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How to Search for Information about Allied POWs held by the Japanese
How to Obtain Medals

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How To Obtain Medals for POWs

1. Check out these links for some basic information:
Obtaining Citations for Military Awards

Obtaining a Veteran's Military Personnel File / Replacement Medals

Alphabetical Index of Recipients of Major U.S. Military Awards

Replacing Lost Military Medals and Decorations

The Ultimate Guide To World War 2 Records
2. Write or email your state representative and send him/her your request. This will put you on the fast track.

A reader had this to say:

The best thing I can advise is to have all your documentation in order. It is vital to have some official document stating that the veteran was a Prisoner of War. I had an original letter from Harry Truman, personally addressed to my dad. I must emphasize the necessity for documenting that the vet was a POW. I would also suggest contacting a local VA office. I worked with their liaison who put me in touch with the county Marine Veterans, which is a private group of volunteers who help people with situations like this. They took care of getting in touch with the Order of the Purple Heart and submitting all the paperwork to the Dept. of Defense.

Information courtesy of Frank Francone:

I was a Philippine Scout in the 57th Inf. Regt in the last few months of 1946. I have become very active in trying to locate familes of former POWs in the Philippines. I have prepared a presentation with the purpose of educating people regarding the sacrifices made by those in the Philippines in 1941-1942. As you may know, Congress passed a resolution awarding a gold medal to those who were involved in the "death march" and in the prison camps. The Congressional medal commendation is available to those who served in the Philippines from Dec 1941 to Dec 1946.

I have prepared charts showing percentage of prisoners who died at the hands of the Japanese, distribution of men from various military units, etc. Beside the presentation, I have spent considerable time using the list of POWs in hopes I can locate their families to make them aware of the commendation by Congress. So far I have located about 50 families and helped them apply for the commendation. None of these families was aware of the commendation.

Info from Roger Mansell


Most eligible veterans are in receipt of their medals. However, you can request replacements if lost. Letter requests are now accepted. Mail written requests to:

National Personnel Records Center
National Archives Records Administration
Attn: NCPMA (Army) / MCPMF (USAF) / NCPMN (Navy, USMC, Coast Guard)
9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63132-5100.

DOD 1348.33M deleted the requirement for any form.


Go to Veteran's Service Records - This is a simple site now and you can request records over the Internet.

If you are not the veteran or next of kin, download form SF-180. This form is needed to make a request for military personnel records or for requesting replacements for a veteran's medals. SF-180 is a PDF file which you can print, complete and mail.


Replace Lost Medals and Awards - Replacement medals are issued by the Government ONLY in cases when no original was issued.


Accreditation Search



NOTE: Peak calling times are weekdays between 10:00 am CST and 3:00 pm CST. Staff is available to take your call as early as 7:30 am and as late as 5:00 pm CST. (TOLL FREE NUMBERS)

RECORDS (Mailing addresses):

1. Claims files for pensions based on Federal military service, 1775-1916, and bounty land warrant application files based on wartime service, 1775-1855
2. Regular Army enlisted personnel serving from 1789 through October 31,1912, and officers serving from 1789 through June 30, 1917.
3. Records relating to persons who served in the Confederate States Army from 1861 through 1865.
4. Volunteer service of persons serving during an emergency and whose
service was considered to be in the federal interest, during the period 1775-1902.
5. Morning Reports, pre-1917
6. Unit operational records, pre-1939
7. Unit rosters, pre-1917
Archives I Textual Reference Branch
National Archives and Records Administration
Washington, D.C. 20408

1. Morning reports, 1917-1974 (In 1974 the Army discontinued the use of morning reports and switched to PDC cards. PDC cards are also in the custody of the NPRC.)
2. Unit rosters, 1917-present, Regular Army
3. Officers separated after June 30, 1917, and enlisted personnel separated after October 31, 1912 Contact:
National Personnel Records Center
9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63132-5100

Unit operational records, 1939-1954, and 1954 to present for units which served in Southeast Asia:

Archives II Textual Reference Branch
National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road - College Park, MD 20740-6001

Unit operational records, 1954-present for units which did not serve in Southeast Asia; Organizational History Files, 1955- 1979:

Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts Office:
SAIS-IDP-F/P, Suite 201
1725 Jefferson Davis Highway
Arlington, VA 22202-4102
DSN 327-3377; (703)-607-3377

Organizational History Files, 1980-present:
Organizational History Branch
U.S. Army Center of Military History (CMH)
102 Fourth Avenue, Bldg. 35
Fort McNair, DC  20319

Unit rosters, 1917-present, Army Reserve:
Army Reserve Personnel Center
9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63132-5200
U.S. Army Reserve Personnel Center
9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63132-5200

Unit Lineages and Honors:
Organizational History Branch
U.S. Army Center of Military History (CMH)
102 Fourth Avenue, Bldg. 35
Fort McNair, DC  20319

Awards for active duty personnel:
Military Awards Branch
Hoffman Building II, 200 Stovall Street, Alexandria, VA 22332-0400
DSN 221-8699; (703) 325-8699

Awards for veterans:
U.S. Army Reserve Personnel Center
Veterans Services Directorate
9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63132-5200

Official photographs, 1861-1988:
Still Picture Branch
Special Archives Division
National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001
(301) 713-6660

Official photographs and videos
Defense Visual Information Center
1363 Z Street Center, March Air Force Base, CA 92518-2727
DSN 348-1505; (909) 413-1505

Motion pictures, 1898 to present:
Motion Picture, Sound & Video Branch
Special Archives Division
National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001
(301) 713-7060

Official papers:
US Army Military History Institute
Carlisle Barracks PA 17013-5008
DSN 242-3611; (717) 245-3611
Official US Army publications

Official publications:
US Army Publications Center
2800 Eastern Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21220-2896
DSN 584-2272; (410) 671-2272

Information concerning flags, colors, streamers, guidons, insignia, & uniforms (AR-840-10):
US Army Institute of Heraldry
9235 Gunston Road, Room S-112, Fort Belvoir, VA 22060-5579
DSN 656-4968/4969; (703) 806-4968/4969

US Army Air Forces records:
US Air Force Historical Research Agency
600 Chennault Circle, Maxwell AFB, AL 36112-6424
DSN 493-5834; (205) 953-5834

Department of Defense Issuances

Manual of Military Decorations & Awards 1348.33

Vol. 1 - General Information, Medal of Honor, and Defense/Joint Decorations and Awards

Vol. 2 - DoD Service Awards – Campaign, Expeditionary, and Service Medals

Includes Eligibility Requirements for PRISONER OF WAR MEDAL (PWM)

Vol. 3 - DoD-Wide Performance and Valor Awards; Foreign Awards; Military Awards to Foreign Personnel and U.S. Public Health Service Officers; and Miscellaneous Information

PURPLE HEART (PH): Eligibility Requirements: Eligibility Criteria: (c) After December 7, 1941, to a Service member who is killed or dies while in captivity as a prisoner of war (POW) under circumstances establishing eligibility for the POW medal pursuant to section 1128 of Reference (f), and section 15, Enclosure 3, Volume 2 of this Manual, unless compelling evidence is presented that shows that the member’s death was not the result of enemy action.


POW. A detained person as defined in Articles 4 and 5 of the Geneva Convention (Reference (aw)) Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War of August 12, 1949. In particular, one who, while engaged in combat under orders of his or her government, is captured by the armed forces of the enemy. As such, he or she is entitled to the combatant’s privilege of immunity from the municipal law of the capturing state for warlike acts that do not amount to breaches of the law of armed conflict. For example, a prisoner of war may be, but is not limited to, any person belonging to one of the following categories who has fallen into the power of the enemy: a member of the armed forces, organized militia or volunteer corps; a person who accompanies the armed forces without actually being a member thereof; a member of a merchant marine or civilian aircraft crew not qualifying for more favorable treatment; or individuals who, on the approach of the enemy, spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces.

Related articles

More POWs now eligible for Purple Heart

By William H. McMichael - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Oct 7, 2008 13:12:48 EDT

An expansion of eligibility criteria could result in retroactive awards of the Purple Heart to prisoners of war who died in captivity and were previously deemed ineligible for the award, the Pentagon announced Monday.

The revised policy allows the retroactive award of the medal to qualifying prisoners of war from Dec. 7, 1941, forward. An estimated 17,000 former service members could be affected by the change, according to the Pentagon’s Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office.

The Purple Heart is awarded to service members who are wounded or killed in combat, an international terrorist attack, during overseas peacekeeping duty, while held as a prisoner of war or while being taken captive.

But the services’ award criteria previously excluded the medal for those who died in captivity if it could not be proved they were wounded or killed by enemy action, Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said.

The revised policy presumes that service members who die in captivity as a “qualifying prisoner of war” died as the “result of enemy action,” the result of wounds incurred “in action with the enemy” or as a result of wounds incurred as a “result of enemy action” during capture, unless there is compelling evidence to the contrary, Lainez said.

The policy revision, “reflects the feeling that the conditions and circumstances of capture and captivity are difficult to document and that for those service members who die in captivity, the department should presume enemy action,” Lainez said.

Prior to making the change, the Pentagon consulted with representatives from the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the Military Order of the World Wars and the American Legion, all of whom said they support the awarding of the Purple Heart to prisoners of war who died while in captivity, Lainez said.

Posthumous awards of the Purple Heart can be made to the deceased service member’s representative, who should apply to the appropriate military service.

Each military department will publish application procedures and ensure accessibility by the general public, the Pentagon says. Family members with questions can contact the services. Army: Military Awards Branch, (703) 325-8700; Navy: Navy Personnel Command, Retired Records Section, (314) 592-1150; Air Force: Air Force Personnel Center, (800) 616-3775; Marine Corps: Military Awards Branch, (703) 784-9340.

Missing Medals Acts - The object of the Missing Medals Act is to correct the present-day Army policy that prevents a number of WWII vets (especially AAF) and the next-of-kin of deceased vets from obtaining the full complement of awards and decorations that are due these of the “Greatest Generation.”

Missing Medals

Applying for a Bronze Star Medal

Information courtesy of John Eakin (Aug. 2015)

Here’s a little information that may be useful to any Bataan veterans or their families who have applied for the Bronze Star Medal and been turned down.

My Cousin, Bud Kelder, was assigned to Sternberg General Hospital in Manila until the war broke out. The personnel of Sternberg and other Manila medical facilities were then reorganized in to the 2nd General Hospital, the jungle hospital on Bataan.

There is an old Department of the Army Pamphlet (which is posted on which awards the Distinguished Unit Citation (now known as the Presidential Unit Citation) to nearly all of the units on Bataan. Everyone who was assigned to those units was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. Somehow the 2nd General Hospital was omitted from the list and Army couldn’t find any orders assigning Bud to Sternberg. We have a government database and letters from him showing that he was at Sternberg for several months, but that’s not good enough for them.

We’re told that the Army awards office would not approve the award although the Army history office said everyone on Bataan was supposed to get the Bronze Star. We had asked Senator Kirk to present the awards and decorations at Bud’s funeral and perhaps for that reason they “decided to make an exception” for Bud and awarded him the BSM. I very much resent that since the evidence is overwhelming that he deserved it without any exception. However, we’re told that now Army is receiving and approving other requests for the Bronze Star from others including from Navy and Marine Corps personnel who fought with Army units on Bataan.

If you know of anyone who fought on Bataan and did not receive the Bronze Star, this is a good time to reapply. The details are on or email me (John Eakin).

Also, if you have a family member who died on Bataan or while a POW and is listed as missing, this is a good time to pursue the return of his remains. We've proven the accuracy of the Cabanatuan Burial Roster which is the key to identifying the remains of more than 1,000 Unknowns who died there.

Whether you want your family member to remain in the overseas cemetery or be returned to the States for burial, they deserve to have their own name on their headstone.

*** Let me know if you find anything out of date or that needs correction. Thanks! ***