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Yankee Air Pirates

USAF Uniforms and Memorabilia of the Vietnam War

Digging the past: if only this stuff could talk!

Posted on December 23 2013 by François Millard

Digging the past: if only this stuff could talk!

Researching the original owners of the items shown in Yankee Air Pirates might have been the most interesting and rewarding aspects of the preparation of the project.

Internet is a wonderful resource and while crossing data, we managed to go deeper into the individual identifications. A website such as militaryusa.com offers a good start for primary research. Then, with luck and patience, one can often find articles about an airman, sometimes citations about a medal awarded or detailed unit history, including the full names of the men assigned. Some veterans still have important positions in the U.S. administration, some became famous in their civilian lives. Some others sadly passed away and obituaries can be helpful as well. And of course, relatives are also one of the main resources. However, names such as Miller, Johnson, Taylor, Smith and Brown are the most difficult to research, and often lead to dead ends.

The most exciting information often arrives with the postman, in the mailbox. From time to time, white or ochre envelops are either leading to further inquiries when the response inside is negative, or do fill the gaps. Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act of 1974, one can get limited access to military records. Generally a resume of the assignments and education can be released, along with some citations. It is obviously subject to strict rules and restrictions imposed by the military services consistent with Department of Defense regulations and the provisions of the two acts mentioned above. The excellent job performed by the National Personnel Records Center at Saint Louis, MO, must be acknowledged. Of course, answers are not immediate, it can sometimes take months. Nonetheless their work is priceless and a wonderful resource for history lovers. A huge “thank you” to them for their support.

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