As a part of that desire, I hoped to find a relative that participated in World War I. No ancestors from my direct line participated in the War. I did find an ancestor on my husband's side that was enlisted during that time: Frank Herman Roelker. Frank did go overseas, but did not get to the conflict until after November 1918.
Findagrave.com to see if I could locate their death information. I found SGT James Smith Trabue's headstone, which indicated that he had served in Company H, 356th Regiment, 89th Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Forces. The dates on James' headstone were 1890 to 1918. Did James die in combat?
James was buried in Missouri, so I decided to visit the Missouri State Archive's Digital History website and search their military records. What I found was astounding to me: James enlisted in September 1917 and served overseas from 4 June 1918 until 11 November 1918...the day he was killed in action. My relative, however distant, was killed on the final day of the conflict. I was now on a conquest to find out more about James Trabue. My next step was to visit the National Archives website and place a request for his service record. Because I was not a direct descendant from James I had to fill out Standard Form 180 to request his file. I made a copy of the document and then mailed it on 10 March 2010.
I had to wait a very long time for a response, and when it finally came on 18 October 2010 it was not good news. "Dear Sir or Madam: The record needed to answer your inquiry is not in our files. If the record were here on July 12, 1973, it would have been in the area that suffered the most damage in the fire on that date and may have been destroyed." The letter goes on to suggest that there may be a "casualty file" maintained by the Department of the Army and they gave contact information for the U.S. Army Human Resources Command. I sent the specific department mentioned an email, but never received a response.