Posted by Ancestry Team on November 8, 2014 in Collections, Research

This is a post by guest blogger Debbie Mieszala, CGSM.

Is it the Korean War? Or is it the Korean Conflict? Both names are seen in the United States. Some believe that conflict is appropriate because the U. S. never declared war. It has been called “The Forgotten War.”

Ray Royce Deilke

Ray Deilke, US Navy, Boot Leave, July 1943, home sources
Ray Deilke, US Navy, Boot Leave, July 1943, home sources

It was mid-October of 1942, and a war was on. Two days after his 18th birthday, Ray Royce Deilke went from Winona, Minnesota, to Minneapolis to take his oath.[1] Swimming, football, basketball, and tennis were his favorite pastimes. He had worked as a printer for the Winona Republican-Herald. Ray graduated from training in 1943.[2] After completing Aviation Ordnanceman School and Gunnery School, Ray served overseas in World War II. He was an aviation ordnanceman when honorably discharged from the Navy on 26 October 1945.[3]

Ray switched service branches. In 1946 he was a staff sergeant in the Army Air Force’s 3rd Airdrome Squadron. A stocky man with a medium frame, he had excellent posture, and bore a small scar on his forehead.[4]

In 1947, Ray completed an officer’s training school application. His efficiency and character received excellent ratings. He had been an airplane armorer in the Navy. Ray’s civilian work history listed positions held and job descriptions.[5] Ray agreed to serve for two years of active duty if commissioned.[6]

Ray was promoted to technical sergeant in 1949,[7] and was honorably discharged from the Air Force that November.[8] He married in 1950,[9] and became a father by the end of the year.[10]

“Promoted,” The Winona Republican Herald (MN), 15 Feb 1949, p. 3, c. 5, Newspapers.com
“Promoted,” The Winona Republican Herald (MN), 15 Feb 1949, p. 3, c. 5, Newspapers.com

A quarter of U. S. troops in Korea also served in World War II. Ray was sent to Korea, and later transferred to the Philippines.[11]

On 19 December 1950, Ray was a passenger in a military plane that hit Mount Tabayoo in the Philippines and exploded into flames.[12] Three days later, The Winona Republican-Herald reported that Ray was probably aboard the downed plane.[13]

Ray’s recent marriage was not in his records, so his widow was not officially informed of his death for weeks. She received a telegram dated 6 January 1951. The sender asked her to provide the date and place of her marriage, just before offering “sincere sympathy.”[14]

Telegram, USAF to Barbara Deilke, 1951, Minnesota Veterans Affairs Department, Korean War Bonus Beneficiary Records, SAM 159, R
Telegram, USAF to Barbara Deilke, 1951, Minnesota Veterans Affairs Department, Korean War Bonus Beneficiary Records, SAM 159, R

Ray’s widow received a letter from the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force. Hoyt S. Vandenberg wrote:

“Sergeant Deilke was a loyal and trustworthy airman, and all who knew him are saddened by his death.”[15]

Sergeant Deilke Services Saturday, The Winona Republican Herald (MN), 21 Feb 1951, p. 4 c. 4
Sergeant Deilke Services Saturday, The Winona Republican Herald (MN), 21 Feb 1951, p. 4 c. 4

Ray’s mother requested a military marker for his Woodlawn Cemetery grave – bronze, with a Christian emblem.[16]

Ray Deilke, Application for Headstone, 1950, U. S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963, Ancestry
Ray Deilke, Application for Headstone, 1950, U. S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963, Ancestry

His widow applied for a Minnesota Korean War bonus beneficiary payment for his child. A Veterans Service Officer helped gather records needed to prove eligibility, including a certified copy of the telegram notifying her of Ray’s death. The payment was approved.[17]

Of the 1.7 million U. S. troops in Korean War service, more than 8,000 went missing in action; more than 7,500 remain missing. 54,246 deaths were reported, including Ray Deilke.

Ray Deilke’s smile is captured in his photograph on the American Battle Monuments website. Numerous awards reflect his dedication to service.

With resources available, genealogists need not make Korea “The Forgotten War” in their research.

Ancestry Collections

U.S., Korean War Casualties, 1950—1957: Created by combining Department of Defense and Adjutant General’s Office databases, this collection covers fatal and non-fatal casualties, with identifying information, home town, and type of casualty.

U.S., Korean War Prisoners of War, 1950—1954: Department of Defense and Veterans Administration databases combine in this database. Name, rank, serial number, birth date, and information on capture and interment are found.

World War II and Korean Conflict Veterans Interred Overseas:  This database of burials outside of the contiguous United States includes almost 160,000 entries from World War II and Korea. It originated in National Archives Record Group 330.

WWI, WWII, and Korean War Casualty Listings: This collection’s source is American Battle Monuments Commission data. Names from American cemeteries in foreign countries, and on memorials and monuments are included. Almost 32,000 Korean War casualties are included.

New York Southern District Court, Korean War Military Naturalization Index, 1950-1955:  This database indexes New York Southern District Korean War veteran naturalizations. Some aliens who served were allowed an accelerated naturalization process.

Some collections with a broad scope include Korean War veterans, including these:

U.S. Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925—1963: This collection originated with NARA’s Record Group 92. Applications include name, birth and death dates, service dates, rank, cemetery, type of marker, and the signature and relationship of the applicant.

U. S. Veterans Gravesites, ca. 1775 – 2006: Check for veterans and dependents buried in national, veterans, or military cemeteries. Find names, birth, death, and burial dates, and service information.

U. S., National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928—1962: Originating with Record Group 92, control forms for lots in national cemeteries show name, dates of birth, death, and burial, service information, and next of kin.

Stars and Stripes Newspaper, Pacific Editions, 1945—1963: National Archives M1624 is this database’s source. The newspaper printed an edition for troops in Korea.

Other Resources

The Korean War Project offers an array of information, documents, resources, and an archive of digitized Army and Marine Corps records.

For a visual guide, the Army Center for Military History offers digitized Korean War maps.

The Defense Prisoner of War Missing Personnel Office website explains U. S. government efforts to account for Americans who remain missing – over 7,500 in Korea alone. Check fact sheets, a POW/MIA list, and maps.

The American Battle Monuments Commission has a Korean War Veterans Memorial Honor Roll and a burial search.

Fold3 has Korean War databases, and a free Medal of Honor Recipients, 1863—2013 database.

Some states paid Korean War bonuses to veterans or benefits to their survivors. Check state archives for bonus records.

Records

The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis holds military and civilian personnel records.  Personnel records are federal or archival. Federal records are restricted and only available to the veteran or their next-of-kin.  Archival records are open to the public. Records move to archival status 62 years after a veteran separated from the military. New records become publicly available each year.  An Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) includes paperwork on training, awards, and separation. Those with service in multiple service branches have an OMPF for each branch. View archival OMPFs in person or order them using Standard Form 180. A 1973 fire caused record losses. An estimated 16—18 million Army and Air Force personnel records were damaged or destroyed, representing perhaps 80% of Army records and 75% of Air Force records.

The National Archives at St. Louis has Morning Reports and Unit Rosters. They can prove military service for those with burned files. Command Reports are at National Archives II in College Park, Maryland.

Check for photographs, graduation programs, certificates, diaries, letters, and discharge papers at home. They provide details that form the backbone for future research.

This post is part of our Veterans Day series highlighting American service members that helped shape our great country. Follow the series each day from November 5-11, 2014.


[1] Ray Royce Deilke, Notice of Separation from U S. Naval Service, 1945, Official Military Personnel File, NPRC, St. Louis, Missouri.

[2] Ray R. Deilke, Program of Graduation Exercises, USNATTC, 26 June 1943, in possession of Ray Deilke’s child.

[3] Ray Royce Deilke, Notice of Separation.

[4] Ray Royce Deilke, Report of Physical Examination, 1947, Official Military Personnel File, NPRC, St. Louis, Missouri.

[5] Ray Royce Deilke, Application for Entrance to Officer Training School, 1947, Official Military Personnel File, NPRC, St. Louis, Missouri.

[6] Ray Royce Deilke, certificate, 1947, Official Military Personnel File, NPRC, St. Louis, Missouri.

[7] “Promoted,” The Winona Republican Herald (MN), 15 Feb 1949, p. 3, c. 5.

[8] Ray Royce Deilke, honorable discharge certificate, 1949, in possession of Ray Deilke’s child.

[9] Ray Royce Deilke, marriage record, 1950, Minnesota Korean War Bonus Beneficiary Records, SAM 159, roll 4, Minnesota Historical Society.

[10] Ray Royce Deilke, Minnesota Korean War Bonus Beneficiary Records.

[11] Western Union Telegram, 6 Jan 1951, to Mrs. Deilke from E H. Underhill, Korean War Bonus Beneficiary Records. Letter from USAG to Mrs. Deilke, 10 Jan 1951, original in possession of Ray Deilke’s child.

[12] Western Union Telegram, 6 Jan 1951, to Mrs. Deilke from E H. Underhill, Minnesota Korean War Bonus Beneficiary Records. Letter from USAG to Mrs. Deilke, 10 Jan 1951, original in possession of Ray Deilke’s child.

[13] “Winona Soldier Probably Aboard Wrecked Plane,” The Winona Republican-Herald (MN), 22 Dec 1950, p. 3 c. 6.

[14] Western Union Telegram, 6 Jan 1951, to Mrs. Deilke from E H. Underhill, Minnesota Korean War Bonus Beneficiary Records.

[15] Letter from USAF to Mrs. Deilke, 1951, in possession of Ray Deilke’s child.

[16] Ray Deilke, Application for Headstone, 1950, “U. S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963,” online database and images, Ancestry.com (http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2375 : accessed 6 November 2014).

[17] Ray Royce Deilke, Minnesota Korean War Bonus Beneficiary Records.

Debbie Mieszala, CGSM,specializes in forensic genealogy, 20th-century research, and the Midwest. She has taught at SLIG, IGHR, and GRIP. Debbie is a trustee of the Board for Certification of Genealogists. Visit her at http://advancinggenealogist.com/.

5 Comments

  1. Denise

    My father Allen John Wallace Hietala was in the Korean War when in the Army. He died on February 11, 2011. He lived in Aurora, MN most of his life.

  2. Cathy Little

    My oldest brother was in the Korean War. I’m having hard time finding anything about his service. I was only 5 years old when he came home and no one in the family ever talked about it.

  3. Anne

    Great article. Thanks for the info, you made it easy to understand. BTW, if anyone needs to fill out a form 180 download, I found a blank fillable form here. This site PDFfiller also has some tutorials on how to fill it out and a few related tax documents that you might find useful.

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