Identification Tags ("Dog Tags")
Every Man in Navy to Wear Metal Identification Tag
Every officer and enlisted man in the United States Navy will wear a metal identification tag which will bear the wearer's name, the date of his birth and enlistment, and, in the case of an officer, his rank and date of appointment. On the other side will be etched the fingerprint of his right index finger. This is part of what naval officers regard as the best system of identification known, superior to that in use in European armies and navies.
The identification tag for officers and enlisted men of the Navy consists of an oval plate of monel metal, 1.25 by 1.50 inches, perforated at one end and suspended from the neck by a monel wire incased in a cotton sleeve.
The tag has on one side the etched fingerprint of the right index finger. On the other side are to be etched the individual's initials and surname, the month, day, and year of enlistment, expressed in numerals (e.g., 1, 5, 1916), and the month, day, and year of birth (similarly expressed). This side will also bear the letters U.S.N.; for officers-initials and surname, the rank held, and date of appointment.
A copy of each fingerprint on paper is supplied to the Bureau of Navigation, Navy Department, where it is filed in the identification section, this particular work being in charge of J.H. Taylor, fingerprint expert, who devised the tag adopted. Mr. J. Herbert Taylor is nationally recognized as an expert in fingerprint identification. No fraudulent enlister, with prior naval service, has been able to avoid discovery since Mr. Taylor has taken charge of the work. Mr. Taylor's work not only extends to the discovery of fraudulent enlisters, but has frequently been valuable in identifying dead men of whose identity there was doubt.
Source: "Every Man in Navy to Wear Metal Identification Tag." Our Navy. 11, no.4 (August 1917): 39.
In accordance with an approved change to Navy Regulations, two identification tags are mandatory for wear by all naval personnel in time of war or national emergency. In case of capture or death, one tag remains on the person while the other is forwarded to the Bureau. International Convention provides that the foreign power into whose custody a man may fall, return one tag through the International Red Cross.
Information required to be stamped or etched on each tag (on one side only) is as follows: (a) name; (b) officer's jacket number or man's service number; (c) blood type; (d) date of administration of tetanus toxoid (e.g., T-8/16/42); (e) appropriate letters, "USN," "USNR," etc. The placing of religious preference ("P" for Protestant, "C" for Catholic, and "H" for Hebrew) is optional.
New tags are made of 17 percent chrome (stainless) steel, and are oval in shape. Tags now in use are to be retained as one of the two.
A new braided plastic and steel-wire cable, with a 24-inch loop and an attachment for both tags, will be available to all personnel in the immediate future. The wire is designed to withstand a temperature of 2,000 degrees and will retain at least a 5-pound pull even after heat has burned the plastic composition. The wire is designed to break at 21 pounds, when unburned, to prevent accidental injury to the wearer, and can be cut readily with a knife. In addition, the jump ring may be opened to facilitate detachment of tags.
Sources of supply for both tags and cables are Naval Supply Depot, Bayonne, NJ, and Naval Supply Depot, Oakland, Calif., on requisition. Official promulgation of regulations governing the above is contained in R-1083 and R-1105 of the 1 June 1943 Navy Department Bulletin.
Source: "Identification Tags." Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin. 317 (August 1943): 65.
Something new in dog tags has been developed by Comdr. Frank E. Jeffreys, (DC) USN, now on the staff of the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., who worked out a technique by which a serviceman's name and other pertinent data to aid in casualty identification may be inscribed on the plate of his false teeth. The information is typed on a sheet of onionskin paper and then, before the plate is completed, transferred through the use of a carbon duplicator.
Source: "Ships & Stations." Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin. 334 (January 1945): 47.
While browsing through OpNav Instruction 3710.7A, dated 31 December 1956, we chanced upon a number of interesting items. How to fill out a DD 175 flight clearance form is spelled out for the first time. The order requiring all personnel to wear identification tags during aerial flight is still in effect.
Little has been said recently about wearing "dog tags," and just out of curiosity, NANews had a survey made at a naval air station. Each time a pilot presented a flight clearance for signature, he was asked if he had on his dog tag.
The results were somewhat surprising. Out of 86 pilots surveyed, 20 had on dog tags, 18 had no tags at all, and the rest "had them somewhere, but darned if I know where they are."
Source: "'Dog Tag' Survey Made: Unofficial Results Surprising." Naval Aviation News. (April 1957): 16.