Friday, December 30, 2011

Using These Military Records?

Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF)
From: Defense Prisoner of War - Missing Personnel Office

As military researchers we divide records into three categories as outlined by the Department of Defense Archival Research: 1) personnel records 2) graves registration records, and 3) records from the field. See the Defense Prisoner of War - Missing Personnel Office for more information.

Within personnel records there are 2 sets of files created for soldiers that become quite useful when researching your veteran ancestor:
  • Individual Personnel File or IPF
  • Individual Deceased Personnel File or IDPF
Individual Personnel File or IPF

We often speak of the IPF and researchers learn quickly that individual service files for soldiers exist; albeit, some have been destroyed, others reconstructed from the 1942 fire. Your veterans’ IPF may include enlistment and discharge details, payroll information, awards and promotions and various assignments and stations. Read Military Records Were Destroyed for more information.

IDPF Information

What is underutilized in our military research is the information that can be accessed for soldiers who were “killed in action” and those who died while in war or in service both stateside and overseas. Burial Files precede WWII Individual Deceased Personnel Files (IDPF).

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows us to obtain IDPFs which were initiated in order to document soldiers’ military service, circumstance of death, location of interment during the war and efforts of recovering remains. The casualty report (DD1300) is included.

IDPFs most often contain unit information and the soldier’s burial information is usually accompanied with an action report and death circumstance even if a soldier’s remains were not recovered or identified.  Researchers may also find testimonies of witnesses in the field. Insurance papers and listing of personal effects may also be included. These files may be compiled on one page or stuffed in a tome-like folder to include family correspondence and multiple reports.

Where Was He Buried?

Researchers often use IDPF files to determine the final resting place of an ancestor. Many bodies were moved from the original burial location and returned stateside or to an overseas cemetery.  IDPF documentation will provide information on any transport.

Body Recovered?
If the body was recovered, an autopsy report may be included. But beware, there may also be graphic photographs.  Recently, for an exhibit, a curator was only looking for the graphic photographs.

What to Expect
  • As this request is processed under the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) know that some next of kin and sensitive data may be redacted.
  • Due to the backlog and processes, expect 6-9 months to receive an IDPF. However, thanks to a newer streamlining process, we have recently received them as early as 45 days.
Kathleen Brandt
accurate, accessible answers

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