Now Available! Stories from the World War II Battlefield Volume 1

New Book on World War II Research Available!

Have you heard that phrase regarding the status of Army, Air Corps, and National Guard records from World War II? Roughly 80% of these records did burn in a fire in 1973. This is not however, the end of the road for researchers. Many other record sources exist to reconstruct the service history of a World War II soldier.

All the tools researchers need to start exploring their World War II soldier’s service are included in this volume.

The tools include:

  • The basics of starting research.
  • Tips for online and offline military research. Instructions for ordering the Official Military Personnel File and collateral records to reconstruct service history.
  • Tips on researching the service history of women who served in the Army and Air Corps.
  • And, tips for placing the soldier into historical context using higher level records.

Through dozens of examples, checklists, and document images, researchers are taught how to analyze the Official Military Personnel File, records created for the Missing, the Prisoners, and the Dead, and numerous other records which may help reconstruct the service history.

This is the most important reference guide researchers need to begin researching and writing the story of their Army, Air Corps, and National Guard World War II soldier available today.

The book is now available on the author’s website with an Additional Resources section for the book!

Please note! The hardcover version is ONLY available on or the author’s website.

© 2015, Jennifer Holik, Woodridge, IL

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Military Monday – Oral Histories and Memories

In the fall of 2013, the Pritzker Military Museum and Library hosted their first Military History Symposium, and I heard Tim O’Brien speak for the first time. I took eight pages of notes as he spoke on writing and his experience in Vietnam. A couple of weeks ago I watched The Fiction of War air on our PBS station in Chicago as part of the library’s Citizen Soldier series.

I sat still for 30 minutes listening to O’Brien speak again. This broadcast was an abbreviated version of his talk at the Symposium. As I listened I learned new things and made new connections to my World War II work and non-fiction to his Vietnam experience and fiction. He commented on discussing the battles and days in Vietnam with others in his unit after they returned to the states. Each man remembered their own version of the battles and days discussed.


Each person has a different perspective of an event. This is true whether several people witness a car accident or fight in war. Each individual is focusing on their job (radioman, infantryman, artillery, pilot, truck driver) and sees the war through that lens. O’Brien said he was the radio man for his platoon leader and they were connected by a wire and usually less than 3 feet apart. Yet both had different memories of battles. O’Brien was focusing on passing messages through the radio and the leader was focused on enemy engagement ahead.

When we think about oral histories for genealogy research, we typically think about interviewing one person at a time and ask specific questions about their life. As we consider interviewing our World War II veterans and veterans who came after, we should not only interview them but attempt to gather the stories from those with whom they served. Each of those experiences and memories serves a purpose in the larger picture we piece together through our military research.

One of the things I want to do on my blog this year is to bridge the gap between past and present. Gather the stories of those from World War II, teach people how to research and write those stories, but also gather stories of current veterans. I also want to hear the perspectievs and experiences of other World War II researchers. Each of us has a different skill set and knowledge base. We can all learn from each other. To accomplish this I will have guest bloggers from time to time talking about this topic.

As we all move forward with oral histories we need to remember there are many sides to a story.

© 2015, Jennifer Holik, Woodridge, IL

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Writing Wednesday – The Writer Magazine

One of the resources I use regularly to learn about the craft of writing and expose myself to different writing styles is The Writer Magazine.

I enjoy this magazine and its website because of the variety of articles and the accessibility of new writing prompts and publishing information. In the February 2015 edition there is an interesting article called “Speak Easy…Keep your characters’ conversations in historical context.” This article appealed to me not because I write dialogue (yet) but because it discusses historical context and provides nine additional online resources to learn about words and writing historical fiction. These sites are valuable for family historians who need to “decipher” old letters or documents. The magazine also conducts author interviews, has specific craft how-to’s, articles on new books, and lists of agents.

Visit their website and find resources for writers, editors, and publishers. Writing prompts have their own section and you can find additional articles on writing. The one called 5 Reasons to Keep a Journal hit home for me. I try to journal often and work through problems or emotions or just free write. I read through the journals probably once a quarter and am sometimes amazed at what I discover. Bits of poetry, story ideas, pieces of myself I thought I lost, problems resolved, and growth as a person. Journaling is an important part of my life and in 2015 I strive to do it daily.

Do you subscribe to The Writer Magazine? What do you like about it?

© 2015, Jennifer Holik, Woodridge, IL

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