Information is current as of 4 June 2022.
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.)
Caution! I have heard from many overseas 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.
Access of IDPFs for Surnames started with A-L:
The National Archives at St. Louis (same location as the NPRC) has the IDPFs for:
- IDPFs for surnames starting with A-L are available to the public at NPRC in St. Louis.
- There is no option at this time for a scanned copy. Paper only and they charge you a fee.
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.
- 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.
- Send NARA a letter stating you wish to have a copy of the IDPF under FOIA. State the individual’s name, branch of service, serial/service number, date of death, and birth date. If you have a common name then you might include a little more identifying information.
National Archives - St. Louis 1 Archives Drive St. Louis, MO 63138 314-801-0800
Access of IDPFs for Surnames started with M-Z:
Currently, these files are in the custody of the Army Human Resource Command at Ft. Knox. You can email a FOIA request to them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Requests as of 4 June 2022 appear to be answered within a month. They will send an email with passcodes to download the files.
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© 2018 (updated 2022) World War II Research and Writing Center
Betty-Lu Burton says
So do you know if the scanned files are easier to obtain? My cousin’s last name is Ducley and therefore according to the above information should already be scanned.
Jennifer Holik says
It depends on how many requests they get and when they enter yours and when they send it out. It will probably still take months.
Will Lindsay says
I placed a request for IDPF’s on 15th August 2015, I am still waiting and check on the status frequently, I have had no replies to my e-mails with regards to the request unfortuantely, My friend also applied within a number of days of my application and is waiting also. The turnaround used to be so quick, so dissapointing.
Jennifer Holik says
You should request the files now through NPRC in St. Louis. IDPFs are now accessible there.
I sent an IDPF request in June 2016. In July 2016, I received the letter confirming receipt of my request, and giving the 48-week statement to retrieve/receive the files. The letter included the website address to check the status of my request. That website address has never worked for me. It always times out before connecting. I have called the number provided in the letter numerous times, and have spoken with someone only ONCE in the entire eleven months I’ve been waiting. I have left messages every time I’ve called, and nobody has ever returned my call. I have no idea what else I can do to get in touch with someone. I spoke with a gentleman this morning at the NPRC, and he’s not showing anything under my phone number regarding any requests from me. I don’t know if it would normally show, since I sent my letter to the U.S. Army Human Resources Command, but he didn’t have anything in his system.
I’m pretty frustrated.
Jennifer Holik says
NPRC received IDPFs A-L late last year and made them available to the public this year. They wouldn’t have information on your correspondence with Ft. Knox AHRC. If you need a file within that range, you can get a copy from NPRC now. M-Z is not available at NPRC yet. You would have to follow up with Ft. Knox again.
Gregory Dansby says
Last week I requested a IDPF or Burial File for an Ancestor killed in WWI from the National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri. An Archive specialist in College Park, MD., forwarded to me a record for my ancestor, Will Sparks a record from the Card Register of Deceased American Soldiers, 1917-1922, from the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774-1985 (Record Group 92). He then suggested that I seek more info from the National Archives at St. Louis and the US Army Human Resources Command: Casualty & Memorial Affairs Operation Division at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Where do you think these records for Will Sparks can be found. Will was born 14 February 1894 in Douglasville, Georgia. Died 28 September 1918 in France with the 372nd Infantry Regiment,93rd Infantry Division (Colored). This Regiment was assigned to the French 157th Infantry “Red Hand” Division. Will was killed 2 days after the start of the Meuse Argonne Offensive in the Champagne Region. Were death certificates issued for WWI dead, if so were would I find them.
Jennifer Holik says
Hello Gregory. I sent you an email about this.
Joe Suarez says
Hi. I am researching soldiers who served in the Philippine Scouts which I assume would be included in these death records. Am I correct?
Are solders in the Philippine Army ( a Commonwealth of the US until 1946) also included?
Ratingen van j says
Hallo ik ben op zoek na meer info over de soldaat die als adoptie heb op de begraafplaats het is singleton charles a Sgt registratie nr . 06934980 413 inf 104 div. Graag hoor ik wat hier over B.v.D John .van Ratingen
Jennifer Holik says
Translated Comment: Hi I’m looking after more info about the soldier who have been adopted at the cemetery it’s singleton charles a sgt registration nr. 06934980 413 inf 104 div. I would like to hear something here about B.v.D John.van Ratingen
John, thank you for visiting my website. Have you contacted the Timberwolf Pup WWII Association? They might have information to help you. There is also a re-enactment group and Timberwolf Museum near Breda you might contact. I visited the museum and spent a day with the re-enactors in 2015 and the museum was very well done. U.S. Archives are still closed so it will be late this year before we can (hopefully) get access to any records. Should you want to hire a researcher, you can check back later this year when we can access records.
Roel Deckers says
I had a question, we adopted a grave of an American hero at the American cemetery in Magraten. Now we are looking for information about this hero, where he fell if there are documents about it. This hero is called Howard Wolfberg. born 04/30/1922 served 84th infantry division. I hope you know a little more about this hero. Sincerely, Roel Deckers.
Jennifer Holik says
Thank you for commenting and asking about the IDPF (Individual Deceased Personnel File) for Howard Wolfberg. You can request this file for free from the AHRC at Ft. Knox. Email them citing a FOIA request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Provide them with Howard’s name, death date, unit, Army Serial Number and your contact information. They have been getting requests taken care of fairly quickly as of late and they will email you a link and password to download the IDPF. If you would like research done beyond that, I do take clients and we can certainly have a Zoom conversation about the fees and what is possible to obtain more information.