Family Heirlooms: Dog Tags
Maybe you are lucky enough to have some dog tags from a family member or even yourself. For those that wore them close to their heart imagine the stories they could tell. Dog Tags or Military Identification Tags have a long history which is well chronicled here. A soldier wore identification tags so, in the unfortunate circumstance that they were injured or killed, they would be identifiable. The following collection of dog tags were all issued to my grandfather Milo Dean MOSIER.
My grandfather was not career military and yet this collection tells his story quite well. I have written about his WWI service in my earlier post “The Inherited Object Revisited.” The simple aluminum disk marked Milo D. Mosier was issued for his time as an Army Medic during WWI where he served in France.
The rounded rectangular tags on the same aged nylon cord are from his service in the US Army in WWII where he served stateside as a Private at the 60th Base & Air Squadron at Stockton Air Field, California from October 16, 1942 to March 18, 1943. It is not exactly clear to me why he only served for 5 months.
However he did not stay out of service for long, on 12 June 1943 he enlisted in the US Navy for a period of 2 years as a Chief Electrician’s Mate with the 107th Naval Construction Battalion aka the CB’s or Sea Bees. This service is represented by the two tags on the upper left. Here is a code to the tags
- [Last Name] Mosier
- [First Name] [Middle Initial] Milo Dean
- [Serial No.] [Religion Code] 378-37-78 (no religious code)
- [Month and Year of Tetanus] T 8/4/45
- [Blood Type] A
- [Naval Branch] USNR
During this service he was stationed in the Pacific on Tinian Island which is famous for being the island from which the “Enola Gay” departed with its atomic bomb destined for Hiroshima. And 3 days later “Bockscar was originally headed with its bomb for Kokura but the smoke was so heavy it hit the secondary target of Nagasaki. An excerpt from a letter Milo wrote to my grandmother Carrie dated 16 May 1945 (a couple of months before the atomic bombs) ” I suppose you read in the paper about the air raids on Japan. We know many of the crews . We like to watch the Big Ships come home after a heavy mission.”
My father also served in WWII but in the Marine Corps and he spent some time on Tinian and was lucky enough to meet up with his dad, Milo. Sadly I do not have his dog tags, but I do have this photo of them together.
My father ended up being among the first US troops to reach Nagasaki after the bomb….so many stories buried here. The final set of tags I am not sure of they are the ones on the bottom left. I suspect these are something to do with his post war civilian service at Mare Island where he was an Electrician on Nuclear submarines. I am guessing the “A” was for his blood type and the “P” for Protestant. (I had not known his blood type before this deeper dive!) If someone recognizes these drop me a line. Each time I explore a family heirloom it draws me a little deeper into the story. What stories are hiding in your own family treasures. If you have any dog tags feel free to share in the comments.
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