When Veteran's Day arrives, I usually think about my Dad and WWII; or
I remember some of my high school classmates who died in Vietnam. But
this year I am remembering Uncle Danny and his knuckle sandwiches.
Daniel McKillip (1930-1968) was a Korean War veteran, and one of my favorite
uncles. He used to give me knuckle sandwiches on the top of my head when
I was about 8 or 10 years old. I did not enjoy this greeting because he
used his left hand, which had been paralyzed in a curled position from
a wound suffered during the war. He didn't realize the strength he had
in those unrelenting knuckles!
Uncle Danny and nearly five million other men and women served in the
Korean War between 1950 and 1953. Approximately 54,000 were killed in
action, and 8,177 are still missing in action. Since the majority of Korean
War veterans are still living, the focus of this article will not be the
traditional genealogical topic of obtaining military records, but rather
how a Korean War veteran can locate a buddy from the war.
Locating Military Buddies
The quest to find military buddies is rapidly becoming a favorite pastime
of veterans. Friendships created in the military, especially during wartime,
are similar to family bonds. The search for a military buddy, therefore,
can be just as important as seeking the whereabouts of a brother or sister.
Finding a military buddy can be frustrating and perhaps impossible if
you do not have enough personal identifiers. Persons with common surnames,
for example, can be difficult to locate unless you have other information
such as an exact birth date, home residence prior to the war, or perhaps
names of parents or siblings.
Assuming you have the full name of your military buddy, and the correct
spelling of the surname, you can do the following:
- A list of Korean War Veterans organizations is on the Internet at
Check out their web site for more information about each of the following
- 2nd Engineer Special Brigade
- 2nd Infantry Division, Korean War Veterans
- 2nd (Indianhead) Division Association
- 21st RCT Assoc., 24 Inf. Division
- 24th Infantry Division Association
- 224th Infantry Regiment Reunions
- 300th Armored Field Artillery Battalion Reunion
- 304 Signal Operation Bn. 8th Army Signal
- 5th Regimental Combat Team Association
- 5th US Calvary Association
- 50th AAA AW Bn. (SP) X-Corps
- 50th AAA AW Bn. (SP) Korean Vets
- 501st ASA Korea 1950-60
- 51st Signal Battalion
- 516th Signal Company - Austria - '49-'55
- 70th Tank Bn Association
- 712th Transportation Railway Operating Battalion
- 8229th Army Unit (Signal Corps)
- Assoc nationale des anciens Des forces francaises de I''ONU et du
regiment de corne (French battalion)
- B Company, 15th Reg., 3rd Inf. Div.
- British Korean Veterans Association
- Colonel Alice Gritsavage Chapter, KWVA
- Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of Korean War Battles
- Det 1, 3rd Air Rescue Seoul Korea
- F-2-5 Korea 1950-1953
Clair Goodblood Chapter, KWVA
- Korea Seabee
- Korea Veterans Association (Canada)
- Korean War Veterans Association
- Korean War Veterans National Museum and Library
- Lone Star Chapter KWVA
- The Mosquito Association, Inc. (6147th TacConGp)
- The Rakkasans, 187th Abn TCT Association
- Second (Indianhead) Division
- South Carolina Korean War
Veterans Memorial Fund
- United #54 Korea Veterans Association of Canada
- Korean War Veterans Association of Western Pennsylvania, Inc.
- Unit 68 KVA Canada
- Korean War was also a European War
- VQ Association
- William R. Charett MOH Chapter KWVA
- Your military buddy may be deceased, as much as you would like to
think otherwise. The Social
Security Death Index (SSDI) is an excellent source to determine
if there may be anyone that fits the profile of the person you are trying
to locate. Keep in mind that the SSDI does not list all deaths;
only those for whom a social security death benefit was paid.
The SSDI is also useful in locating death data on the parents (assuming
you know their names) of the buddy you are researching. The technique
of stepping backward one generation to locate a living person is often
successful. The process works as follows: You do not know the whereabouts
of your military buddy since the war ended in 1953, but you do know
that your buddy's father was named Alfred McBride and lived in Biloxi,
Mississippi. The SSDI lists a man named Alfred McBride, born 1900 (old
enough to be father of your buddy), and died in 1982 in Biloxi, Mississippi.
The odds are good that this Alfred is the father of your war buddy.
You obtain a newspaper obituary of Alfred which confirms your speculation.
The obituary names all the surviving children (including your buddy)
and their places of residence. You now have 1982 data to use in your
search, plus information on siblings.
- If you know where your buddy resided after the war, odds are good
that he filed his discharge papers and/or service record at the local
county courthouse. These records are open to the public and will give
you information about your buddy to help locate him such as his date
of birth, or a "permanent" address that may be a relative. If you obtain
his exact date of birth from the discharge papers, you can return to
the SSDI and see if you find a match. You can also hire a private investigator
who accesses non-public databases and can search for an individual,
using the name and date of birth.
Genealogists are diligent in their military research, particularly the
Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI, and WWII. But have you also documented
your family's participation in the Korean War? Have you interviewed the
Korean War veteran in your family? Uncle Danny died in 1968 when I was
only twenty years old, bringing silence to his memoirs.
That does not have to be the case in your family. Seize the opportunity
now to understand and document your family's participation in what became
known as "The Forgotten War. " One year from now will be the eve of the
50th anniversary of the Korean War. The news media will remember the Korean
War for a few months, but you, as a genealogist, can be certain that the
Korean War veteran in your family is NOT forgotten ever.