BY TOM BUSSELBERG
FARMINGTON – As Veterans Day approaches, your thoughts might turn to your uncle or grandfather, who died in combat on the battlefield in France during World War II.
Or, you may have a son, brother, or cousin who recently returned from active duty in Afghanistan.
If these loved ones are Davis County residents or lived here, you can turn those thoughts into a visible momento.
A piece of each military person’s history is compiled at the Davis County Recorder’s Office. That office is in Room 106 of the Davis County Administration Building, 61 S. Main Street, Farmington.
Such records are easier, and quicker, than ever to access, said County Recorder Richard Maughan. That’s thanks to computerization that makes records available within seconds, rather than requiring multiple steps, including poring over books to find a military member’s name.
The new military members’ index and database was formally unveiled in a short demonstration to the County Commission Tuesday morning.
“It concerns itself only with military discharges or other military papers that get recorded in Davis County,” Maughan said.
But you’d be surprised at what’s included among the 4,857 discharge entries included.
“Typically there are no photos, but we have a lot of records with a thumbprint as a mode of identification,” Maughan said.
The earliest discharge date for a Davis County resident is from 1891, for a John Johnson. He enlisted for five years as a member of the Utah Volunteers out of Salt Lake City in 1886.
“On the second page of his record, it says he served an honorable service in the Indian hostilities of 1890 and 1891,” Maughan said.
The records were previously stored in four big and cumbersome volumes weighing 30 lbs. each. Each was about two feet tall, 15 inches wide, and between three and four inches thick.
The books are stored in the offices “controlled vault,” not accessible to the public. That’s in deference to protection of privacy for veterans, both those living and deceased, Maughan emphasized.
By the same token, privacy is uppermost in protective measures taken of the new computerized database, the recorder said.
“One thing we’re trying to protect against is identity fraud and identity theft,” Maughan said. “When someone is dead, their information is free reign for people.”
For that reason, the records database can be accessed only by certified employees. There is no public access, he said.
For someone who fought in World War II, typical entries are two pages. Some loved ones have added as many as six extra pages, but it’s information desired for inclusion by loved ones, not military data, Maughan said.
Family members of veterans, both alive and deceased, can provide information for free.
Copies are available at $1 a page.
“It’s nice to have the information so readily available, so easy to access,” said County Commissioner Louenda Downs. “Some of the information we looked at described how a person looked, the color of their eyes and how tall they were.”
Then Downs told of an entry Maughan had shown the three commissioners that many a military veteran can relate to: the record indicated the individual had been discharged “because he couldn’t masticate (stomach) the Army’s rations.”