Military Service and GenDetective

Following our last blog, Lets Talk Military Service, I received a few questions about military service:  “If I do not use custom military events, how does GenDetective determine what is military service and which war the service is for?” 

For reporting, and to facilitate additional research, GenDetective attempts to associate a  specific war with each military service event.  Any service that falls outside of the years associated with a war, is identified as “Regular Military Service”.  This grouping will include any relatives who enlisted and served during peace time, or someone who is “Career Military”.

GenDetective uses a couple of different approaches to match military service to a specific war:

  1. Standard military event(s) built into your genealogy software
  2. Any custom military events

The majority of genealogists use the standard “Military Service” event defined in your software (RootsMagic, FTM, TMG, Legacy, etc).  A couple of programs take it one step further and have “Military Service Starts” and “Military Service Ends”.   Using the standard military service event, military service for John Smith (an American) might look like:

  • 1862-1863, Company I, Pennsylvania Volunteers –> Civil War
  • 31 Jan 1942 – 30 Jun 1944, Teac 5 US Army –> World War II
  • Sgt First Class, 326 Field Hospital –> Regular Military Service

In the first two examples, GenDetective can identify the specific war service because of the dates or years that are included.  In the third example, without any dates or year(s) for guidance, GenDetective will classify this service as Regular Military Service.  One could say, use the dates for this person’s lifetime.  That could be done, but during this John’s lifetime (1888-1953), several possibilities exist: Spanish-American war, World War I and World War II.  It would be impossible for GenDetective to determine the “correct” answer without a timeframe for reference.

The second method of recording military service uses custom (user defined) military events.  Genealogists whose families have a long history of military service, or genealogists looking to prove DAR/SAR or other military service may define their own events, frequently, one per war: Revolution, War1812, Civil, WW1, WW2, Korean, etc.  Have you ever read an obituary that mentions a relative served with a specific unit in WW2, but does not provide dates of service?  Or, walked through a cemetery and found service information engraved on a headstone?  Custom military events provide a way to identify service in a war without having dates of service.  GenDetective takes advantage of these events, as long as the genealogist identifies them as military service, to associate service with a war, even without service dates!

Regardless of how you record military service for your family, GenDetective will help you sort your relative’s service by war.

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