July 08, 2020

World War II Veterans

Written by: Nancy Massey, Indiana Room Coordinator

Although this is at the start of July, September is just around the corner with a special commemoration. On September 2, we will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.

My father and my two uncles all served in World War II.  My father (Navy) and Uncle Art (Army) came home. Uncle Jack (Army Air Corps) perished in a bombing raid over the oil fields of Ploesti, Romania. Uncle Art served in the European theater while my father served in the Pacific.

While the war against Germany in the European theater ended in May 1945 when Germany signed surrender documents, the war against Japan in the Pacific continued to rage. Then on September 2, 1945, Japan officially signed surrender documents abroad the USS Missouri in the presence of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, General Douglas MacArthur.  My father was serving on the USS Moale which was nearby.

As with most World War II veterans, my father did not speak of his service during the war.  It wasn’t until, he knew he was dying and felt a strong need to talk about it that he opened up to me.  I was saddened and horrified to hear about the battles in which his ship was under attack.

After his death, I began to digest his stories and research that time of military service for a family history book.  First, I requested a copy of his service record from the National Archives Personnel Center in St. Louis.  As his daughter, they sent me copies of his service record free of charge. Encouraged by the prompt service, I requested copies of my Uncle Jack’s service records and my father-in-law’s service records.  With those requests, I hit a brick wall. In1973, a massive fire broke out at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The fire destroyed 80% of Army files and 75% of Air Force files.

As I looked at my father’s service record, the list of the battles and campaigns in which he served were just as he told me.  I wanted to know more, so I started researching the ship on which he served: the USS Moale.


I started with Fold3 and searched the WWII War Diaries collection and found a chapter on the ship detailing its war history from its commissioning date to October 1, 1945.  The information detailed and expanded my father’s war stories.  They explained the five bronze campaign stars he was given for his service.

While at Fold3, I discovered the U. S. Navy Muster rolls. One of the rolls was for the commissioning of the USS Moale and my father was listed. He served on that ship until he was discharged from the Navy and came home. There were several more muster rolls to examine.

I moved my search to the military collection at Ancestry Library Edition which is available through remote access right now through the end of July, so hurry if you want search it from home. I found my father’s World War II draft registration.

I invite you to explore Ancestry Library Edition and Fold3 for information on your World War II veteran. Gather the information and the photos and bring them to the genealogy roundtable on September 8 to share them and the stories in honor or in memory of your World War II veteran.  You will need to register for this virtual program to receive a ZOOM invite. I hope to “see” you in September as I am anxious to see your photos and documents and listen to your stories of your WWII veteran.

In short, talk to your WWII veteran now.  Remotely access Fold3 and Ancestry Library Edition and search their military records before the end of July.  Beginning August 1, register to attend the September 8 genealogy roundtable.  On September 8 at 2pm, share your stories, photos, and documents concerning your WWII veteran.  “See” you then!