In order to assist your research efforts, the Navy Archives Reference Staff has provided the answers to some of the frequently asked questions we receive. Before contacting the Reference Staff, please read through these questions and answers first.
1. How do I get a copy of my service record?
Please see our page on Military and Service Records.
2. How do I get a copy of my ship's deck logs for a VA claim?
Requests for deck logs from the general public must be submitted under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
However, you may find the ship’s Command Operations Report to be useful in substantiating your VA claim. Some of these reports have been digitized and posted to our website on our Command Operations Reports Collectons page.
3. How do I verify that my ship/unit was within 12 nautical miles of Vietnam or that I was in-country?
We have compiled a list of port visits by aircraft carriers deployed to Vietnam, as well as a list of aviation deployments to Vietnam.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a list of U.S. Navy ships that operated in and around Vietnam. The list also includes eligibility for service outside of Vietnam or Korea. Please visit the VA website for more information.
Deck logs from the Vietnam conflict are held by the National Archives in College Park, Maryland. Please note that deck logs rarely mention an individual crew member’s name and do not document activities that occur on shore.
Flight records and passenger manifests are not considered permanent records. Therefore, the Navy does not maintain records of routine flights going into and out of Vietnam.
4. How can I locate a crew list or former crew member?
Please see our Research Guide on Crew Lists and Muster Rolls and the Navy Personnel Research Guide.
5. How do I get a set of replacement medals or a copy of my citation?
The Navy Archives has a collection of individual award citations covering World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, and can provide copies upon request. Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about the availability of citations.
Unit citations and individual citations from later time periods can be requested from the following office:
Chief of Naval Operations DNS-35
2000 Navy Pentagon
Washington, DC 20350-2000
Telephone: (202) 685-1770
Inquiries regarding replacement medals can also be directed to the above address.
6. How can I get assistance researching a topic in naval history?
Unfortunately, due to our limited staffing and resources, the Archives is not able to undertake large-scale research projects.
The Naval History and Heritage Command website contains a vast number of resources relating to various topics in naval history. Please review the Browse by Topic and the Navy Department Library sections of our website prior to contacting us, as they may contain the answer to your question. General research queries should be directed to the Navy Department Library. You also have the option to submit a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for documents on a given subject.
7. What resources are available if I am researching a family member who served in the Navy and want to know more about their service?
The Naval History and Heritage Command does not maintain personnel records. Please see our Navy Personnel Research Guide. You may also wish to consult the National Archives’ genealogy research guide.
If you know which ship or unit your relative served with and the date(s), we may have a Command Operations Report that provides an overview of the unit’s operations. However, these reports rarely mention individuals by name.
8. What is the first, last, longest, oldest, etc.?
The Naval History and Heritage Command often receives "world's record" types of questions dealing with the first, largest, longest, or oldest event, ship, or sailor, etc. Examples of some of these questions are: the longest deployment, the youngest naval aviator, the first African American Navy diver, etc.
Some of these answers may be available on the Naval History and Heritage Command website; however, in many cases, the Navy has never collected the desired data, or organized it in a fashion to readily answer a specific question. To do so at this point would require the Command to conduct extensive examinations of constantly accumulating documents, such as logbooks and personnel files, sometimes from the entire 200+ years of the Navy's history. We do not have the resources to accomplish such large research projects, and regret that we are unable to answer certain questions.