The roots for US Navy dog tags as a use for personal military identification, as well as dog tags for other military branches, dates back to the Civil War. During that time, soldiers would pin notes inside their uniform with their personal information such as name and address. Dog tags first issued by the US Navy were oval in shape and produced by using a combination of mainly nickel and copper. One side of the tag was used to etch the right index finger print of the enlisted. The reverse side contained the individual’s personal information along with the navy’s initials – USN.
Additional Information on US Navy Dog Tags
Dog tags worn by Naval officers would include their initials and surname and their date of appointment. For the enlisted, the dog tag contained similar information such as initials and surname, but would include the date they enlisted along with their date of birth.
After WWI, dog tags were no longer a standard issue in the Navy and would only be reinstated during a time of war or other type of emergency. The issuance of dog tags could also be made mandatory by a person of authority. However, at the onset of the WWII, dog tags were once again reinstated and became a standard US Navy issue. At that time, the information provided on the dog tag was revised. US Navy dog tags from WWII included the individual’s name, his service number, his blood type and the letter “T” would be noted if he had been vaccinated for tetanus. USN continued to be part of the information provided and the fingerprint of the right index finger continued to be etched on the reverse side. In time, the etched finger print was removed from the tags.
Current US Navy issue of dog tags includes surname (followed by the individual’s initials), their service number, branch of service (USN), their blood type and religious affiliation (which was optional and up to the individual). Today, US Navy dog tags continue to be a part of standard military issue.