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Archival Research

Background and Responsibilities

DPMO research analysts perform most of their historical research in the Washington, DC area, primarily at the National Archives & Records Administration II (NARA II), the Federal Records Center and at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC).

In the last few years, DPMO researchers have obtained thousands of records that have provided family members information about their loved one's loss, including details about the missing person's unit; the nature of the unit's operation at the time of the individual's disappearance; and the number of individuals missing from the same event. Other records recount the search and recovery efforts undertaken after the incident occurred; graves registration efforts to locate the remains of a lost individual; and any existing burial information. NARA II is home to hundreds of thousands of unit records, photos and aerial images, maps, and a host of other military-related documents.

Conducting Research on Prisoners of War/Missing in Action

Basic research is done to collect and maintain data on casualties and incidents for family members. The process includes:

  • Collection of data on individuals, loss incidents and from post-incident reports.
  • Maintainance of collected data in individual casualty and incident files.
  • DPMO, JPAC and Service Casualty Offices maintain many casualty files.
  • The National Archives and Records Administration is a primary repository.
  • Networking with others who lost loves ones in the same incident or area.

More information about the collection, processing and availability of casualty and incident data for family members is described in:

Recent Activities

DPMO’s archival research team continues its work on special projects, especially the development of specific databases. One significant special archival research project, developed by DPMO personnel, is entitled “The Korean War Aircraft Loss Database” (KORWALD). No complete record of Korean War aircraft losses existed prior to the compilation of this database.

KORWALD contains over 3,400 loss incidents including USAF, USN, and USMC aircraft losses. It also contains information on aircraft type and tail number, date of loss, circumstances of loss, status of crew, crash location, and the blood chit number, if available. The data is cross-referenced to over 800 hard-copy field search case files that contain detailed circumstances of loss of our air crews. Analysts can electronically search the database and then refer to the hard-copy field search cases for details on specific losses. This database is a significant research tool for analysts, historians, and researchers.

China Archives Reports