Military Service Records, Awards, and Unit Histories: A Guide to Locating Sources [August 7, 2018] [open pdf - 794KB]
"The Military Personnel Records division of the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), a component of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) located in St. Louis, Missouri, holds most existing U.S. military personnel, health, and medical records of discharged and deceased veterans of all services from World War I to the present. Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) records may be requested online at https://www.archives.gov/veterans/militaryservice-records, by mail (the appropriate address listed on the back of the form), or fax (314-8019195) using the Standard Form 180. Veterans and their next-of-kin (NOK) may request these records. According to the NPRC, for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, the NOK is defined as the unremarried widow or widower, son, daughter, father, mother, brother or sister; for the Army, the NOK is defined as the surviving spouse, eldest child, father or mother, eldest sibling or eldest grandchild."
CRS Report for Congress, RS21282