One of the most important files a researcher needs if he or she is investigating the life and death of a soldier, sailor, or Marine who was Killed In Action or died in World War II, is the Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF.) This file was also created for the Korean War and Vietnam War for those who died or are still Missing In Action.
In WWI it was called a Burial File.
Caution! I have heard from many European researchers that when they have the IDPF for their soldier they are researching or whose grave they have adopted, that they have the entire story. This is incorrect. The IDPF provides information on a soldier for one moment in time. It is usually never the entire story as many soldiers were in more units during their overseas service, than the one listed on the IDPF. Please investigate other records to learn the full story about your soldier.
What is the IDPF?
The IDPF is a collection of documents created when a soldier was declared Missing In Action and never recovered or died in the war. When I say a soldier died in the war, it could be he was Killed In Action, died as a POW, or died of wounds. Regardless of how he died, he died while serving. These files contain a wealth of information about a soldier, range from 20 pages to over 100, and include but not limited to the following information:
- Location, time, date, and cause of death.
- Location, time, date and place of temporary burial. Sometimes this is an isolated grave or unknown location until after the war.
- Documents which detail burial, disinterment, final burial information.
- Handwritten letters from family members.
- Letters from the military, Congressmen, U.S. military organizations to the family.
- Maps, search area testimony and documentation if the soldier was recovered from a crash site or not located immediately.
- Dental and physical charts and information.
- Stateside service training locations and dates.
Myth: Some researchers will tell you a soldier’s Official Military Personnel File (OMPF), also known as the service file, was included in the IDPF. This is incorrect. If your soldier’s file burned in 1973 you will not find a duplicate in his IDPF. Specific details from the OMPF may be included, but not always. It depends on the circumstances of the soldier’s death.
Myth: Everyone hears All the records burned and automatically assumes that means the death files were burned too. This is incorrect. The IDPF was not held at the NPRC during the fire. This record set has actually moved a lot in the last 10 years between repositories to NPRC from Ft. Knox, from Suitland, MD NARA, from AHRC in Alexandria, VA. The only files affected by the fire are 80% of Army and Army Air Force/Air Force OMPFs (service files). Nothing else was affected.
Access of IDPFs for Surnames started with A-L:
The National Archives at St. Louis (same location as the NPRC) has the IDPFs for:
- NAVY and MARINES for the surnames starting with A-L are available to the public at NARA St. Louis.
- In January 2017, the ARMY (should include Air Force) with the surnames starting with A-L will be available to the public.
- Cost is .80 per page with a minimum of $20 charge.
- There is no option at this time for a scanned copy. Paper only.
Request the IDPF
- Hire us to have the IDPF pulled with other records available that NPRC will not search for you. We will provide analysis of the file and records obtained to reconstruct your service member’s history and suggested resources to pursue next. Please see our Research Services for more information. We help people Find the Answers where other military research firms cannot, or choose not to, for their clients.
- Or, download Form 180 and select the box that says OTHER and write in IDPF and wait up to several months to receive the file.
Access of IDPFs for Surnames started with M-Z:
Currently, these files are available through Ft. Knox. Email a FOIA request to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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