Dog Tags: There are numerous styles and subtle changes made to dog tags from WWII through Vietnam. In this section, we will attempt to show the "most common" style for different time periods. The main difference is the use of a "notched" tag or of a "regular" tag. The notched were used from WWII until about 1964 when the regular tag was adopted. All tags are based on 5 lines of information with a maximum of 17 characters / spaces per line.
WWII - Notched
In WWII, the Army Service Number consisted of 8 digits based on
status and geographic location. Also of importance is the fact that there is no
Rhesus factor on the blood type ( + or - ) as this technology did not exist at
the time. For religious preference, the tags were marked C (Catholic), P
(Protestant), H (Hebrew) or left blank for no preference.
WWII Style 2 (July 1943 to March 1944)
WWII Style 3 (March 1944 to April 1946)
KOREAN WAR - Notched
During the Korean War, there are several variations for tags, but the one below is the most commonly seen. The Army began using the Service Number Prefixes: RA (Regular Army, volunteer enlisted), US (an enlisted draftee), NG (National Guard), ER (Enlisted Reserve), O (Officer) followed by an eight digit service number. Also of importance is the fact that there is no Rhesus factor on the blood type ( + or - ) as this technology did not exist at the time. For religious preference, the tags were marked C (Catholic), P (Protestant), H (Hebrew) or left blank for no preference.
Korean War Army Style 1
Korean War Navy Style 1
Vietnam-Era US Army Dog Tags, the Army Service Number was 8 digits and had one of the following prefixes: RA (Regular Army, volunteer enlisted), US (an enlisted draftee), NG (National Guard), ER (Enlisted Reserve), O (Officer). When using draftee designation "US", the first number is either a 5 or a 6. 6 was considered a bad number as it was reserved for the "Project 100,000". The second number is the "Army Area" the draftee was from. 1 or 2 indicated Northeast (after the 2nd Army was absorbed by the 1st Army in the 50's), 3 South, 4 Southwest, 5 Mid-West, 6 California, Pacific Coast, Hawaii, Alaska. 0 indicated outside the US such as Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, or America Samoa. Of interest, is that US67 numbers indicated one of McNamara's Project 100,000 draftees who had failed the Armed Forces minimal IQ test, but were drafted anyway to meet the manpower needs.
The Army used the Army Serial
Number exclusively until the end of 1967 when the use of Social Security Numbers
(9 digits) was introduced. From this time until June 1969, many dog tags used both numbers.
After this date the Social Security Number was used exclusively. For Vietnam Era
tags, you also see the use of the "broad" religions such as Catholic,
Protestant, Hebrew fully spelled out as opposed to the first letter on WWII
tags. You also see many tags with specific main stream denominations such as
Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, etc. During this time, if you have no religious
preference, the tags are typically stamped "NO PREFERENCE" or left blank.
VN US ARMY Style 1 (Up to 1967) *notched available for early (pre-65) tags
VN US ARMY Style 2 (Late 1967 to June 1969)
VN US ARMY Style 3 (June 1969 to current)
VN USMC Style (Marines)
VN USN Style (Navy)