As the webmaster, I receive a lot, and I do mean a lot, of email requesting ship/shipmate information, ship photos or asking where information can be located. I have developed this page to help those of you with these requests. I wish I had time to help you find all the information you desire, but I just do not have that many hours in my day. I volunteer my time as the DESA webmaster. I hope the information on this page is helpful to you.
Things you should know:
The webmaster does not have individual ship information, ship roosters or photos.
DESA headquarters has limited individual ship information that is available only to members.
You must be a Member of DESA to request information about shipmates who are DESA members.
The Member Email List, for DESA members only, and Reunions pages are updated frequently. Please do not request information from the webmaster. Check the Email List and Reunions often.
There are invaluable resources on the Internet for locating ship and shipmate information. Please conduct a search before contacting DESA or the webmaster. Read below for instructions on how to conduct a successful search.
The information you are seeking may not be available on the Internet or from DESA, but may be available elsewhere. Read below.
The information below is for locating U.S. Navy DE and Crewmember information only, with emphasis on WWII military service. If you need help locating information for other timeframes or other types of Navy ships, please visit the US Navy website.
There are many excellent resources for locating information on the Internet. This is a partial list of sites that I find helpful. There are many more sites.
U.S. Navy website - this frequently asked questions page will answer many of your questions.
U.S. Naval Historical Center - another frequently asked questions page that you want to be sure to visit! There is a wealth of information here.
DANFS Online - One of the best sources of the histories on the ships of the U.S. Navy is The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS), an eight-volume reference set published by the Naval Historical Center. Webmaster Andrew Toppan has made DANFS available online at his excellent Hazegray website. DANFS is published, also, on the Naval Historical Center website.
NavSource - The simple goal of NavSource Naval History is the preservation of naval history, in the form of images and text, and to help former shipmates find each other by providing reunion and contact information. Webmaster Paul Yarnall offer this fantastic resource and works closely with Hazegray and DESAUSA.org.
Destroyers Online - Striving to collect, preserve and display historical information about the ships, their crews and the U.S. Navy. An excellent resource.
Tin Can Sailors Association - Has a small but growing library of DE information including photos. A great website and organization.
American Battle Monuments Commission - If you want to learn about a veteran who died while in service, visit this website. Go to the WW II or other war area and type the last name then first name and middle initial WITHOUT punctuation. When the name comes up, click on the GO box to the left of the listing.
U-Boat Archives - devoted mainly to u-boat activity in WWII, but contains many photos and information about DEs.
Bulletin Boards are great places to post a notice that you are seeking information. Some of the sites above offer bulletin boards. Be sure to visit the DESA Bulletin Board and post a notice. Also, be sure to check the DESA Reunions web page and the DE Links page
To locate other resources, a "search engine" should be used:
My favorite search engine is Google.
It is important that you search "correctly". To make most search engines work in your favor you need to be sure you enter your search information in the correct format. For example, if you are searching for information about the USS Doyle C. Barnes DE 353 you need to type the information in quotation marks " ", like this:
"USS Doyle C Barnes DE 353"
Why? This tells the search engine that you want to find web pages that contain ALL the words you typed, not EACH word. If you typed Doyle C. Barnes DE 353 without quotation marks, some search engine will return page results that contain the word Doyle, the word Barnes, the word DE, the number 353, but not ALL the words on the same page.
Also, if a search engine offers a Advanced Search option, use it. This allows you to select options that will refine your search and return the best results.
Be sure to read the Instructions for the search engine you use. Some engines require the use of the word "and", "or" , other words, to string words together. These engines do not allow you to put your search terms in quotations marks, as in the above example.
AOL users need to use another search engine in addition to the one provided by AOL. The AOL search engine is not known for being the best.
"I don't know
anything about my father's Navy DE service. I need info"
To answer these and similar questions, you need to obtain information about the DE or the individual sailor.
Where and How To Locate Information
Personnel (service) Records
These instructions are for the records of a sailor discharged, deceased or retired.
records are primarily administrative records and can contain information
DD Form 214, Report of Separation
is generally issued when a service member performs active duty or at least
90 consecutive days of active duty training. The Report of Separation
contains information normally needed to verify military service for
benefits, retirement, employment, and membership in veterans' organizations.
Information shown on the Report of Separation may include the service
The report of separation form issued in most recent years is the DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. 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. However, when requesting this information for a WWII DE sailor, you should use the term "DD 214" when you request information because this is the generic term.
NOTE: By law, the full personnel record can only be released to the serviceman, or if that individual is deceased, his next of kin. Limited information is releasable to the general public without the consent of the veteran or the next-of-kin.
Before you begin, be sure you have the following REQUIRED Information:
* The veteran's complete
name used while in service
*For officers who served from 1890 to 1967, the 4 or 6-digit serial number is required!
You can begin the request process online. Although you initiate the request online, you must print the completed form and mail or FAX it within 20 days. Go here to fill out the online request form. Remember, the above noted information is REQUIRED.
If the online request form does not work (AOL, Netscape and WebTV users may experience problems) or if you prefer to do things the old fashion way, download a copy of the form and mail your request. Follow the instructions carefully! Remember, the above noted information is REQUIRED.
For more information, visit there web page: The National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR)
These instructions are for the records of a sailor discharged, deceased or retired between 1912 and 31 January 1994.
Medical records can provide valuable information about injuries sustained or death information and dates.
Health records cover outpatient, dental, and mental health treatment which a former member received while in the military service. Health record documents include induction and separation physical examinations, and routine medical care (doctor/dental visits, lab tests, etc.) when the patient was not admitted to a hospital. In comparison, clinical (hospital inpatient) records are NOT filed with the health records but are generally retired to NPRC (MPR) by the hospital or facility which created them.
NOTE: By law, medical records can only be released to the serviceman, or if that individual is deceased, his next of kin. Also, the request must be submitted in writing. The Privacy Act of 1974 (5 USC 552a) and DOD directives require a written request, signed and dated.
To obtain a medical record, the procedure and required information is the same as for obtaining personel (service) records, above.
For more information, visit there web page: The National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR)
Ship's Muster Rolls
A muster roll contains the names of all the sailors aboard the ship at a given time. These rolls were submitted quarterly, with monthly updates of personnel changes. The roll contains the crewmember's name, rank/rating, and service number.
To obtain muster rolls from 1939 to 1966, send a written request with the ship's name and hull number and dates of interest.
Submit the request to:
Ship's Deck Logs
A deck log is a daily chronology of certain events for administrative and legal purposes. Deck logs are not narrative and do not describe or explain a ship's operations.
Generally, these events were included in the log. This is a partial list: Absentees, Basic information about Accidents/Injuries/Deaths and if medical treatment was required, Combat Actions, Incidents at Sea, Movement Orders, Sightings, Sea Conditions, Bearings.
What is NOT in a deck log: Day-to-day assignments of individual crewmembers, detailed medical treatment for injuries or other medical matters such as visits to sick bay or injuries not suffered on board ship. Also, a deck log is NOT a "Captain's Log" of daily written activities. There is no such thing in the US Navy.
By using the deck logs, a list of officers can be obtained. Combined with a Muster Roll, a crewlist crew can be compiled.
A deck log was usually 2 pages per day, 60 pages per month/700 pages a year. Some of the logs are now on microfiche. The remaining logs are the original pages placed in binders. The National Archives does not have the staff to sift through thousands of pages or stacks of microfiche to respond to your request. Therefore, you must narrow your written request for a search to a particular time and/or place.
You can visit the archive and conduct a deck log search. You must arrange an appointment at least two weeks in advance specifying the ship and time period you wish to search.
Note: There may be a fee associated with your request that must be paid in advance.
To obtain deck logs from 1941 to 1969, send a written request to:
"I need a ship's deck log or muster roll, but I need someone to do some extensive searching for the specific information that I need. I can't go to the Archives myself. Who can help me?"
As stated above, personnel at the Archives can only do specific research and limited photocopying for you. They simply don't have the personnel to do extensive research for you. So, if you do not know the exact timeframe or other specific information, or just want a whole lot more information, you may contact the Naval Historical Foundation's Research Service for help. Please note there is a charge for this service.
For a preliminary consultation and
current rates call (202) 678-4311 or send email to: NHFHistSvc@aol.com
Institute has one of the world's largest
private collections of naval and maritime photography. The majority of the images in the
collection are of vessels, however, photos of aircraft, individuals, combat, personnel,
and weapons are also available. Any of the photographs in the collection which are not
copyrighted are available for purchase.
U.S. Naval Institute
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has ship photos available for a fee. NARA uses private contractors who make copies of these photos for you. You pay the private contractor to locate and reproduce the photo. The cost varies. Visit the website for more information or you can submit your request in writing to:
National Archives and Records
Historical Foundation (NHF), a non-profit organization, offers reproductions of historic photography, research services, and document reproduction for records, artifacts,
publications, photographs and other items in the collections of both the Foundation and the Naval Historical Center. This page
of the website provides more information and notes the costs
There are other private resources for obtaining/purchasing photos. Please use a search engine to locate these resources.
"I plan to visit the Nation Archives and look for US Navy information. Where do I look?"
US Navy Information At The National Archives
U.S. Navy records were transferred from the Navy Historical Center in Washington D.C. to the U.S. National Archives at College Park, Maryland in 1996. Materials at the archives are separated into Record Groups.
records from World War II are found in Record Group 38.
Visit the NARA website for hours of operation and visitor information.
To Receive Medals or Awards or to
Requests for the issuance or replacement of US Navy service medals, decorations and awards is directed to the Bureau of Naval Personnel.
You must have a copy of the veterans DD 214 or other official separation document to place a request.
If you have a copy of the DD 214, go here and download Form SF-180. Print the form, complete the information and submit it along with the DD 214 to:
Bureau of Naval Personnel
or FAX to: 314-801-9195
Once you have a copy of the DD 214, follow the above instructions.
Where to write in case
of a problem or an appeal only:
Remain calm. You simply have to backtrack a little to obtain the service number and rating. All is not lost if you at least know the name of the DE and a date the sailor was aboard the ship. For example, if your family member served aboard the USS Whitman during WWII and you know he was in the Pacific in 1944, it's pretty safe to request a copy of the Whitman Muster Roll. This roll will note the sailor's service number. Scroll up this page a few lines until you see Ship's Muster Rolls and Deck Logs for instructions on obtaining these records.
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