Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Identification Tags



















I have never worn necklaces or bracelets except for three years when I wore my dog tags every day. These ID tags carry one's name, service number, blood type, and religious affiliation. The history of military dog tags can be seen at the following link. Dog Tags

I still have my original dog tags mounted in a shadow box along with other military medals and ribbons.

I took the above photo on August 6, 2003 at the National Vietnam Veteran's Art Museum in Chicago. This display of over 58,000 dog tags hangs from the ceiling in the museum with each tag representing the death of a U. S. military person in the Vietnam War. I believe a different name is on each dog tag, but I couldn't get close enough to read some to make certain. This display was the most significant piece of art in the museum in my opinion.

The image on the left is a close up view of a current dog tag. Notice the last line which reads: No-Rel-Pref . This line on the ID tag is reserved for religious preference to be printed in case a chaplain is needed if a near death incident happens. My dog tag reads Baptist in that position.

I recently invited a young friend and recent Marine basic training graduate to my house when he was home on furlough. As we talked and visited, I asked to see his dog tags and noticed that his read No-Pref on the last line. I asked him why that didn't show his religious preference as I knew he attended a church regularly before entering the Marine Corp. He replied that he didn't know and added that all recruit dog tags in his class were made that way. He indicated that he and others were not asked about religious preferences.

This made me wonder if this represents a policy change in the military or if errant processing caused the tags to be made this way. I wonder if all branches of the military are avoiding this information about its men and women.

Does anyone have information about the current practice of showing religious preference in military dog tags?

Return here on Thursday, November 2 for an update.

Have a good day!

2 Comments:

At 4/16/2007 10:14 PM, Blogger Chris said...

My son just graduated from the Navy this weekend. His are also "NO-REL-PREF". I haven't asked him about it because I didn't want to put him on the spot in case I was mistaken on his beliefs, after not seeing him for a few months. I will ask him in the next letter or email.
I wonder if that might be standard procedure given the climate in the middle east.

 
At 4/17/2007 6:06 AM, Blogger mmabe said...

Chris:

Thank you for your reply about your son's dog tags. It will be interesting what he says about "no religious preference" on his tags.

When I toured Parris Island in February 2007, I asked commanders about "No-Rel-Pref" showing up on recruits dog tags. They insisted that religious preference is placed on tags and if the recruit requested a preference, it would be put on the tag.

Mike

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home