Family History Research

The IDPF of James Privoznik

I took my oldest son to Springfield, IL to research at the State Archives and see the Lincoln sites. We had a great time and he learned a lot. We toured the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and after seeing the show “The Ghost in the Library”, Drew had a greater appreciation and understanding of why I love history and researching our family. I think he’s hooked.

When we returned home I found a package from the National Archives. I received the Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF) for my cousin James Privoznik. If you have read my post about Frank Winkler and his IDPF or Michael Kokoska and his WWI Burial File, you know each person’s file contains different pieces of information. Some is the same and other information is different.

In James’s IDPF there are several letters between his mother Mary and the government asking about the return of his personal effects. Apparently they were never returned. It is possible there was nothing left to find to return. This IDPF does not tell me exactly how James was killed (as Michael’s Burial File described his death) but lists in the Report of Burial that the cause of death was HE Shell Lower Trunk and Thigh Mangled. The Report of Burial goes on to say he was temporarily buried in a US Military Cemetery in Hamm Luxembourg. Grave 265 Row 11. To his right was buried a man named SAKSVIG, Serial #36006616, Rank of CPL, 358th Infantry 90th Div Grave 264. To his left a man named CHANDLER, Serial #38282774, Rank of PVT, 358th Infantry 90th Div Grave 266.

As was the process and I believe still is the process, the government asks the family if they wish to have their loved ones remains returned to the US or buried in a permanent US Cemetery overseas. Mary indicated she wanted James buried in Luxembourg.  Family story says he wished to be buried where he fell. There is a Disinterment Directive to move his remains to the Luxembourg American Cemetery Plot E Row 15 Grave 75, reburied 15 December 1948. James died January 1945.  The Directive give information to confirm it is his body they are moving, gives a condition of the remains which seem to indicate his body was very badly damaged upon death. They buried him in his uniform and also indicate a flag was sent to his mother. A flag she would have received had the burial taken place in the US.

I did not know much about James until I received his IDPF. I now have a little more of an idea about who he was. Because the report contains his serial number I will now try to obtain records, if they still exist, at the NPRC in St. Louis. I will also start researching his unit for histories and information on him. And last, since I discovered the Chicago Tribune posted lists of men heading out for Army service for WWI, I will search the WWII time period to see if the same is true.

If you would like to see James’s grave, go to the American Battle Monuments Commission website and search the Cemeteries for Privoznik. There is a beautiful photo of his grave there. Take some time to look around and pay your respects to the other men and women who have given their lives for our country.

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Photo of the Week – Joseph J. Holik, Naval Armed Guard

World War II U.S. Naval Armed Guard S1c

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Madness Monday – Naval Armed Guard Enemy Encounters

The more I research my family history, and history in general, the more questions I have. One question I am not sure I will ever have answered is what kind of enemy encounters did my grandfather have during his service as a Naval Armed Guardsman in WWII? The War deeply affected him and he was not the same after he returned home. I would love to know the truth of his service, but know that is not likely.

The family story is, depending on who is telling it, that my grandfather’s ship (which one we don’t know) was hit by a German Sub which caused a lot of destruction and death. The other story is his ship was hit in one of the gun nests by a Kamikaze pilot. The only theory I have at this point as that another ship in one of the convoys suffered damage by the enemy and he was a witness to that damage.

I have the Smooth Logs, Captain’s Logs, and Armed Guard reports, all of which say basically the same thing, NO ENEMY ENCOUNTER. I have convoy numbers but have read that there is not a log or report by convoy that describes voyages.

Do any other records exist that might answer my question?