The WWII Navy Report of Separation

The Navy report of separation, or Navy discharge, is the most sought after document found in Navy service records. It is a crucial piece of documentation because it captures a substantial amount of information pertaining to the WWII Navy veteran’s complete career on one single piece of paper. The report of separation was issued to the Navy veteran upon completion of their service as a way to document and highlight elements of the veteran’s military career. The report of separation would have been required in order to be eligible for retirement benefits, employment, membership in veteran’s organizations and so forth. While the report of separation issued by the military in more recent years is known as the DD-214, prior to 1950 the Navy report of separation was the NAVPERS 553.  The changing names of the forms can be confusing and this is the reason that I have chosen to stick with the WWII era report of separation (NAVPERS 553) for the purposes of this article. The navy report of separation provides a great launching pad for genealogical research within the service record of WWII Navy Veterans.

WWII Navy report of separation

The WWII Navy report of separation will cover the bases as far as the Navy veteran’s basic information:  Full name, date of birth, permanent residence, marital status, citizenship, selective service status, and rank at the time the veteran left the service.The Navy report of separation will show whether the Navy veteran entered the service as an officer or enlisted service member, whether he had overseas service, and whether his discharge from the service occurred under honorable circumstances. Having an honorable discharge from the service would have been vital for acquiring benefits after separation from the Navy. That said, a dishonorable discharge will often be accompanied by a lot of fascinating paperwork detailing the offenses that were committed by the Navy veteran before being dishonorably released from the service.The place where the veteran entered service, as well as the location where he separated from the service will also be included in the initial boxes of the separation report. If you are tracing the steps of an ancestor in your genealogical research journey, these details can be very useful in plotting the path of the individual you are learning about.

WWII Navy report of separation top

The Navy separation report will show the different ratings that the navy veteran held through his career. These ratings will give you an idea of the various promotions that the Navy veteran received during his military career, as well as the duties that he performed. For example if your Navy veteran was a sailor first class, or even a pharmacist’s mate this would be noted within the box showing his various ratings. Another helpful section on the Navy discharge will also indicate whether your veteran had foreign service.

WWII Navy report of separation ratings

You will also find a list of vessels that your Navy veteran served on board as well as service schools he attended. Using this information you can determine places that your veteran visited, skills he learned and engagements he would have fought in.

WWII Navy report of separation vessels

The Remarks section of the separation report will identify awards that the veteran earned during his naval service.  Once you have established that your veteran was awarded a specific medal (such as the bronze star medal noted below) you can expect to find additional paperwork in their complete military service record which will detail exactly what they did to win the award. Citations detailing heroics performed in the line of duty can be some of the most exciting documents maintained within the Navy military service record.

WWII Navy report of separation awards

The final section of the WWII Navy report of separation deals with educational and  employment data. This is another portion of the separation report which can be invaluable for genealogical research. You can see the veteran’s civilian occupation, his last employer, and the dates he was employed at this business. Another neat element of the employment section of the discharge is the section that deals with the veteran’s civilian education. This provides a look at the veteran’s education level starting with grammar school all the way through college.

WWII Navy report of separation educational and employment data

Overall the WWII era Navy discharge can be a valuable resource for conducting genealogical research. As we have seen, the Navy report of separation deals not only with the military accomplishments, training, and service but it also outlines many facets of the veteran’s civilian life up to the time he entered the Navy. If you are looking for a great document to provide a succinct overview of the veteran’s military service which will quickly answer many questions about your veteran the report of separation is the place to start. You can find the report of separation within the Navy veteran’s complete military service record.

Author: Geoff

Geoff Gentilini is the lead researcher at Golden Arrow Research. He specializes in the research of military service records from all branches of the U.S. Military. For help obtaining military service records you can fill out a request form here: Research a Military Service Record

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  1. Hi Cyndee,Thanks for being a part of DYI Interviews.Your book has special mennaig to me because of my father (B-29 pilot in the Pacific) and my uncle (also USAF).These stories must be preserved! Yours was a labor of love!I’m so glad your mother lived to hold your book in her hands.Best wishes,Julie

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