Marieta's Retirement Ramblings

Camp Dodge, Johnston, Iowa


Camp Dodge
7105 NW 70th Avenue
Johnston, Iowa 50131-1824

Michael W. Vogt, Curator
Iowa Gold Star Museum

Melissa Shaver, Clerk Specialist
Iowa National Guard Center

Bob Betz
Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs
Graves Registration, DD214’s

My afternoon at Camp Dodge was enlightening! In general (no pun intended), people say, “That is at Camp Dodge.” So, I went to Camp Dodge. In particular, I went to the Gold Star Museum and asked for Michael Vogt, the only name I’ve heard recently associated with genealogy information.

It turns out I had visited here in May 2000, but had forgotten about that visit until after I made my current trip. I had even assembled a notebook of information about Camp Dodge after that visit 13 years ago. Now, as I write this, I am trying to reconcile the information from 2000 with current information and with information presented recently at the State Historical Society of Iowa (SHSI).

Iowa Gold Star Museum

While waiting for Michael to return from an errand, I walked through the awesome museum. I should have spent more time, but that wasn’t my mission for the afternoon. Dave and I will need to return on a day when we can give it proper justice.

It wasn’t until I was talking with Michael that I realized the separation of the records. I needed to visit three places on Camp Dodge, not just one! Michael explained this to me, but I was so caught off guard (again, no pun intended), I still didn’t really grasp it all. Only after I visited all three places, and reviewed my notebook from 2000, did I begin to understand.

Michael showed me genealogy-type materials located in both their library and in the “back room.”

In the Library, WWI bonus cards for all branches of service fill 103 archival boxes (similar to shoe boxes), which line the top shelf around the upper perimeter of the library. Then, several bookcases contain military history books. One area has county and community histories with information about participation of local residents in the various wars and conflicts.

In the back room he showed me a WPA alpha roster of Iowans in the Civil War. While this contains less information than the bound roster books(1), the roster books are organized by regiment and company, whereas this is in alphabetical order by last name of the soldier. This roster serves as a finding aid for Iowans in the Civil War if the researcher does not know that unit. Once the unit is known, much more information can be located.

He showed me Iowa National Guard personnel cards from ca. 1900 to ca. 1970. Note, these are only for the Iowa National Guard, not other branches of service.

One other thing, he showed me the personnel records for the Iowa State Guard (ca 1942-ca 1947). The people who served in this unit were the ones who kept life going at home, while others were serving elsewhere in the world. These are the people who mowed the grass and did other maintenance work at Camp Dodge, for example. While it seems obvious that someone needed to do this work, I had never thought about a separate group being formed for this purpose.

From the Gold Star Museum building I drove to a nearby building which houses both the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) and the Iowa National Guard (IA NG) Records Center.

Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs

At the IDVA I met Bob Betz. This office has 685 boxes of Bonus records. In addition, this is where the Graves Registration project is maintained.

Regarding the IDVA, the Code of Iowa, Chapter 35A.5 DUTIES OF THE DEPARTMENT states: The department shall do all of the following: [selectively chosen]
2. Maintain information and data concerning the military service records of Iowa veterans.
4. Permanently maintain the records including certified records of bonus applications for awards paid from the war orphans educational fund under chapter 35.
8. Maintain alphabetically a permanent registry of the graves of all persons who served in the military or naval forces of the United States in time of war and whose mortal remains rest in Iowa.

To this end, the following may be of benefit for genealogists:

Bonus Records: Beginning with World War I, the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs has paid a bonus to the people who served in the military or to their beneficiary during conflicts. The WWI and WWII Bonus Case Files have been transferred to the State Historical Society of Iowa (SHSI) Archives in Des Moines. The more current records are stored at IDVA in Camp Dodge.

When I explained that neither my husband nor I remember him receiving a bonus, Bob went to the back room and soon reappeared with photocopies of my husband’s application, his DD214, and a computation sheet, showing that he served for 4 years, 23 days and received a $300 bonus. OK, our memory is faulty!

Graves Registration Project: This project began as a 1930s WPA project to identify the gravesites of U.S. veterans buried in Iowa and has continued. Bob, however, told me that he is not sure they get veteran information from all funeral homes. Apparently, funeral facilities are not required to submit the information. So, the information is only as good as what they receive. The records through 1998 contained 275,000 names and microfilmed copies can be found at SHSI and at the Iowa Genealogical Society.

Iowa National Guard Record Center

Melissa Shaver explained her office maintains records for the Iowa Army National Guard (IA ARNG) and the Iowa Air National Guard (IA ANG). She provided a long list of personnel and unit records that included such things as Leave and Earnings Statements, Orders, Morning Reports, and Reserve Training Reports. Records for the Iowa Army National Guard soldiers discharged or separated before 1950 have been transferred to SHSI Archives in Des Moines (including enlistment files from about 1875 to about 1950 as well as pre-1915 correspondence files).

In ALL of these offices, privacy rules prevail. Researchers need to show relationship and have proper documentation before being able to see appropriate records.
(1) Brig. Gen. Guy E. Logan, Adjutant General. Roster and Record of Iowa Soldiers in the War of the Rebellion. Des Moines: State Printer. 6 volumes.