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Are these R-E-A-L Marine Corps Dogtags?


kfields
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I got these cheap at the antique show and am curious if they are real ones or just one of the many knockoffs you can buy today. I realize that if they are real, they are probably of the style more in use in the last 20 years or so.

No hurt feelings here if they turn out to be junk 😂. To be honest, I'm not sure what Marines and Soldiers tags look like today.

Thanks!

Kim

 

IMG_20221126_171238732~2.jpg

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I'm not much of a tag guy, but I don't know if the Marine Corps ever used notched tags. We were using the oval discs when the Army and AAF we're using botched tags during WWII-Korea...not sure if there was overlap

 

We certainly haven't used them in the last 20 years, though. Officially. Of course, you can buy your own replacement tags from any number of places that don't have to confirm to our stamping machines.

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hello, I served in the USMC in the mid-late 1990's.   I was issued my dog tags at MCRD San Diego.  The tags I have seen issued from San Diego are in this 'reverse' imprint pattern.  The Marines must have been using old dog tag machines as the letters on mine are almost blurry, worse than those shown here.  The "O"'s on mine are completely filled in and indistinct.  The "M"'s are also blurry on mine.  I actually noticed all this back then.  Any time I conducted an inspection on Marines I paid attention to this reverse pattern tags.  Back then I would ask the Marines where they were issued from.  All said MCRD San Diego.  I never observed this from east coast minted Marines.  So it seems to me, at least back then, the Marines at San Diego were using an old worn-out machine.

 

Ironically I was put in charge of making replacement tags for Marines at a base in Okinawa.  Those tags came out in the modern 'Army' style (this is my term I use; I know other branches would have same) with the letters pressed in versus the reverse embossed' version I previously mentioned.

 

I have been issued tags off and on as a DoD contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2004 to about 2016.  All are the typical 'Army' style with letters impressed.

 

So your tags, to me, appear to be west coast issued tags.  But I noticed it only has four numbers on it.  I haven't seen new USMC tags so I do not know if they are only doing 'last four of social security numbers', or if the Marines ae doing some sort of other numbering system.  I have no idea.

 

Another possibility is maybe you guy was able to use the machine himself and didn't want his whole number on there.  I always disliked having my whole ssn on my tags back then.

 

When I was making tags for Marines on Okinawa I could do whatever I wanted.  I made all sorts of 'joke' tags and would swap one or two out on my Marines tags when left unattended.

 

Side story, one of my Marines didn't notice this and was inspected by a staff officer on formal inspection.  I heard later when my Marine pulled out his tags, the officer looked at the tags and noticed the wildly inappropriate phrase on the 2nd (extra) tag.  Apparently it did not go over well.

 

my instinct is they are legit, on an older style dog tag machine.  All based on what I commented on.  Though my 1990's tags are way more worn out than yours.  But maybe the Marines pulled out another older tag making machine in storage.  As a former Marine all my issued gear was old and worn out. I just got used to it.  I hope this info helps and good luck in your search.

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danimal03, thanks for the interesting detailed response. Neat to think these may be 'real' tags after all !

I was curious about the 4 digit number and what it represented and then I started to think maybe it was the last 4 of the social security number. But then I was wondering if Marines still use social security numbers for their ID number, even if it's somewhat obscured by not imprinting all 9 digits on the tags?

Also, what might the 'M' after USMC mean? Thanks much!  Kim

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hello, the "M" behind the number stands for "male". My 1990's issued tags have it on there.  Most tags are issued to males, hence the wear on the letter "M" but also because all tags have "USMC" on there.  I was looking at my issued tags last night and the "M" is totally blown out on mine. way worse than yours.  Like I mentioned as well, the "O" letter is also blown out. Like for "O POS", etc.  it is consistent too.  like half the "O" is missing every time it was stamped.  

 

These "balloony" reverse type letters seem to be from MCRD San Diego.  I know Camp Pendleton would have several dog tag machines but I have never seen a confirmed set come from there.  West coast Marines graduate from MCRD San Diego and would be issued tags from there.  That is what happened to me.  I graduated boot camp at San Diego and was initially assigned to Camp Pendleton.  I had no reason looking for a replacement tag at Pendleton and I doubt many newly enlisted Marines needed a replacement that early on.  

 

It was not until I was sent to Okinawa later in my enlistment.  Marines started asking for replacement (free) dog tags.  I suspect most just want wanted an extra set.  But regardless I was handed a box of blank tags and told to fill replacement orders.  The machine I used on Okinawa was about the size of a trash can if memory serves me correctly.  I would speculate it was from the 1960's or 70's.  Nothing seems to be 'new' in the USMC. 

 

These replacement tags look nothing like the "San Diego-reverse letter" style.  They look like the modern "Army" style.  What is kind of odd is the 'notch' on your tags.  Mine do not have these.  I collect WWII items and have several 'notched' WWII tags.  Given the USMC recycles everything, your tag may have been a left over older 'blank' someone found in a box or drawer, etc.

 

Your tag could be older than I initially thought as well. I was assuming post 2000-ish. But maybe someone got a hold of an old blank, did not want their full SSN on a tag, and had one made on a west coast older machine?.  This is speculation on my part; but having served in the USMC in the late 1990's and having noticed back then, these 'reverse stamped-worn letter' dog tags coming out of MCRD San Diego I lean in this direction.

 

I remember the data plate on my USMC boot camp bunk bed said 1968 on it.  so old stuff still is floating around in the USMC.  I hope this helps.  All this is a guess based on my experience and collecting.  I would not put this out there as total non-sense; but as an assessment based on my experiences. good luck in your research!

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Thanks danimal03. I enjoyed your reminiscing about your time in the Marines and how it relates to this topic. Still attempting to find something out about this particular fellow but nothing yet. Kim

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you are welcome.  happy to try at least to help.  I was looking again my all my tags issued to me over the years.  I alluded to the 'balloon' type font on my west coast issued USMC tags.  Like yours, it is a very distinctive font. it reminds me of like a circa 1960's font.  All my other tags are in the 'WWII' style font.  Similar to the modern 'Times New Roman' font.  I have a few of these 'times new roman' AKA 'Army style' (as I call it) tags I made on Okinawa in USMC (around the year 2000)

 

My other tags were issued to me at Ft. Bliss, TX at the US Army deployment center in 2004.  I have another identical set issued to me at Ft. Benning, GA in 2009. I have another identical set issued by the US Air Force at Shaw AFB, in South Carolina.  I was issued these in 2013.  The only different tags are my 1996 issued MCRD tags like yours.  All others exact same between different Army and Air Force bases. Like I said, I have never seen these 'reverse balloon-type font' tags other than MCRD San Diego issued tags.  I would be curious myself if MCRD San Diego still had these unique tag making machines.

 

I would upload a picture but my tags have my ssn all over them.  But if you google 'dog tag' you will see the common 'times new roman' imprinted style.  Ironically my issued USMC set only has one rubber 'silencer' left like on yours.  I have pretty high confidence yours are good tags.  I am just unsure when they were made.  I think someone got an older style blank.  I have no idea when the USMC stopped using the notched types.  But I know if I found a box of older blanks, I would have used them.  And there are old forgotten items lurking about on these old bases.

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  • 1 month later...

Another pickup today. Is this an example of a current era Navy tag? The tag appears to be a social security number which is why I blotted out the last series of numbers.

1414249634_IMG_20230107_1835184302.jpg.61f0d9770daf4111b718a0e9ae2d0de3.jpg

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hello kfields,

nice pickup.  I assess this is either an early 1990's tag or maybe a little later like in early 2000's tag.  Font is the same as my 1996 issued tags.  The issue is the dies were not worn on your example.  My "O"s and "M"s are blurry as these dies were used over and over again, especially in the USMC.  So my hunch is maybe your tag is a little earlier than mine.  Or maybe the dies were replaced later.  However, my real hunch is there was a separate dog tag making machine on or near MCRD San Diego, reserved for USN personnel.  We had medics assigned to each platoon, etc.  So I could see a USN reserved version reserved for the medics, doctors, etc.  Thant would be my guess.  Or this tag was made in San Diego at some USN facility.  But I would bet $100 this is a southern California-made tag somewhere.  Same odd-ball reverse pattern in same 'balloon animal' type font. The un-damaged die font imprint is the only thing throwing me off a bit. Hence my theories.  I hope this helps. If I get time, I will upload a pic of my 1996 USMC issued tags with obvious die wear in this same font with my SSN blacked out. 

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Cobra 6 Actual

Not actually my area, guys, since I’m Army. But I thought I read somewhere that the letter after “USMC” on the tag was the Gas Mask size. At some point I have seen one with an “S”, presumably for “Small”.

 

Here’s more information (see bottom of page): https://www.mooremilitaria.com/moore-militaria-dog-tag-formats.html

 

Extract from this website:

 

VN USMC STYLE 1 (MARINES)

 

Last Name SMITH

First Initial & Middle Initial J.D.

Service Number (or Social Security), Blood Type 1234567  APOS

USMC followed by Gas Mask Size USMC M

Religious Preference PROTESTANT

 

VN USMC STYLE 2 (MARINES)

 

Last Name SMITH

First Initial & Middle Initial JOHN D

Service Number (or Social Security), Blood Type 123-45-6789  APOS

USMC followed by Gas Mask Size USMC M

Religious Preference PROTESTANT

 

 

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Okay, I did a bit more research and it sounds like the USN and I suppose USMC began to add the gas mask size to the ID tag around 2015. 

Here's another tag I picked up last summer. I assume he was Army as there is no USN or USMC designation. I blocked out some of the social security numbers for privacy. Dates to the 90's or 2000's you think?

1724957459_IMG_20230109_1009561822.jpg.862ed744dee3e1ed509c9e78dd591646.jpg

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On 1/9/2023 at 10:33 AM, kfields said:

Okay, I did a bit more research and it sounds like the USN and I suppose USMC began to add the gas mask size to the ID tag around 2015. 

Here's another tag I picked up last summer. I assume he was Army as there is no USN or USMC designation. I blocked out some of the social security numbers for privacy. Dates to the 90's or 2000's you think?

 

 

They were putting gas mask sizes on tags way earlier than 2015. I don't know when it started, but mine have it from 2004.

 

The problem with dating modern tags is that after boot camp, most troops get replacement tags through shops out in town as it's a much simpler and quicker process than trying to figure out who or where does it on base. After 18+ years in, I still couldn't tell you who is supposed to do it on base, I've heard so many conflicting things over the years.

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Thanks Brig. There is so much misinformation on the internet. That is where first person anecdotal information from people like you or 'danimal03' or 'Cobra6 Actual' who actually lived it is important to the conversation.

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hello, for the "Hysinger" tag above I still think this was made at MCRD San Diego.  The "O"s are a little worn out.  It is that same, "balloon animal" font as I call it.  Very distinctive and like I mentioned, I have never seen this anywhere else.  I would say I saw about a half dozen USMC tags in this style I can confirm were issued at MRCD San Diego.  I would ask Marines where they originated from while doing the few inspections I did in the USMC when I saw this style.  

 

I would take a guess the Hysinger tag is not Army.  I would guess someone may have left it off either accidently or maybe for OPSEC purposes.  Or it may have been made for a Navy civilian stationed at MCRD San Diego.  Or maybe a contractor assigned to a Navy or Marine unit there.  It would be rare, but I am sure they exist.

 

I have deployed many times as a contractor but only with Army and Air Force.  Every time I deployed, I was issued tags, but none had a branch of service.  But all were in the traditional "WWII" "Times New Roman" font.  Exact same as my grandfather's WWII tags or like any other tag I have seen other than this "balloon animal" font.  But all I can base this on is my experience.  Maybe some obscure base out there has this same oddball dog tag machine.

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The Marine Corps doesn't issue contractors dog tags... but like anyone else, they can buy them out in town if they really want some

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Not saying for sure these are "contractor" tags. But they are not likely not, "Oceanside" bought tags.  These are likely somehow USMC or Navy west coast-based tags in my opinion.  If bought off base, someone bought an odd-ball "reverse print balloon animal-pattern" dog tag making machine. I was issued USMC tags in 1996 with the worn out "O" and "M". In the reverse "animal balloon" as seen here. I bought replacement tags in Oceanside and they were in the "WWII" pattern maybe not at the same store, Brig, bought theirs in, but very different.  The pattern "kfields" is posting is in a totally different pattern. I will stand corrected if proven wrong.  But this font is very different.  And in a reverse pattern.  I can post my USMC issued enlisted 1996 issued tags if called upon. The "O"s and "M"'s are blown out.  I served from 1996-2000. and I deployed as a contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan for 4.5 years for the Army and Air Force (2004-2005, 2009-2012, 2016-2017) and the tags were civilian in nature in the "WWII" pattern.  I went on over 200 outside-the wire patrols as a contractor in support of DoD, with, 'neutral' dog tag with the Army and Air Force. So I would not say this is, 'impossible'. 

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Every shop in Oceanside could have had a different model tag stamper...I have bought from half a dozen different vendors over the years and every type was a little bit different. We've all seen those holes in the wall like Saigon Scams which have been running the same equipment for decades. On top of all the people who buy them as a piece of fashion jewelry. That's why modern tags are a nightmare without provenance.

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  • 1 year later...
Neil Henson

Looking for original military dog tags? go to dogtagUS.com  -Here is an idea if you have your original tags remove the silencers and take a photo. keep it in a safe place if you loose your tags or want to make copies to give to family members. send the photo . tags are slightly different depending on the place they are stamped. location of the text, stamped on the flat side or rolled edge side. spaces between some words.  We get calls all the time. I lost my tags and want to get a set just like it. or i have one tags that belonged to my grandfather and want to get a new set for a shadow box with his military stuff.

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