Lesson 8: Vietnam War Era Records


One of the most controversial military conflicts involving United States military troops is what is known as the Vietnam War. There were 58,320 American lives lost in this “undeclared war,” whose purpose was to preserve a separate, non-communist government in South Vietnam. America ultimately went through its forces without having effected a victory, and many of the military service personnel suffered from the lack of finality and closure of accomplishing a definitive defeat.

As with the World War II and Korean War military service records, it would be appropriate to consult with the Selective Service Administration for draft registration and selection records that may provide helpful information. In addition, the fire at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in 1973 discussed in earlier lessons may or may not have affected records from this era. It would, therefore, be encumbered on you to file a request for information using the guidelines described in the website at https://www.archives.gov/personnel-records-center/military-personnel. It would be a good idea before filing your request to call the NPRC to determine precisely what records from the Vietnam War era exist and are held there. You may be referred elsewhere, particularly to the headquarters of the military branch in which your ancestor served.

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