How to Find Where My Grandpa Served in the U.S. Marines & the Korean War

military image by Alexey Klementiev from

The Korean War began in June 1950 and continued through July 1953. The Marines, known as "America's 911 Force," are often the first on a scene. According to the Marines website, their role in the Korean War started with a surprise attack at Inchon Landing, when Gen. Douglas MacArthur used Marine amphibious forces to reclaim South Korea's occupied capital, Seoul. If you do not know where your veteran served during this conflict, you can find military service information in several places.

Step 1

Compile all of the information possible about your grandfather, or other relative, and his service in the Marines. Essential information includes the complete name used while in service, date and place of birth, service number, Social Security number, branch of service and dates of service. Talk to your parents or others who might know about the veteran's service.

Step 2

Visit the National Archives website (see Resources) and complete a Service Record Request for an official record. The National Archives holds service records for veterans serving from World War I to the present. A copy of the records will be sent to you for free. You can complete the online form or the paper version, known as Standard Form 180 (SF-180). If you are not the veteran or next-of-kin, you must use the SF-180. The Report of Separation (DD Form 214) and other key documents are the most common records obtained through the request. Submit a follow-up request for additional documents if you want every document in a veteran's file.

Step 3

Visit the Marines website (see Resources) for unit histories. If you do not know the Marine unit your veteran served in, or just want to know the locations where his unit served, the Marines directory lists each unit and its headquarters as well as service type. Click on the unit name to view that unit's history, service locations and awards.

Step 4

Visit the National Archives for lists of casualties if your veteran was wounded or died in the Korean War. The Archives also hosts several databases and projects regarding this conflict.