- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dear Sgt Shaft:

Can you explain to me why my father’s dog tag has two holes in it — top and bottom — instead of what “we” usually see, which are Army dog tags with a hole at the top to be worn around the neck with a chain?

Thanks ever so much,
Barbara A.
Austin, Texas

Dear Barbara:

My sources tell me that two-holed dog tags were used by the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy from around 1917 through World War II. The oval tags first came into use around 1917.

The P1917 was used by the Navy and seagoing Marines (Marines serving on ships) during World War I and the between wars period. Information on them was handwritten and acid-etched, including a fingerprint on the reverse.

The P1940 came into use just before World War II, and information was usually machine-stamped into them. Stocks of P1917’s were often used up.

A commercial company now produces machine-made replicas made of aluminum and cut to shape using an original blank as a guide. The tags are sought by WWII U.S. living history enthusiasts and re-enactors. Information on these tags is available from http://www.ww2rationtechnologies.com/ww2tag.html.

Sets of two tags were worn on a white cotton cord in boot camp. Later in the field, they were worn with the cord dyed green, or worn on a boot lace, dog tag chain or plastic-covered cable.

Custom-printed (marked) dog tags contain the following information:

• First line — Your last name;
• Second line — The first initial of your first and middle names;
• Third line — Your serial number and religion (C=Catholic; P=Protestant & H=Hebrew);
• Fourth line — Your blood type (There was no blood factoring, positive or negative, in WWII);
• Fifth line — Date of your tetanus shot;
• Sixth line — Service you are in (USMC, USMCR (reserve), USN or USNR).

Following WWII, the Navy adopted the traditional dog tags used by the U.S. Army and Air Force.

Shaft notes

• Congratulations to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) who recently received the 2011 “Outstanding Legislator Award” from the Association of the United States Army (AUSA). The AUSA is honoring Ms. Murray with this award for her work on veterans’ employment issues and her continuing support for service members and their families.

Last week, House Army Caucus Co-Chairman John Carter (R-TX), helped celebrate the U.S. Army’s 236th birthday in the U.S. Capitol, along with Army, Congressional, and Administration officials. Mr. Carter, who represents the Fort Hood, Texas, area in Congress, says the whole nation should celebrate the event, as the United States would not exist without the Army.

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