Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Won't You Help Me Honor This Veteran?

One of the true treasures my cousin M.E. has shared with me is her large collection of family holy cards, aka funeral cards. And on this Veteran's Day I'd like to share with you one card in particular from that collection in hopes that someone will be able to advise me on how best to get information on this person's military service.
I believe that Chester Louis Lipa may be my third cousin once removed. The fact that his holy card was in the possession of M.E.'s mother and shares our Lipa surname in common leads me to believe there is a family connection. I'm working on getting confirmation on just what that connection is.

In the mean time, I'd like to know more about Chester's military service. I have very limited experience in military records research. I'm wondering how I can find out more about his death. M.E.'s mother seems to remember that he died while stationed in Hawaii prior to his deployment to Korea during the Korean War. That's really all I have to go on. Would the state of Hawaii have his death certificate if in fact he died while stationed there? Will the USMC give me any information about him given that I'm not a direct descendent? Which way do I go here?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

On this Veteran's Day I'd like to acknowledge and thank Chester for serving our country. I hope that by next Memorial Day I can write a fitting tribute to him with information about his time in the United States Marine Corps.


  1. Jasia,

    There are two ways you can do this. First, his next of kin can order the record online at https://vetrecs.archives.gov/VeteranRequest/home.asp. If there is no next of kin, you can order the record by filling out the form SF-80 and mail it to the National Military Records Records Center. The instructions are at http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/standard-form-180.html#submit.

    Since he was a Marine, there is a good chance they will have his complete military record. A huge percentage of Army records were destroyed in a fire in 1973, but Navy/Marine Corp records were not there when it happened. When I ordered my father's Army record all they had was his discharge paperwork, but I received my mother's complete Navy record when I ordered those.

    They are very nice people to work with and I think it only took about a month to receive what I asked for.

    Good luck!


  2. It appears that he was the son of Stanley and Anna Lipa of Detroit, and that he died in a train accident on the Louisiana and Arkansas Railway.

  3. Chester's death certificate is available through the Louisiana Secretary of State's website.

  4. Jasia:
    I've been chasing a WW II vet who died in 1944. I've been doing lots of work back and forth between newspapers and city directories. He married in 1940 and entered the service in 1942. The newspapers during this time have been a rich resource of info about friends, marriage, and the city directories have helped me track his life between high school and enlistment. Also helpful has been his inclusion on a war memorial--the supporting files are at the state historical society library--and there's also a military museum here in Oklahoma City that has been helpful.

    I don't know if the resources are the same for the Korean War--and you did ask about his military records, but I've found a great deal to flesh out his life using these resources in addition to his military records.

    Good luck!

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