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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why did you choose to research military casualties?

I have always been interested in the role of the “unknown” Americans in World War 2. As a child, I had a large book from Time Life that showed many incredible photos from the War, but they focused more on the well-known historical figures from the War than individuals who served. However, the book did show a photo of a B-17 (nicknamed “Wee Willie”) going down over Berlin near the end of the War. Even as a kid, I wondered what happened to the ten men on board. You can read my blog post about that story here.
The first person I researched was a close relative that my dad grew up with. It was hard on my family not to know what happened to him. That’s how I learned how frustratingly difficult it is to piece together this information, and how much it matters when you finally receive it.

Have you always been a full-time researcher?

I was a researcher for well over a decade during my corporate career, dedicating nights, weekends, and vacations to my research. I made it my fulltime profession in 2014.

Why did you decide to leave your career to pursue your research full-time?

I decided to dedicate myself full-time to military casualty research for several reasons:
– Time is running out for thousands of Americans who lost immediate family members and never learned what happened to them. I feel a great urgency about this.
– To tell the stories of the more than 400,000 Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice in World War 2.
– To devote time to the completion of my historical novel and several works of nonfiction.

Why do you charge?

Like any expert, I charge for the time that I devote to help people with something that they either can’t or don’t desire to do themselves. I must pay fees to receive many of the files, in addition to postage or shipping costs (many of the files are 50 or 100 pages or more). As a consultant, I don’t charge for the files themselves, but for my time and expertise.

Do you research individuals only?

I research individuals and groups.

Can I find the same information on the Internet?

The type of information I research is not available on the Internet, or through any single source. Even outside the Internet, is no single source and no database that contains all veteran casualty records for 20th Century wars.

The Internet is a great place to start your search, and you may find information that has been published about the person or unit you’re interested in. If you can’t find the information you’re looking for, if you aren’t sure if you have all the information that is available, or if you’ve gone through many channels without success, get in touch with me through this web site and let’s work together on it.

Can I access the information by contacting the branch of the U.S. military where my veteran served?

No, the U.S. military is not set up to assist researchers. Also, there is no single database that contains all of the records necessary. Many resources are involved in this type of specialized research.

Why is it so difficult to find information about veterans who died or were listed as POW or MIA during World War 2?

This is due to a number of reasons. The most important is that there is no unified database for the World War 2 dead and missing that provides the details most people are seeking; that is, the manner of death, and the location and date of death. Also, the records themselves were not prepared for 21st century family members to understand, so it helps to have an expert to decipher the files. Some of the information may be clear to you when you read the files, but many important details would be missed.
Also, millions of American military service records were destroyed by a fire at the National Archives in 1973. This means that information on some veterans who were not killed in wars between 1911 and 1973 no longer exists. If you’re in doubt, please contact me.

What kinds of documents are located through your searches?

Personnel files, casualty files, various unit “After Action Reports,” accident reports, letters from the next of kin to the military, lists of personal possessions owned by the deceased, burial records, translated enemy documents, and much more.

Will I receive copies of the original documents, or just a write-up of what the records contain?

You will receive copies of the original documents, in color when available. I will also provide my own write-up that will highlight the most significant findings and other relevant information that I can contribute due to my many years researching WW2 veterans.

What special qualifications do you have?

I hold a BA in History and a Masters in Geography, both from UCLA. I began my researching military casualties in 1999. I studied extensively to learn how to research all of the different types of reports and personnel files from each branch of the U.S. military.

With more than 15 years’ experience doing this specialized research, I know how to unravel the various bureaucratic tangles that come up. In addition, I have forged personal relationships with many of the key individuals who manage and allow access to the various records sets I research, and vast amount of knowledge of the subject matter, where various files are located, and many other aspects of conducting a search that yields the desired results.

I have produced records and analysis on more than 1,600 veterans for over a thousand clients.

What is included in your records analysis?

The original documents were often prepared under conditions of wartime secrecy and under severe time constraints. They contain many acronyms and other phrases or “slang” that will not be easily understood by the general reading public. I also advise my clients about what is stated in terms that are not readily decipherable by the general public, or what is not explicitly stated in the documents.

What information do I need to provide in order to start a search?

In terms of casualty research, all I usually need is a full name. Branch of military and hometown can be helpful as well.

Do I need to be a family member of a veteran in order to request their file or to start a search?

No. Anyone who is interested may request the files. Whether you are a distant family member, a community member, a genealogical researcher, student or a teacher, a fellow-veteran, an author, or merely someone who is interested in this time period and the veterans who served in these wars, your requests are welcomed and fully allowed and respected.

What if I want to research from a whole unit or squadron, or a group of veterans from my hometown, county, school, or university?

I have researched many groups varying in size (from half a dozen to multiple hundreds), including groups from UCLA; Downey High School (Downey, CA); Ellington, CT; Brownsville, TX; Fort Worth, TX; Big Stone County, MN; Madison County, FL, and numerous Squadrons and flight crews and others.

 

To learn more, visit my Military Casualty Research page, search my database, or to request a customized research project through my Contact page, or email me directly.