SGT. SHAFT: Decoding dad’s dog tags

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Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I came across my dad’s dog tags and was wondering if you can help me understand the information on it.

The first line has his first name, followed on the second line by his middle name, followed on the third line by his last name. Next is 564-26-57. What does that represent? Then on the fifth line is “T 12-42.” That must be the month and year he enlisted? Then the sixth line reads, “USNR: O.”

Could you please decode this for me. Thank you!

Shelley H.
Via the Internet

Dear Shelly:

According to my sources, their best guess based on quick research is:

Line 1 — First name.

Line 2 — Middle name.

Line 3 — Last name.

Line 4 — Enlisted man’s service number or officer’s service jacket number.

Line 5 — “T 12-42.” These referred to immunizations — tetanus most likely — but the numbered codes stood for dates.

Line 6 — “USNR” is the United States Naval Reserve; the “O” stands for blood type — there was no positive (+) or negative (-) used in the World War II era.

I hope this information increases the special significance of this meaningful memento of your dad’s service to our country.


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