History: My Favorite Veteran

Recently, I was told that if I wanted a comprehensive set of military records (available to civilians) for my Dad, that I should reach out to the National Archives and request them. I had no idea that was where I should look for his information. I went online, did the paperwork and about two months later an amazing manila envelope full of papers arrived. They detail his enlistment, his training, an award he received and various other identifying career data like locations where he served. I am attempting to look up as much information on each of the pages as I can, to better understand his military life. If you are interested in requesting military records (I HIGHLY recommend it), this is the link:

https://www.archives.gov/personnel-records-center/military-personnel/ompf-archival-requests

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For this blog, I will cover the Enlistment Record – Armed Forces Of the United States, DD Form 4

This paperwork is from Lackland AFB. Lackland is best known for its role in being the sole location for U.S. Air Force enlisted Basic Military Training (BMT) for the active duty Regular Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard. BMT is organized into nine basic training squadrons, each with their own training site on the base. Each squadron is equipped with either a dining facility or a medical clinic. Some BMT squadrons share dining facilities if they are located close enough together and the same is true for medical clinics. Each squadron also has a specific exercise area where basic trainees conduct physical readiness training (PRT). Also, AFOSI anti-terrorism teams are trained here.

Located in Bexar, Texas, this base was named Lackland Army Air Field in 1946 for Gen. Frank D. Lackland, an early commander of Kelly Field. After separation of the United States Air Force from the U. S. Army in 1948 it became Lackland Air Force Base.  

Dad’s Service Number was AF 13 710 162. A little history on the Air Force’s service numbers: The first regulation of Air Force service numbers applied to numbers held by Air Force officers. In 1947, thousands of officers had automatically transferred from the Army Air Forces into the Air Force, with over a third of this number inactive members of the Officer Reserve Corps. The first Air Force officer service numbers ranged from 1 to 19,999 and were reserved for Regular Air Force officers who had “crossed over” to the United States Air Force

A complication to early service number issuance was that some senior Air Force officers (such as Henry H. Arnold) chose to simply retain their Army service numbers and did not apply for a new Air Force service number. Thus, the earliest Air Force officer service number was #4 which was assigned to Hoyt Vandenberg. Numbers one through three were apparently never issued.

After the initial issuance of the first Air Force officer service numbers, the service numbers were increased with the second range extending from 20 000 to 99 999. These numbers were set aside for past, present, and future Regular Air Force officers with this range being used from 1948 until the discontinuation of Air Force service numbers in 1969. After 1969, the Air Force converted to Social Security numbers for service member identification.

The service number range of 11 000 000 to 19 000 000 (Dad’s was 13 710 162) was used by Regular Air Force in the same manner as the Army, in that these numbers were reserved for Regular Air Force personnel, who had enlisted from inside the United States, with the first two numbers a geographical code and the last six a personal identifier. The geographical codes for the Air Force were the same as the Army and recruiting stations had instructions to avoid repeat service numbers and to ensure that no service number was issued by both the Army and the Air Force.

The prefix for Dad was AF which signaled it was used by male enlisted personnel. The geographic code “13” was designated to: Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Entry #7 states that Dad’s place of enlistment was Baltimore, Maryland. So many questions on this one. Why did Dad enlist there? I know as a kid he had wanted to play baseball in Baltimore but family obligations saw him working immediately and not pursuing dreams.

For more information on National Personnel Records, here is the site to look: https://www.archives.gov/personnel-records-center

When Congress passed the Selective Service Act in 1948, it required the Department of Defense to develop a uniform screening test to be used by all of the services.This was the first iteration of the AFQT, 100 multiple choice questions, with each branch of the service setting its own standards for minimum required scores. The DoD refined the test, standardizing it across all the branches during the 1960s.

AFQT = Armed Forces Qualification Test. In present-day, this score would be used to determine whether you can join the military of your choice, each branch having its own minimum score.

I am trying to track down greater detail on his AFQT scores. As I find that, I will blog in greater detail.

His enlistment date for the Regular Air Force is 6 Jan 61 with four years as the intended length of service. At this point he was single and had no dependents. He completed 8 years of grammar school and 4 of high school. He had been working as a Baker’s Helper for 6 months, earning an average weekly wage of $45. This is another one of those “I wish I had more information” items. My Uncle could not recall Dad working in a bakery.

His selective service board was LBE 3 Fayetteville, W/VA which would be the closest to his home in West Virginia.

I love to see his handwriting, how it remained the same over the decades. I also enjoy finding out and understanding his Service to a greater degree. There are several other forms and pages I received. I will cover each in individual blogs and then I will do a follow up blog on additional details I have found along the way.

I hope you enjoyed the read (and a little AF history). If you knew Dad, I always love to hear stories. If you would like to suggest research options for Air Force military records, I love hearing that too! Either way, thanks for taking this journey with me.

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