Locating Current or Former Members of the U.S. Military
Many people believe that when someone spends a few years in the service, that the military will be able to keep track of his or her location. Or that such information is simply available somewhere online.
Unfortunately, that isn't the case. The military keeps track of folks who are currently receiving military pay. That means they know the location of individuals who are currently on active duty, in the National Guard and Reserves, and those who are retired from the military. If you're looking for someone who spent a few years in the military, and then separated, the military is not going to know where they are.
Even if the people you are looking for are currently on active duty, in the Guard or Reserves, or are retired, whether or not the military will release information they do have on file is dependent upon the circumstances. For example, the military generally does not release information about individuals who are deployed.
So, what can you do to locate current or former members of the U.S. Military?
If the person you're trying to find is currently on active duty, and you know their rank, name, and where they are stationed, finding them is pretty easy. Every military base has a "base locator." You can usually locate the military member you're looking for with a simple phone call.
To contact the base locator, call long distance information, and ask them to connect you to the base operator for the military base where the member is stationed. When the base operator comes on the line, ask to be connected to the base locator. The base locator can give you the duty phone number and duty address of any active duty person stationed on that base. Unless the individual has asked to keep the information private, the locator can also give you their home phone number and home address.
If you don't know where the member is stationed, you'll need to contact the specific service's worldwide locator service. Each military branch has their own.
Air Force. The Air Force World-Wide Locator is based at the Air Force Personnel Headquarters in Texas. It handles requests for Air Force active duty, Air Force reserves, the Air National Guard, and retired Air Force members. There are two types of requests: official requests and unofficial requests. Official requests are defined as requests received from any government agency and the Department of Defense. All other requests are considered unofficial. All unofficial requests must be made in writing.
In order for the Air Force to properly locate the correct individual, your request must contain as much of the following information as possible:
- Full name to include a middle initial,
- Social Security number
- Date of birth
- Any known assignment information (places/dates)
A fee of $3.50, per individual request, is required for all unofficial requests. The fee must be paid by check or money order made out to "DAO-DE RAFB." Requestors who are on active duty, National Guard, Reserves, or military retired are exempt from paying the fee.
Your written request needs to include your name, address, and phone number. Put your written request in an unsealed envelope with a return address, proper postage affixed and the individual's (the person you're looking for) name in the addressee portion of the envelope. Place this envelope in a larger envelope with your check or money and mail to the locator address at:
550 C St West Ste 50
Randolph AFB, TX 78150-4752
Please note that your request constitutes permission for the Air Force to release your name, phone number, and address to the military member.
Army. Due to security reasons, the Army has closed their World-Wide Locator Service to the general public. To access the Army locator, you now need an Army Knowledge Online account (that means you need to be a member of the Army, Army National Guard, Army Reserves, Army Retired member, or an Army Dependent).
Other requests to locate active duty Army members are handled on a case-by-case basis. Send your written requests to:
U.S. Army Enlisted Records & Evaluation Center
8899 East 56th Street
Fort Benjamin Harrison, IN 46249-5301
Navy. The Navy World Wide Locator helps locate individuals on active duty and those who have been recently discharged (within one year). The Navy also has a current address for retired Navy service members. Retiree addresses and addresses for those who have recently separated, however, are protected under the provisions of the Privacy Act and cannot be released. In these cases, however, the locator can forward mail.
Give as much identifying information as possible about the person you wish to locate such as full name, rank (rate), last duty assignment/last known military address, service number, and Social Security number.
You can call the locator service toll free at 1-866-827-5672 or 1-901-874-3388, DSN 882-3388. Unless you are calling on official business or a family member or active duty member, the fee for researching an address is $3.50 per address made payable by check or money order to the U.S. TREASURER. Fees are retained in cases resulting in an unsuccessful search. Mail your correspondence with your fee to:
Navy World Wide Locator
Navy Personnel Command
5720 Integrity Drive
Millington, TN 38055-3120
Marine Corps. The Marine Corps can provide the duty station for active duty personnel and reservists. For retired individuals, the locator service can provide the city and state, but not an address. The service will provide the service member's current rank and unit address; however, due to the locator's staffing, the office cannot forward mail except in special cases. Telephonic requests to 1-760-725-5171 are free of charge to immediate family members and government officials calling on official business.
In addition, telephonic service will be provided at no cost to any individual, business or organization, if the Marine locator decides the information would benefit the individual. Other requests cost $3.50, made payable by check or money order to the U.S. TREASURER.
Send written locator requests to:
Commandant of the Marine Corps
Quantico, VA 22134-5030
Coast Guard. The Coast Guard World Wide Locator has duty stations for active duty personnel. They do not maintain listings for CG reserve or retired personnel. To locate an active duty Coast Guard member, you can send an email or write to:
Coast Guard Personnel Command (CGPC-adm-3)
2100 Second St, SW
Washington, DC 20593-0001
Telephone: (202) 267-0581
Other Ways to Locate Current/Former Military Members
Military members are people, just like any other folks. They can often be found by employing methods you would use to try and locate anyone. For example, a private detective agency may be able to assist. They usually have access to resources and databases which can search driver's license records, utility records, mortgage and deed documents, etc.
There are websites that allow former military members and former military members to enter their contact information so that it is available to people who wish to find them. The disadvantage is that the member will not be listed there unless he/she specifically requested that their information is listed. Some of these websites are:
- Military.com Buddy Finder. You have to join this site to use their locator, but joining is free.
- Military Connections. Database with over 450,000 names. Free
- GI Search. Database with information from many current and former military members. Free
- Air Force Email Locator. More than 32,000 email addresses of current and former Air Force members. Free