Getting your Decorations

The key to getting the awards you never received, or in replacing ones lost over the years, is your DEPARTMENT of DEFENSE FORM 214. This all-important piece of paper should have been given you at the time of your discharge or separation from active duty. The form should have been registered at the courthouse serving your place of permanent residence (when I got out of service, we had to do this within 15 days). If your DD 214 was registered, you can always get a copy of it by visiting or writing the courthouse where it was registered. Otherwise, you'll have to write the military records center in St. Louis to get a copy. On the DD Form 214 should be listed your medals and decorations. If you want the medals and awards that are listed on your DD Form 214, write to one of the following addresses and request them (they are free of charge):

Note: The report of separation form issued in most recent years is the DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. Before January 1, 1950, several similar forms were used by the military services, including the WD AGO 53, WD AGO 55, WD AGO 53-55, NAVPERS 553, NAVMC 78PD, and the NAVCG 553."

9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63132

Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, USPHS:

National Personnel Records Center
9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63132

Both places have the same street address, but be sure to address your envelope exactly as it is shown above for your particular service. The record center is a huge place and your request for action is going to take months as it is. Don't create extra time for yourself by sending a letter that might wander around a number of desks before it reaches someone who can actually act on it. There is always a huge backlog of requests, so expect a long wait. No special form is required, but be sure to include the following information neatly and prominently in your letter:

Your full name

Social Security number

Service number (if you served before 1970)

Date and place of birth
Approximate dates of service
Medals and decorations requested