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Vietnam Era Military Records


Several people have asked me if you can get Vietnam era compiled service records. The answer is no unless you are the veteran. If the veteran is deceased then the surviving spouse or child can get the records. When my dad died in 2004 I was able to get his entire military service record. The Air Force also sent all of my dad’s medals and ribbons which was a nice surprise and very much appreciated. I got a real kick out of reading my dad’s yearly evaluations. He had a bit of an attitude. If you knew my dad you wouldn’t be a bit surprised that his commanding officers mentioned it a time or two. He had a hot temper and liked to get into fights. He also didn’t like people telling him what to do. Even so, he was good at his job and made it to the rank of Senior Master Sergeant by the time he retired. Not bad considering he got busted a couple of times.

The National Archives at St. Louis has all the information you need to request "non-archival" records. The records are archived when it has been 62 years since the person's discharge date. At that time they become public record.

There is some Vietnam era (and later) information that has been publicly released such as causality lists, POW/MIA lists, and lists of people who received military awards and honors.



Awards and Decorations

There is one other thing you need to be aware of. On 12 July 1973 there was a fire at the National Personnel Records Center which destroyed millions of military personnel files. Read more information about that disastrous event. Luckily, my dad's file was still intact.


Michele's Dad
SMSgt Thomas Calvin Simmons


Michele Simmons Lewis, CG® is part of the Legacy Family Tree team at MyHeritage. She handles the enhancement suggestions that come in from our users as well as writing for Legacy News. You can usually find her hanging out on the Legacy User Group Facebook page answering questions and posting tips.


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Is this just for US Vietnam records or including Australia.

This is US only. I don't know what the laws in Australia are governing the release of military records.

It's even difficult for the veteran to get all of their records. I have tried three times with NPRC in St. Louis and they told me each time we have to ask for specific documents and cannot just ask for all of them. It makes no sense to me. Fortunately I kept some of mine.

They also do not provide health records or pay statements. They say the health records can be obtained from the VA, but this is not true. I asked at different VA medical centers and they have told me they do not have our medical records. They refer back to the NPRC. I tell all currently serving military to hold onto their records because years later it will be hard to get them replaced.

I was able to get my father's military records, but not all of them because he worked in classified positions. He and my mother served during WWII. The NPRC claims my mother's records were lost in the 1973 fire even though I read Navy records were not affected by the fire and she was Navy.

This was a problem in 2015 when we needed her records to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Fortunately my brother found some of her records at home. There was a lot of information in there I didn't know about her time in service so military records can be very interesting if a person can obtain all of them. They go nicely with the stories our family might have shared.

WOW :( I had no problem at all other than a 6 week wait. I didn't ask for the medical though, just his compiled service record. Now you have me wondering if I should try and get his medical. I doubt if there is anything in there that I don't already know but you never know.

When my Dad was preparing for discharge after his career in the Navy, we were advised to get a copy of our medical records. I was given a 6 inch thick folder of my own records since birth. Since the whole family lived overseas in 3 decades, it was facinating to me that we each had such big files. Dad is now in his late 80s. I'm wondering if I should have Mom help him order now ....What are the steps?

Use this link...


My father was a Purple Heart Recipient and a Prisoner Of War during the Korean War. My father’s DD 214 never showed he was a Prisoner Of War. I also requested copies of my father’s military records with a response that his military records were destroyed in the fire in 1973. Through not giving up and continuing with my search ... Information From Hospital Admission Cards Created ... By The Office Of The Surgeon General, Department Of The Army (1942 - 1954) Information For The Year 1951: they were able to produce three documents that I needed showing he was evacuated to the United States in current year as: Prisoner Of War. I do remember my request was made to the Surgeon General in Texas. Although I do not see the address that I sent the request to. There are ways to get the records, although this whole process is very time consuming.

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