It has been 100 years since the U.S. entered World War I. As we move through this 100th year, many people are beginning to investigate their World War I soldier’s history. A lot of people think all the records burned, as was the case with many World War II personnel files. While the fire did destroy some World War I files, there are still so many other records you can obtain.
Last week I wrote an article about U.S. Army Transports. These USAT transported both living soldiers and the dead. My great grand uncle, Michael Kokoska was one such soldier. Did you know that all soldiers, sailors, and Marines who died in World War I have a Burial File? This is the World War I equivalent of the World War II Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF).
The Burial File contains information on a soldier’s death, temporary burial overseas, correspondence from the family, and final burial details. Michael Kokoska’s contains a lot of handwritten letters from his parents begging for word on his burial location and return of his remains. The letters are heart breaking. There is also a document, written a year after Michael died, about the cause of his death. Is this really what happened? Perhaps. For now it is all I have to go on about the cause of his death. While Michael’s file was difficult and sad to read, it provided a lot of information on his service. This is one file you want if your soldier, sailor, or Marine died during the war.
View the Burial File for Michael Kokoska. Watch a short video about Michael.
Would you like to know more about Michael and his life? In my book, Stories of the Lost, you can read Michael’s full story.
The Burial Files, Morning Reports, Payroll Reports, and more are held at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis. Would you like help obtaining these and other records available for World War I? Please contact us for details on how we can help you.
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Jim McLoughlin says
Excellent article, and very useful. Also learned a lot from the USAT article.
I am not researching any relatives, rather I am researching the service of the thirteen men from my small Massachusetts town who died in service during WW1. Given my lack of status as a relative/next of kin, am I unable to access the records of these men?