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How to find General Orders for research

Discussion in 'Military Service Records & Genealogical Research' started by JZResearch, Jun 20, 2017.

  1. JZResearch

    JZResearch New Member

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    I have been researching my grandfather's military service in ww2 but I have hit a lot of dead ends. My next step is to research the general orders. He was in the AAF as an engineer in the Pacific. They are as follows

    Central Pacific: Par 3 GO 6 Hq Sept 44
    Eastern Mandates: GO 2 Feb 45
    Western Pacific: affidavit July 1945

    Just looking for information on how General Orders are set up (are there GOs for specific units or is it a broader span, are they separate from Navy, Marines Etc?). Also how could I find these?
    Any info helps thanks.
     
  2. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    The Air Force Historical Center may be able to help you there.
     
  3. KMZgirl

    KMZgirl Member

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    I ran into "AAF" on some of my father's paperwork. Apparently, in his case, it meant American Army Forces. Here is an excerpt from the CBI-history website:

    In order to eliminate the possibility of confusing the abbreviation AAF (American Army Forces) with the abbreviation of Army Air Forces (AAF),it became accepted practice to use United States Army Forces, China, Burma and India (USAF CBI). (ed: HQ AAF CBI was redesignated HQ USAF CBI by 12 September 1942.)

    Was your grandfather American Army Force or Army Air Force? I'm curious about finding GO's myself. Thanks for asking a good question.
     
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  4. Manila84

    Manila84 New Member

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    My experience with GOs has been that they are organized by headquarters units, but usually at a very high level.

    I just visited a previous thread you started and have a better understanding of the brick wall you've hit. I myself have been in exactly the same spot for some time now. I have two suggestions...

    The first - just to rule it out - is to ask a researcher in St. Louis to pull the morning reports for the last unit your grandfather served in. I don't know if these were kept by stateside units, but it's at least worth a shot. It may reveal where your grandfather transferred in from. Golden Arrow Research has been a great resource for this, and he usually charges about 50 bucks to check the records.

    If that doesn't work, there is another route to go down that can be quite frustrating but might help a bit.

    You can look at the post-war GOs issued by the War Department that provide a comprehensive list of ALL units (Army and Army Air Forces) credited with any given campaign. This would give you, for example, a complete list of all engineer-type units throughout the war in the theaters you are looking for.

    The problem with such an approach is that often, at least for my grandfather, no single unit may match your grandfather's his entire overseas history. He may have transferred at some point. Or perhaps been attached to a unit temporarily and received campaign credit, but never belonged to them. It's a hard road to go down, but at least it's something.

    If you're interested, I can send you the GOs I found via internet searches a while back. The files are large (18MB+) and I could also probably try to reconstruct the sites I found them from, but might take some time.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2017
  5. ColHessler

    ColHessler Member

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    Good to know. Thanks.
     
  6. Buten42

    Buten42 Member Patron  

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    Good information about the different AAF definitions, this could easily send a researcher down a completely wrong path. I learned something, thanks.
     
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  7. JZResearch

    JZResearch New Member

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    Yeah, I purchased WWII Order of Battle by Stanton and went through every single engineer aviation unit to see where they served and what campaigns they were credited for. The only unit that really sticks out is the 804th EAB however the eastern mandates campaign medal my grandfather was awarded was not awarded to that unit. Everything else fits, including the places he stated he was at, Makin, Saipan and the Gilbert's. So, I am just looking for some kind of verification. I also contacted the st Louis records office and have verified that my grandfather's records were one destroyed in the fire. I acquired his final pay voucher and it lists the same info. Does any one know how I would be able to get information on the 3705th AAF Base unit he was discharged from? I literally have found not one iota of information on them except that lowrey was their home during the war. If anyone has any ideas on other ways to find out what unit my grandfather transferred from when heading to the 3705th stateside I would be grateful to hear it. Also, is there any way that he could have been with the 3705th unit throughout the war and still get campaign medals as some form of a civilian or reserve duty? Thank you all for the info.
     
  8. Manila84

    Manila84 New Member

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    If you are confident and are willing to essentially wager a little cash on it, the only way to be 100% sure is to pay a researcher in St. Louis (or fly there yourself) to look up the rosters and/or the daily morning reports of the 804th and all its subordinate units for the duration of the war (although they'd probably start around the date your grandfather returned to the States and work backwards). Finding his name in this kind of paperwork is the only way that I know of to confirm with absolute confidence that he served in a given unit. Could be done for less than 100 bucks.

    In terms of your confidence in the 804th - to the degree it derives from Stanton, I don't have his book but was under the impression he focused on ground forces. So I'm assuming his order of battle doesn't include all service units (big example would be signal units or transport/supply units, which are not mentioned in any synopses I've read). Although it sounds like you have some additional information that led you to engineer aviation battalions to begin with.
     
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  9. KMZgirl

    KMZgirl Member

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    Less than $100 bucks?! I had no idea this could be done so cheaply???
     
  10. Manila84

    Manila84 New Member

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    Yes, it can actually be very reasonable if you know which unit you're searching. I've worked with Gold Arrow Research for several years for different tasks.

    For my first project, I had my grandfather's unit from his discharge paperwork. For $75, I got several months of morning reports and various documents he was listed in that helped trace his day to day activities. If the documents had gone back further, it would have cost me more, but not exorbitant amounts.

    Even if the person you're looking for doesn't end up turning up in a given unit, Geoff (at Golden Arrow) has been willing to search a span of time and give you a yes/no to finding your person for around $50.

    Hehe, my costs have only added up because I've been doing the latter for a period of several years now....
     
  11. KMZgirl

    KMZgirl Member

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    Thank you, that is good to know. Several years back, I was given a quote of $900, so I didn't do it. Of course I didn't know what to ask for at the time. Now I do. Did t think about doing it in increments. Thanks!
     
  12. Manila84

    Manila84 New Member

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    JZResearch, if the 804th doesn't pan out...you actually may still be in a pretty lucky spot. I just checked and there are not many units given Eastern Mandates credit. I've attached the list according to the GOs from 1946. Compared to the other campaigns, this is actually a digestible number of units to consider, filter out the ones that DEFINITELY do not apply, and then proceed to possibly request morning report searches for the real true possibilities. If he's in one of these and you get the reports, you may be able to track forward and backward the units he transferred into and out of.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 12, 2017
  13. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Regarding "AAF", the official title was United States Army Air Force.
     
  14. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner) Patron  

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    Minor quibble - Army Air Forces
     
  15. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Okay, report me to the grammar Klingons. :cool:
     
  16. KMZgirl

    KMZgirl Member

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    The reference source I copied and pasted listed ithem as plural. I did not. The important thing to remember is that AAF is not always Air Force. In my father's case on his paper work, it meant American Army Force. I'm not sure if this was the case in all theaters. It was in the CBI.
     
  17. JZResearch

    JZResearch New Member

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    Manilla84, thank you for posting that. That is great information. I am currently working with Geoff from golden arrow to get my grandfather's pension claim file. I'm hoping to get something back in the next couple of weeks/months. I will most certainly go down the eastern mandates track, assuming the pension file is a dead end like everything else has bee . I was reading a bit of the jargon before the units listed on the GO. Does this list include non combatant participants? My grandfather got bronze stars not arrows on his Asiatic medal, which I was told signifies he didn't see battle. This is confirmed with conversations with my grandfather before he passed.

    Also thanks for the info on researching individual units daily reports through a researcher. I didn't know that was possible and will look into that as well. Again thanks all for the replies.
     
  18. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    It was established as Headquarters, American Army Forces, China, Burma, India and abbreviated as HQ AAF CBI on 4 March 1942 and redesignated as HQ USAF CBI (Headquarters, U.S. Army Forces, China, Burma, India) on 12 September 1942, specifically to end the confusion with Army Air Forces (AAF). It was the case specifically only in the CBI and only for that six-month period.
     
  19. JZResearch

    JZResearch New Member

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    Also,
    I have a letter from the army given after the war that lists that he drove dump trucks in the building of airfields and was an automotive mechanic that worked on, heavy machinery and command cars, checked hydraulic systems and installed unit replacements . I have been searching for EABs but maybe this type of work was handled by a different type of unit?
     
  20. Manila84

    Manila84 New Member

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    No problem, Geoff is a great resource. And yes, to the extent of my knowledge, these GOs are the most comprehensive list of Army (and Army Air Forces) units given campaign credit - including ground forces and service units.

    Re: 'Combat' and Service Stars...I would not discount the possibility that your grandfather saw and/or experienced combat, even though he may have served in a role many of us would consider to be 'noncombatant'. Yes, arrowheads on his medal (instead of the service stars he got) would have denoted an assault landing, combat parachute jump, or combat glider landing But while your grandfather likely was not in any of the units on the initial beach landings, that doesn't mean that much...the military cemeteries are littered with headstones of men who came in the second waves and later. Moreover, many of the initial assault landings were unopposed, with more intense fighting happening for months after the beginning of the campaign. Japanese air raids did not distinguish whether a man was in the ground troops or the service units.

    Per Federal Regulation § 578.49, just to get the Asiatic-Pacific Medal by itself without any service stars, your grandfather would have needed to either:
    1. Been on permanent assignment in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater; or
    2. Been in a passenger status or on temporary duty for 30 consecutive days or 60 nonconsecutive days; or
    3. Been in active combat against the enemy and was awarded a combat decoration or furnished a certificate by the commanding general of a corps or higher unit or independent force showing that he actually participated in combat.
    Sounds like definitely (1) applies, but obviously we don't know for sure whether he engaged directly in combat (3).

    BUT...the fact that he did receive three service stars definitely puts him in combat zones. Per § 578.48 - in order to qualify for a campaign service star, he must have been:
    1. Assigned or attached to, and present for duty with, a unit during the period in which it participated in combat; or
    2. Under orders in the combat zone and in addition was either (a) awarded a combat decoration, (b) furnished a certificate by a commanding general of a corps or higher unit or independent force that he actually participated in combat, (c) serving at a normal post of duty, or (d) aboard a vessel other than in passenger status and furnished a certificate by the home port commander of the vessel that he served in a combat zone; or
    3. An evadee or escapee in the combat zone or recovered from a prisoner-of-war status in the combat zone during the time limitations of the campaign.
    At a minimum, he probably qualified under (2).

    If you ever do find his unit, you might be surprised at the action he saw. Case in point - my grandfather passed away a few years ago and sadly I really didn't try to find his unit until after he was gone. My whole life, he rarely spoke of the war and said only that he was in a signal unit that set up the communications for the Air Forces Only ever fired his weapon into the trees once, he told the family. Well, it turns out that once I got his paperwork, his Philippine Liberation Medal service star indicates he was under fire or air attack at some period. Moreover, he had a Combat Infantryman Badge which (while incorrectly given to him...since he wasn't in an infantry MOS) was probably associated with some direct engagements.
     
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