, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: Dad's military personnel file, part four

I'm sharing the recently-acquired military personnel file for my dad, a WWII U.S. Naval aviator in the Pacific, a few pages at a time.  Click here to see what I've posted so far, and click on any image to enlarge it.

Although a copy of my dad's military separation document is one of the last items in his OMPF (Official Military Personnel File), I'm posting the scanned original as part four of this series.  Curiously, the file doesn't contain documents detailing his training as an aviator cadet, but this form lists the types of instruction he received with the location and duration of each, along with a wealth of other info. (Have you neglected military records in your own 20th-century research?  You might be surprised at how much info they contain.)  It seemed a logical next post as I discuss Dad's military career chronologically.

Notice of Separation from U.S. Naval Service (Form NAVPERS 553) for George Constant Hall, 21 Dec. 1945, New Orleans, Louisiana.  Digital scan of original privately held by the Hall family, La.  

A military separation document can provide a lot of genealogical information.  This one form contains: 
  • my father's full name
  • birth date and place
  • residence
  • date of enlistment
  • date of entry into active duty
  • date of commission
  • date of separation, and
  • place of separation.  
It also details the places Dad received specialized training and the length of each course:
  • "PrepFlight," Natchitoches, La., 13 weeks
  • "WTS," Lafayette, La., 14 weeks
  • "PreFlight," Athens, Ga., 12 weeks
  • "Primary, St. Louis, 12 weeks
  • "Basic," "Instruments," and "Advanced," Pensacola, Fla., 27 weeks.

The form states that he served in Fighting Squadron Six (also known as VF-6).  Dad was a fighter pilot, and the form tells us that he served aboard the USS Hancock, an aircraft carrier stationed out of NAS Hilo, Hawaii.

Also given are dates and details of his previous employment, as a "derrickman (oil)" for the Union Sulphur Co. in Sulphur, La., and his preference (at the time) to work in aviation after leaving the Navy.  The form also lists his formal education (high school) and vocational training (3 months of machinist instruction) as of December, 1945.

Oh, and it tells me that Dad's draft board was in Sulphur, La., where the Hall family had lived since the 1930s.  For World War II draft records, only the Fourth Registration ("the old man's draft") is currently open to the public due to privacy laws.  I can wait for Dad's registration record--I don't expect to find any info I don't already know--but this is a great clue for my "mystery grandpa" Robert Bunyan Hall, who may have qualified for that registration (men who born on or between 28 April 1877 and 16 February 1897 who were not already in the military -- Grandpa's birth year is listed as 1875, 1877 and 1878 on various forms).  Currently, does not have the Louisiana records (some records are online there), but they are available on microfilm.  Woo hoo!

While today's military separation forms (detailing release or discharge from active duty) are referred to as "DD Form 214" or "DD-214," the forms had other designations in the past.  The National Archives website states: "Before January 1, 1950, several similar forms were used by the military services, including the WD AGO 53, WD AGO 55, WD AGO 53-55, NAVPERS 553, NAVMC 78PD, and the NAVCG 553."  Find out more about requesting military personnel files here.

Copyright 2010 by Liz Hall Morgan.  All rights reserved.


  1. Have you thought to submit your father's military information to The Veterans History Project at It took me some time to gather my Dad's information and was able to put together a good amount of papers and photographs.

  2. I had seen info before but thanks for reminding me about it again. I'll check out what it entails.

  3. Oh! i find this interesting, where are the other posts? My father to was military man, i will also need to search for his documents..thanks for sharing!!

  4. The top paragraph of my post has a link in the last sentence: "Click here to see what I've posted so far" -- or click the tag "Dad's OMPF" (Official Military Personnel File) in the tag cloud to the right for my other posts about his file. Or the "Navy" tag for more.
    The last sentence of this post has a link to the National Archives site that will tell you how to get military records.
    Thanks for posting, glad you enjoyed it! :)

  5. p.s. "tag cloud" or "tags" is the "labels" section on the right side of my blog ---> all those keywords in blue, for anyone who is new to this blog stuff. :)