By “The Coach” (Contributing Editor)
The earliest mention that I can find about dog tags is of the soldiers in the U. S. Civil War placing their personal identifying information on pieces of paper or writing their names inside of their uniforms. This way if they were killed in action, someone would know who they were and their address to notify their families.
Around 1906, a circular aluminum disc was suggested to the U. S. Army to be issued to all of their personal. Sometimes in 1913 identification tags were made mandatory for all military personal.
Sometime in WWII, the circular identification tag was done away with by the rectangular shaped tag with a Notch. The name “dog tag” was adopted sometimes during WWII.
Notice the notch in the upper left corner of the dog tag. Many G. I.’s thought that this notch was placed there so that when a soldier died in combat, one of their dog tags were taken for administrative purpose. The other dog tag was taken and placed in the mouth of the dead soldier. The notch was placed in-between their teeth to hold it in place.
This idea was totally wrong. The notch was put there to hold the dog tag in place when it was being stamped on the machine that was placing the soldier’s information on the tag. Today the notch has been eliminated because the stamping machine has been modified to be able to hold the tag in place without using the notch.
Soldiers had a big problem with their issued dog tags. While wearing their dog tags in combat, any motion of the soldier made, the dog tags hit together making a metal on metal clanking noise. This noise easily gave the soldiers position away.
Around the end of World War II, dog tag silencers came into use. These silencers were made of a black rubber type material and went completely around the outside edge of the dog tag. This type of dog tag silencer worked so well they are still used today. (See Photo)
Currently the standard information the military places on the dog tags to be issued to every member of the Armed Services is the soldiers last name, first name with middle initial, social security number, blood type and religion.
My first experience with dog tags was during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was in grammar school. My teacher handed all of the pupils in her class a form to be filled out by our parents and returned to her the next day. The form asked for our first and last name, if we had any major medical problems or allergies, our religion, full home address and home phone number. I returned the form to my teacher. The day after that, my teacher handed me a single stainless steel dog tag with a chain and all of the above information stamped on it. The school required us to wear them for the rest of the school year. Our teacher would check us before school started, just after we said the Pledge of Allegiance and sung the Star Spangled Banner. I still have that dog tag and it is hanging in my office.
Today, you can purchase dog tags from numerous Army Surplus Stores and on line web sites. You can have five (5) lines of any information you want stamped on each dog tag.
The military still uses stainless steel for their standard issue dog tag. However, you can now purchase dog tags for your personal use in not only stainless steel but black metal, solid brass, solid copper, plain steel and red or gold aluminum.
Unlike the military, you have a multitude of colored dog tag silencers that you can purchase. Most people purchase the black dog tag silencers. However, you can also buy them in blue, red, white orange, purple, clear, Army green, neon green, yellow, pink, red white and blue, desert camo, jungle camo and modern flame.
So, why would you want to wear a set of dog tags?
I have a heart condition and take medication every day for that condition. As a prepper, it is important to me that if I have a heart attack or am injured in any way that I cannot respond verbally to the responding emergency medical personnel, they know who I am, who to contact, the major medical conditions and medications I take for that medical condition, my doctors name and phone number.
I do not like the “Medic Alert” tags that are available. I think they are poorly designed and not made for rugged use. Also, some of them you have to call a phone number to retrieve the needed medical information. During an emergency I want that information immediately available to the responding medical personnel. The shorter time could save your life.
If something happened to you during that emergency and you could not respond to emergency personnel, wouldn’t you want your relatives and loved ones to be notified?
I have a friend in the military that says when he is in any war zone or going into a dangerous situation, he puts one of his dog tags on its issued chain around his neck and places the second one secured under one of his boot laces. This way if he gets caught in an exposition, use your imagination, there is two different areas of his body that he can be identified by.
Another thing that my friend says he has done is to sharpen one edge of each of his dog tags for EMERGENCY cutting. He then carefully places a dog tag silencer on each sharpened dog tag. This edge is not as good as a backup blade but in a tactical situation when your knife has been taken away from you, this could mean the difference between life and death or help in escaping.
Self-reliance is the only road to true freedom, and being one’s own person is its ultimate reward.
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