I get a lot of questions from clients about what medals their family member were awarded during military service. For those researching Air Corps, Army Air Forces and Air Force between 1942-1963, there is now a valuable resource available online! The Air Force Award Cards, 1942 – 1963. These records previously had to be searched at the NPRC facility in St. Louis.
Why Do You Need this Record Set?
For those who were in the Army Air Forces (no matter what it was officially called between 1942-1963), these cards will provide you with the details about medal awarded to your family member. This is especially important when the OMPF (Official Military Personnel File – service file) burned. Sometimes, but not always, does an individuals IDPF (Individual Deceased Personnel File) – available if they died during military service, will show medals received. Even in cases where a Purple Heart is listed in an IDPF, there may still be other medals not listed.
For our example we will use Joseph L. Russo, an airman who was KIA. You can learn more about Joseph, a Chicago man and read his 120 page IDPF here. Sadly his OMPF burned.
Learn How To Use The Air Force Award Cards Record Set
- The primary record group information is located here: The Air Force Award Cards, 1942 – 1963. If you scroll down the page you will read how the records are categorized by medal. You cannot search this for a specific name and have that name pop up. You have to work to find your family member. Farther down the page there is a blue button that says Search Within This Series. Click that.
- To Search you are taken to this website within the NARA Catalog.
- When we search for S/SGT JOSEPH RUSSO ASN 16135410, you will see several categories of Air Force Awards appear which include: Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Air Medal, Commendation Medal and so on.
- If we click the Air Medal Air Force Award Cards [Air Medal]: Ruf, Benjamin – Ruszin, CharlesFrom RG: 64 – you must then start hunting within the images shown for JOSEPH RUSSO.
- We do find a card for him for the Oak Leaf Clusters at image 1155/1243.
- Using the GO (General Order) number you can obtain a copy of that record from NARA College Park to learn more details about the award.
- You should continue searching all medals until you have exhausted all possibilities. Should you choose to request replacement medals, you can contact NARA and read more about it on their website.
- IMPORTANT! Airmen were often in one unit – although there are many cases where they have changed units or Bomb Groups or Bomb Squads. Pay particular attention to what unit is listed on each award card. When the OMPF burned and you are searching Morning Reports and later Unit Records, this information is important. It is never a good idea to assume the final unit on a Discharge Paper or Award Card or IDPF is the only unit. It rarely is the whole story.
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