How to Get Your Father's War Medals
Medals earned during military service are not only important to service members, but also to their families. If you have a loved one who served in the Armed Forces, you can easily obtain information about any awards, medals or badges he received during his time in service.
Once you know which commendations your loved one earned, it is easy to buy replacement medals for display or as a gift.
Check old records for a copy of the DD 214, the record of separation from active duty service. This document will list any awards, badges, citations or medals that the service member received.
Fill out Form SF 180, available at www.archives.gov, to request a DD 214, if you don't have one. Alternatively, you can request the paperwork through the eVetRecs service (also accessible at archives.gov), as long as you are either the service member or the next of kin. You will need the full name, social security or service number, birthdate and as much information as you can provide about the time of service.
Make a list of awards, using the DD 214. Visit a military surplus store, online military retailer or a Clothing and Sales store on any military base to purchase the correct medals.
- If you don't have all of the information required on the forms, fill out as much as you can. Enclose a letter detailing everything you know about the service member, including duty stations, assignments, length of service and dates of service. Mail this to:
- National Personnel Records Center
- Military Personnel Records
- 9700 Page Avenue
- St. Louis, MO 63132-5100
- Mount the medals in a specially-designed display case that can be purchased at the same store as the medals. If the service member is deceased, you can display the medals alongside the flag that draped the coffin.
- You should receive a response in about 10 business days. However, some requests take longer, especially if you do not have all of the basic information about the service member. Some records were destroyed in a 1973 fire, so information must be compiled from other sources.
- There is usually no fee to access these records, as long as you are the next of kin. Beware of companies that try to charge you for this information.