Specialty Services - Locating Gold Star Families

Gold Star Family Research & Memorials is dedicated to assisting  you in researching your soldier of interest and memorializing any hero, family or other. Specialty services include locating the soldier’s next of kin and determining to which family the soldier belonged, where the soldier and their family and next of kin are buried, and which family members are deceased or are still living. My specialty is locating the families of World War II era service men and women, however, other era soldiers and their families can be researched.


The mission is to provide historical research consulting services and to document military service information and genealogical history, as a service to other researchers and interested family members. By combining the use of military and family research resources, the necessary information is provided to clients and subscribers. I primarily focus to locate the families of WWI & WWII soldiers.


When submitting an inquiry about your soldier of interest, please provide ALL of the information that you know and have already researched when submitting your request. This is very important. Military family and genealogy is a step-by-step research process.

For soldiers who were not killed in service during a wartime conflict, and for soldiers who were killed in service but in non-battle or non-combat conditions, we also provide research services for these individuals.

Research Services

Most soldiers who were lost in war conflicts will take several days', if not several weeks' time in steps, in order to complete the basic information. Most of the time the usual case will take two to three days. This information includes all readily available information, family and marriage documents or indexed records, all including parents, siblings, wives, children (next of kin). Documents can consist of census records, headstone applications, burial locations, and/or enlistment records. Additional records may include newspaper articles, and occasionally photographs, or other items of interest, such as birth or marriage certificates. Records such as these may be indexed information only.  To see some examples of the types of military and family records that are available, visit my Research & Projects page. All information gathered provides accurate citations that meet the professional standards for genealogy and historical research. These types of things will be gathered in order to provide a written project summary report. To view some sample pages of the types of reports that are returned to the client, visit my e-Memorials page.

I charge a flat-fee lookup rate for a standard report, plus any applicable remote expenses such as certificate/obituary acquisition fees, postage, travel/mileage, or other supplies. If research must go in steps to acquire additional information, I provide periodic report updates as new information becomes available in order to complete or update the standard military soldier and family history report. Beyond this plain and standard format, I also offer a commemorative edition of the report which includes graphics, appropriate unit insignia artwork, soldier or family photographs, gravestone photos, awards information, and other various special details that serves to honor the memory of a soldier's military service or loss. This beautiful and color e-format can also be provided in a printed book format, bound either semi-permanently or permanently. 

There are a number of select unique cases where certain critical information is not readily available. Please contact me for a quote today based on any specific case and with the information that you know and information you are able to provide. 

Genealogy and military history research often goes in steps; not every single relevant document is going to throw itself out out at the researcher and produce all the answers all at once. While this does sometimes happen, it often does not, and this is why it is necessary to have the involvement and assistance of an experienced and professional researcher. It is also important to document and to know where each piece of information is cited with appropriate source. Anyone can participate in family research as a hobby. Many cases contain records that may conflict with others in genealogy research. Gold Star Family Research provides excellent assistance, and the final product will be a unique and special family keepsake that is an orderly, well-sourced, and given in an aesthetically pleasing presentation format.

To request research for a WWI or WWII Soldier, complete the Research Request Form, save, and submit the form back to us by email.

Other Services

Searchable Database WWII Aviation Class Yearbooks
US Army Air Force Student Pilots / Aviation Cadets

I maintain an exclusive and proprietary, searchable database index of WWII Aviation Students and Cadets who are pictured in a vast collection of various flight school training centers across the US. If you are searching for a photo of a WWII Airman, this is your place to go for an easy look up. I am adding to this database all the time, so if at first you do not find your airman of interest, check back again soon.

Electronic Photo Restoration & Repair Services

I provide other select quality document services, including scanning, digital photo restoration and repair, artistic photograph and memento presentation services for sharing your family story, and public memorial display fixtures and online memorials. Visit my additional pages here to see a few examples of these types of unique tokens you can use to share your particular story and history easily with your family and friends.

Document Scanning and Archival Digital Preservation Services

Upon request I provide preservation of military and family files, family trees, documents, photos, histories, and the like in permanent storage format using M-Disc technology. One can read and learn more about the benefits of M-Discs here -- http://www.mdisc.com/. This is provided to the client for nominal fees. A good piece of advice involves careful preservation of electronic records. Storing these in more than one location is another suggestion. One idea my family has used on occasion is sending and giving other relatives digital copies of your family collections (you can even do this as a nice holiday gift), or place these files on M-Discs and in fire safes. 


I am a contributor to The Santa Barbara B-24 Disasters: A Chain of Tragedies Across Air, Land, and Sea  by Author Robert A Burtness. I enjoyed working with Bob so much on this project. My efforts were as a voluntary contributor that began with my uncle's connection to the series of tragedies that occurred at Santa Barbara in the summer of 1943. 

Public Speaking

Locating Gold Star Families: The Right Stuff, Aviation Archaeology and Heritage Association (AAHA) Symposium Conference, Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas, Nevada, April 2012, Jana Churchwell, Owner, Gold Star Family Research & Memorials

Want to learn and don't know where to start? To schedule a learning presentation for your group, association, or organization, see the program outline brochure Researching Gold Star Families: The Right Stuff.
See also available the program outline Researching Gold Star Families: The Right Stuff in the Dutch language or Researching Gold Star Families: The Right Stuff in the French language.


National Genealogical Society (NGS), Society of American Archivists (SAA), Aviation Archaeology and Heritage Association (AAHA)


"Jana personally commits to each veteran she researches. In reaching an end goal she is tenacious, wending her way through various forms of information; printed, digital and online documents and photos. She has helped me find veteran information on several occasions as I built personnel rosters or sought specific circumstances about where, how or when."
----Tony Strotman, MSgt (Ret), USAF
Son of T/Sgt Francis E Strotman, Engineer-Gunner, 491st Bm Sq / 341st Bm Gp (M), Yangkai, China
"USAAF in CBI Tribute" - http://www.usaaf-in-cbi.com

“The Second World War for many families in this country did not end on V-J Day or V-E Day.  The legacy and hardship of that war continues to be a part of the lives of those families who lost a loved one designated as Missing in Action.  Suddenly a treasured member of the family is gone without a trace.  The empty place at the table remains empty. Now, almost 70 years after the war the possibility of learning about a loved one or locating a family of that loved one, who may have given up hope, is now becoming a reality.  Thanks to Jana Churchwell whose remarkable skills as a researcher into places that previously yielded no results is nothing short of amazing. I should know, Jana was able to locate family members of the aircrew of a B-17 that went missing in the Southwest Pacific in 1943.  Along with the crew was my father, Brig. Gen. Kenneth N. Walker, who commanded the 5th Air Force Bomber Command in New Guinea at the time of this loss on January 5, 1943.  The plane has never been found. I learned of Jana’s extraordinary skills through a mutual friend who had benefited from exactly the kind of family research I was interested in.  From the outset Jana was enthusiastic and eager to take on the challenge of locating family members of this lost crew to inform them of a search effort for the aircraft. It seemed that my emails to her  with information about the crew, last known addresses and so forth were barely out, when she began to respond with names, addresses and telephone numbers of the families.  I was blown away, to put it mildly, that she could so quickly find people that, like their lost loved ones, had dropped out of sight. Now we knew who they were and how to reach them.  It was a remarkable experience and from what I know unique as well.  No one we’ve worked with was as quick, accurate and productive as Jana Churchwell.  She is possibly the best researcher in her field in the country. I would welcome the opportunity to answer any questions about her and to share my very positive experience with Jana.”
-----Douglas P Walker
Son of Brigadier General Kenneth N Walker, MIA-KIA, MIA-KIA, Medal Of Honor, Silver Star, Distinguished Service Cross, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, Commanding General V Bomber Command, 5th Air Force 

"As a researcher who has been digging through files for the past 25 years, I can say that finding information about WWII men and aircraft has been a daunting task. That is until I learned of the capabilities of Jana. Now, those items that consumed much of the time needed to build a case profile, has been reduced to a couple of emails to Jana. Her ability to rapidly assimilate requirements in such a short time is phenomenal. She has added and entirely new dimension to the search of finding those important links that can make or break an effort. As a researcher of the Brigadier General Kenneth N Walker, Working Group, I can unabashedly say that her contribution has greatly contributed to the assembly of facts regarding this case. Without her skills, and knowledge of being able to navigate through the cavernous labyrinths of information our efforts would not be nearly as far along as they are. Her ongoing participation in this effort is a most welcomed addition to our team." 
-----Eugene M Monihan
Research Officer, Walker Working Group  



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