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 After hitting several brick walls I am seeking help as where or how to proceed.  My dad was in Battery A 505th CA (AA) regiment. I know he landed in Salerno. At this point I get totally lost. I can't find where or how his regiment was assigned, or combined with other regiments.  All I know is the last 9 months he was an M P in Germany,arriving back in the states and was separated from service 11/17/45 Indiantown gap Pa.  I received info from Eisenhower library , but there was no unit breakdown. National archives had nothing records were destroyed.  Is there any record that would trace by name or service i.d. number? Any help would be appreciated.  Rick


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1.  did you try NARA's contact in College Park, MD?  The fire burned individuals' files and some morning reports, but NOT unit records.  They are at College Park, MD.

Contact them via their web site.

2.  I found the following:

August 2009                                     The Coast Defense Journal               Page 73

505th Coast Artillery (AA) Regiment (Mobile) Activated in AUS 6-1-42 at Cp. Edwards, MA, and moved to Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA, 11-29-42 and staged for overseas deployment. Departed NYC POE 12-8-42, arrived England 12-13-42. Moved to North Africa 3-4-43 and landed in Salerno, Italy, 9-9-43. Inactivated Santa Maria, Italy, 3-14-44. HHB redesignated HHB 505th AAA Gp; 1st Bn redesignated 87th AAA (Gun) Bn; 2nd Bn redesignated 900th AAA (AW) Bn; 3rd Bn disbanded.

3.  Given that the unit was reorganized, it is likely that many individuals were reassigned to other branches.  That's how my father went from AAA to Combat Engineers.

4.  (Maybe your best bet) You should also contact the VA and request your Dad's VA file.  I think they are separate from the files in St. Louis.   You are entitled to it as next of kin.  That file has all sorts of stuff in it (My father's had an evacuation tag from an incident when he was on active duty and was hurt).  IT ALSO should contain enough paperwork that you can trace your father from unit to unit.  I had access to several files during my Ph.D research...and was able to do so for several men...and these files came from various locations across the country.  They were sent to my local VA clinic to allow me access.  



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Yes, it's often confusing for newbie researchers, because they are put off the "hunt" when they contact NARA in St Louis. For the life of me, I don't understand why they don't include a paragraph in their return letter, informing people that there are other ways of obtaining a veteran's discharge papers, such as contacting their father's (grandfather's, etc.) documents at his local VA, etc. Instead, they make it sound as though it is a dead-end. 

NARA is Maryland is a completely separate entity, and as Theron points, they have UNIT records, not individual personnel records. 

For instance, I too was turned away by NARA in St Louis, then through careful and persistent research, discovered there were other ways to obtain what I was seeking. I contacted the VA in Michigan to get my dad's discharge papers, and then hired a private researcher to copy several hundred documents regarding the 540th Engineers. It was incredible.

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Hi all:

It has been a few years (1980's or so)  since I did this, but here is another idea:

Another possible source of discharge papers:   Try the County clerk's Office on the county of residence of the soldier AT THE TIME OF THE WAR. 

After the war,  States often paid a bonus to any veteran who filed his/her discharge with the County of Residence.  Many counties still hold these records.  Sometimes there is a charge of a few dollars for a copy.

Some States hold these records in the State Capitol;  A few States limit access to these records to next of Kin.  If I remember correctly, Illinois does this.

Incidentally, as part of my Ph.D thesis research, I obtained  some 195 discharge records this way. I started out with an old address book one veteran had kept and went from there.  Tedious, but this was before days of the internet and White Pages etc.  

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