Submitted by Dick Martin
Recently, I was in a Doctor’s office filling out some paperwork, when one on my dog tags (military engraved metal identification tag) fell out of my billfold as I fumbled around looking for my Medicare card. I have kept it in my billfold for the past 40 years in case I am ever in an accident. The dog tag has my name, blood type, and religion stamped on it, all of which could be helpful to care givers in the event I cannot communicate that information in an accident.
The secretary behind the desk was completely intrigued by the dog tag. She had heard of them and seen the knock offs circulating among her age group, but never seen the real thing. She told me a story about her granddad or some relation that had participated in the big one, WWII. I was surprised the dog tag was such a novelty to her. I put the dog tag securely back in my billfold and went on my way.
My first experience with dog tags was well before I was in the military. It occurred when I was very young when someone told me the dog tags were used to identify dead soldiers. One of the dog tags (they came in twos) was given to the commanding officer to record the death and the other was slammed between the soldier’s teeth firmly fixing the dog tag so the dead soldier could be identified when necessary at a later date. I still don’t know if they were ever used in this manner. Wikipedia says it is probably a myth.
After the incident at the doctor’s office, because of the woman’s intrigue, I began to wonder if the military still used dog tags. I have no idea what the answer is to that question, but with all of the new advanced technology, there has to be a much more sophisticated way of providing that information on the dog tags of wounded soldiers to care givers.
In the February issue of Army magazine, in one of the articles “Saved at the Stalag” the author, First Sergeant Richard Robitaille, writes about Jewish soldiers, if captured by the Germans in WWII, being instructed to destroy their dog tags because of the “H” (Hebrew) for religion (Jewish) stamped on the dog tag. The Germans routinely segregated the Jewish prisoners from the other prisoners. An “H” on their dog tag could mean a death sentence.
According to Wikipedia, the British Army first used the contemporary dog tag in 1907 and the US Army authorized the use of the Model 70 dog tag in its War Department General Order No. 204 dated December 20, 1906. I don’t know what is used today for identifying soldiers. Some viewer must know what the military currently uses for identification of deceased soldiers. Please comment!!