Find Your Servicemember

Find Your Servicemember

Selecting an individual to research is the first step in this journey. You can do this as a class or individually. Some teachers like to pick a person from the students’ hometown or state to help make the connection more personal. Some teachers let the students pick the name from a short list provided. Do what works best for you and your students.

The best places to look for names is the American Battle Monuments Commission website or the National Cemetery Administration website.

Teacher tip: Students may use either the American Battle Monument Commission (ABMC) OR the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) website but not both. The ABMC site lists the names of service members buried or memorialized in US military cemeteries overseas. The NCA site lists the names of service members buried in U.S. National Cemeteries within the US (with the exception of Arlington National Cemetery

Teaching Toolkit

To use the American Battle Monument Commission site

  • Provide students with a copy of the Using ABMC Website Handout to serve as a guide.

  • Have students go to the American Battle Monuments Commission’s database website and click on “Search ABMC Burials.”

  • Select “World War II” in the War/Conflict column.

  • Select their home state in the “Entered service from.”

  • Select other criteria they may wish to search with like “Unit,” “Cemetery/Memorial,” or “Branch of Service” which can help to narrow down the number of possibilities.

  • Search through the names of the several soldiers that appear. Students can click on the last name to get more detailed information on the person, including rank, unit, date of death, awards, etc.

  • A Sample Service Member Report is provided that will aide students in deciphering the information provided on their selected soldier.

  • Be sure to have the students copy down the “Service #” of one soldier, as this will assist them later on in their research.

For using the National Cemetery Administration site

  • Provide each student with a copy of Using the NCA Website Handout and the Sample Service Member Report.

  • Proceed to the online National Cemetery Administration Nationwide Gravesite Locator. Using the NCA Website Handout can serve as a guide.

    • Select a cemetery using the pull-down menu – perhaps use a cemetery located in your home state. Students may also leave it at “all” to search nationwide.

    • Select under the “Last Name” menu at least one letter of the alphabet. Students need to have at least something in this box to get any hits.

    • Instruct students to try using any year from 1941 through 1945 under “Date of Death,” as these are the years service member would have perished from World War II.

    • Click “Go.”

  • Search through the names of the several service members that appear.

  • Teacher tip: Please note that this database will locate all those buried between 1942 and 1945. This will include veterans from previous conflicts as well as spouses or dependent children who died during these years. It is important to help students cross-reference clues (age, names) to help determine that they are indeed finding someone who died in service during World War II.

  • Ask students to select one service member and write down that person’s rank, date of birth and death, and plot information as this will assist them later in their research.