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U.S. Marines - Dog Tags or Tattoos?


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hotskates's Avatar
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19-Dec-2004, 06:41 PM #1
U.S. Marines - Dog Tags or Tattoos?
I saw a picture of a bunch of marines in Iraq, I think it was in Newsweek magazine, and they all had their personal information tattoo'd on their bodies. Do they use tattoos now instead of dogtags? Or do they have both dogtags and tattoos? I am just curious if they do use tattoos now, are they permanent? Seems a little harsh to have a permanent tattoo on your body. I know a marine who had his personal information (rank, serial no., etc.) tattood under his arm and he said it hurt like crazy. I didn't get to ask him if it was optional or not.
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19-Dec-2004, 07:06 PM #2
They dont tatoo under regulation. It's pretty common practice among most Marines--almost like a ritual... The info thing might just be a fad.
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20-Dec-2004, 12:50 AM #3
HISTORY OF THE DOG TAG

The Civil War provided the first recorded incident of American soldiers making an effort to ensure that their identities would be known should they die on the battlefield. Their methods were varied, and all were taken on a soldier's own initiative. In 1863, prior to the battle of Mine's Run in northern Virginia, General Meade's troops wrote their names and unit designations on paper tags and pinned them to their clothing. Many soldiers took great care to mark all their personal belongings. Some troops fashioned their own "ID" (identification) tags out of pieces of wood, boring a hole in one end so that they could be worn on a string around the neck.

The commercial sector saw the demand for an identification method and provided products. Harper's Weekly Magazine advertised "Soldier's Pins" which could be mail ordered. Made of silver or gold, these pins were inscribed with an individual's name and unit designation. Private vendors who followed troops also offered ornate identification disks for sale just prior to battles. Still, despite the fact that fear of being listed among the unknowns was a real concern among the rank and file, no reference to an official issue of identification tags by the Federal Government exists. (42% of the Civil War dead remain unidentified.)


The first official advocacy of issuing identification tags took place in 1899. Chaplain Charles C. Pierce, who was tasked to establish the Quartermaster Office of Identification in the Philippines, recommended inclusion of an "identity disc" in the combat field kit as the answer to the need for standard identification. The Army Regulations of 1913 made identification tags mandatory, and by 1917, all combat soldiers wore aluminum discs on chains around their necks.



By World War II, the circular disc was replaced by the oblong shape familiar to us today, generally referred to as "dog tags."

Since then, some myths have arisen in connection with the purpose of the identification tags. One of the more common myths involves the reason for the notch on the tag issued between 1941 and the early 1970's. Battlefield rumor held that the notched end of the tag was placed between the front teeth of battlefield casualties to hold the jaws in place.

No official record of American soldiers being issued these instructions exists; the only purpose of "the notch" was to hold the blank tag in place on the embossing machine. The machine used at this time doesn't require a notch to hold he blank in place, hence, today's tags are smooth on all sides.

Thee sole purpose of the identification tag is stated by its designation. Tags found around the neck of a casualty, and only those tags found around the neck, stay with the remains at all times tags found any place besides around the neck are made note of in the Record of Personal Effects of Deceased Personnel, and placed in an effects bag. They are not removed unless there is a need to temporarily inter the remains. If there is only one tag present, another is made to match the first. If the remains are unidentified, two tags marked "unidentified" are made. One tag is interred with the individual, the other placed on a wire ring in the sequence of the temporary cemetery plot. This enables Graves Registration personnel to make positive identification of remains during disinterment procedures; when the remains are disinterred, the tag on the wire ring is removed and placed with the matching tag around the neck.

The Department of the Army has developed and is currently testing a new tag, which will hold 80% of a soldier's medical and dental data on a microchip. Known as the Individually Carried Record, it is not intended to replace the present tag, but rather to augment it as part of the "paperless battlefield" concept.


This development is in keeping with the Army's dedication to positively identify each and every fallen soldier. The yellow TacMedCS being tested by the Marines uses radio frequency technology, electronics and global-positioning systems to pin-point wounded.


The Armed Forces make every possible effort to eradicate discrepancies and remove doubts about casualties, not least those doubts that families may hold concerning the demise of their loved ones. In recent years, a near perfect record of identifying service members who have died in the line of duty has been achieved, a far cry from the 58% rate of identification that stood during the Civil War. The ID tag has, been and remains a major part of the reason for this record. Are you wearing your ID tags today? Too many military personnel, particularly those who are part of the peacetime force stationed in CONUS (Continental United States), forget how vital those tags can be, forget that as soldiers they are always on the line. Wearing your ID tags is one of the easiest actions you can make towards achieving total readiness, so take those tags out of your dresser and put them around your neck. Remember -the simple information contained on that small aluminum tag can speak for you if you can't speak for yourself; it could mean the difference between a positive identification and an uncertain future for those who survive you, should your identity be "...known only to God."
We've come a long way from tieing pieces of wood around our necks.

This article was written CPT Richard W. Wooley was Chief of Individual Training. Graves Registration Department (now the Mortuary Affairs Center), U.S. Army Quartermaster School, Fort Lee, Virginia.
____________

I read somewhere that dog tags were issued each with it's own separate chain of different lengths so that the tags would not hang together and make noise. Rubber silencers were also available I believe starting with WWII.

An army field medic once told me that on the battlefield they were supposed to collect one of a dead soldier's tags and place the other one in the dead soldier's mouth.
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20-Dec-2004, 01:27 PM #4
Found this for you HS!

Marine Corps Body Art (Tattoo) Policy

The Marine Corps takes a conservative approach to personal appearance. Uniform regulations stress that personal appearance is to be conservative and commensurate with the high standards traditionally associated with the Marine Corps. No eccentricities in dress or appearance are permitted because they detract from uniformity and team identity.

Per MCBUL 1020.34 of 16 may 96, the Marine Corps uniform regulation is changed to prohibit tattoos or brands on the neck and the head. In other areas of the body, tattoos or brands that are prejudicial to good order, discipline and morale or are of a nature to bring discredit upon the Marine Corps are also prohibited. Tattoos, body piercing, and non-dental tooth crowns are identified as body art and commanders are tasked with upholding current regulations regarding eccentric appearance.

Four criteria will be used to evaluate tattoos and brands to see if they comply with Marine Corps standards. These criteria are content, location, size, and effect of associating the Marine Corps and the Marine Corps uniform with the tattoo or brand.

Content. Every tattoo and brand will be viewed to determine if it is representative of gang, racist, sexist, drug, or other prohibited activity. These types of tattoos and brands are prohibited.

Location. Tattoos and brands are prohibited on the head and neck. If they are visible on the arms or legs in the service "C" uniform, they are prohibited.

Size. Tattoos and brands will be evaluated on their size and color. Large and colorful tattoos and brands, especially on the arms and legs will be screened to determine if they are eccentric or project a non-conservative personal appearance. Tattoos and brands that are eccentric or project a non-conservative personal appearance are prohibited.

Association with the Marine Corps and the Marine Corps uniform. All tattoos and brands will be evaluated on the cost that they would have on morale, the maintenance of good order and discipline, leadership potential, and public perception. Marines that possess tattoos and brands that are not in keeping with the standards and traditions of the Marine Corps will be required to have the tattoo(s) removed at their own expense.

http://usmilitary.about.com/od/marines/l/bltattoo.htm
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20-Dec-2004, 01:50 PM #5
I often wondered why the Armed forces haven't implimented a voluntary sub-dermal electronic implant for finding captured, wounded, or KIA soldiers and airmen.

When released from combat duty, the implant could be easily removed.

Of course, if the enemy were to get their hands on the frequency, their targeting would be devastating.

It is probably already happening without public knowledge to prevent sabotage.
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20-Dec-2004, 04:09 PM #6
Thats all very interesting, Thanks! I wish I had kept that issue of Newsweek to look at that picture again (the one with the soldiers and their information tattood onto their bodies) and see what the caption was. It was in one of the last 3 or 4 past issues. I think maybe "special forces" soldiers might be the ones with the tattood information on their bodies?
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20-Dec-2004, 04:12 PM #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by hotskates
Thats all very interesting, Thanks! I wish I had kept that issue of Newsweek to look at that picture again (the one with the soldiers and their information tattood onto their bodies) and see what the caption was. It was in one of the last 3 or 4 past issues. I think maybe "special forces" soldiers might be the ones with the tattood information on their bodies?
Well, if it's tattoed on...it's ALWAYS there. It's not on a tag that could be lost, or a data tag that the doctor can't read.

By tattooing your blood type, name, and other pertinent info, you can get medical aid you may need asap, and you are identifiable!
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hotskates's Avatar
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20-Dec-2004, 04:31 PM #8
Gibble, I think its a great idea to tattoo the information on. Even better would be if they could use an ink that would last for 5 years or so, so that when they come out of the service, it would fade away.
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20-Dec-2004, 04:35 PM #9
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Originally Posted by hotskates
Gibble, I think its a great idea to tattoo the information on. Even better would be if they could use an ink that would last for 5 years or so, so that when they come out of the service, it would fade away.
What would it hurt to have it for life?

I mean, that person could get in a car accident, whatever...and hey...the blood type is right there!
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20-Dec-2004, 04:44 PM #10
Good point gibble And, if the tattoo is under the arm pit or somewhere else thats covered up most of the time, no one would ever see it. You know, someday in the future, we might all have some type of identification on our bodies.......tattoos, microchips, etc.
I went to school with triplets and once asked them how their mother could tell them apart when they were babies? They each had a dot tattood under their armpit. l, 2 and 3. It was a tiny tiny dot, but its still there.That was about 35 years ago. Kinda cool I thought. I wonder if they do that with all babies of multiple births now days.
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20-Dec-2004, 04:48 PM #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by hotskates
Good point gibble And, if the tattoo is under the arm pit or somewhere else thats covered up most of the time, no one would ever see it. You know, someday in the future, we might all have some type of identification on our bodies.......tattoos, microchips, etc.
I went to school with triplets and once asked them how their mother could tell them apart when they were babies? They each had a dot tattood under their armpit. l, 2 and 3. It was a tiny tiny dot, but its still there.That was about 35 years ago. Kinda cool I thought. I wonder if they do that with all babies of multiple births now days.
Interesting!

We tell our friends apart, because Mickey wears a shirt that says "Not Jimmy", rofl, ok, he only did that once that I've seen, but it was funny.
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20-Dec-2004, 07:36 PM #12
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Originally Posted by Gibble
Interesting!

We tell our friends apart, because Mickey wears a shirt that says "Not Jimmy", rofl, ok, he only did that once that I've seen, but it was funny.
Ha Gibble you are too funny That reminds me of the t-shirts "Stupid" and "I'm with Stupid"
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21-Dec-2004, 08:30 PM #13
Oh, by all means, the government should use a tattoo instead of dog-tags.

And underneath the service number, write "Arbeit Macht Frei".
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21-Dec-2004, 08:36 PM #14
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Originally Posted by DNeurococo
Oh, by all means, the government should use a tattoo instead of dog-tags.

And underneath the service number, write "Arbeit Macht Frei".
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01-Mar-2008, 04:41 AM #15
The dog tags that are tattooed into your body are not necessarily something just 'cause you're in combat. It's your pride for your country and what you're doing. I got my tags tattooed into me, along with my grandfather's, because of my honor to my country. As for the person who said they should have an ink that leaves after 5 years...well not everyone only joins for their 5 years and leaves. Really, only about half do that. This is why E-1 through E-4 are usually not treated as well. They are first term. This is also why the higher the rank, the more respect they demand. As a marine and as a member of the forces, I have the pride for my country to tattoo my name and service into me for life. I don't know how the other branches do it, but once a marine, always a marine. Even after your 4 or 8 or 12 years or however long.
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