Older set of US Navy Reserve Dog Tags

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.  (Continued below)


Authentic military dog tags, such as those issued by the US Navy, can be purchased from the Armed Forces History Museum in Largo, FL using the link below.  They are also available for purchase in the museum’s store.

Purchase Dog Tags

(Continued from above)

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.


33 Responses to US Navy Dog Tags

  1. John J. Miller says:

    I have a set of my father’s dog tags most likely from WWII as he was on several submarines at that time and 4 combat missions. They are oval like those described for the onset of WWII and contain his name, service number, USN and blood type as well as the letter P below the USN line. I also have a set of the newer notched tags, a card “The Submarine Combat Insignia” which obviously came with his Combat Insignia and 4 Stars, and a Black Rectangular Badge holding his picture on a small card which reads SUB BASE P.H.T.H, his name rank and Sub. Div. 10. I have several other items from that time and I am wondering if they are of any value other than their sentimental value to me.

    • alon2392 says:

      Hi John: I will check with our historian to see if he can shed any light on the items as far as significance. As far as value, we recommend you contact the American Society of Appraiser in Washington, D.C. at 1-800-272-8258 or http://www.appraisers.com. I will contact you via the email you provided once I hear from our historian. Please be sure to check your SPAM folder if you have not heard from us within a week. Thank you for visiting our web-site and for taking the time to post your comment. All of us at the AFHM would like to tell you how much we appreciate your father’s service.

      • cindy higgins says:

        john I have found a dog tag while hiking haven’t had any luck on internet to find out about this guy if still alive ect thought you might help id like to return this to the owner

    • Terry Regan says:

      P.H.T.H = Pearl Harbor Territory of Hawaii

  2. Charlie Dillimore says:

    Yeah g’day. Way back in 1983, I was cleaning my car and when I lifted up one of the floor mats, I found a single aluminium dog tag that looked like it had been there for years. When cleaned up, I found the following details:


    I don’t know why I kept it for the last 30 years but I think it’s time for it to go home to its owner, if he wants it. Are you able to track this person down and find out what he wants done with it. The easy thing would be to throw it away, but you never know, he might be yearning for it ever since he lost it.

    Charlie D.
    Christchurch, New Zealand.

    • alon2392 says:

      I have forwarded your information to our historian to see if he can shed any light on where you might begin looking to find the owner of the tag. That is really an interesting story. How kind of you to hold on to it and to seek the owner. Will let you know when I hear something from our historian.

    • alon2392 says:

      Well, I don’t know how much help this will be for you Charlie, but our historian said about the only way to track him with with the number listed on the tag, but with the security issues, that might be difficult. His only other suggestion was to possibly try looking him up on Facebook, or maybe a Google search. Sorry we could not be of any further service.

    • Audrey Haverkamp says:

      Is the dog tag from WW1 or WW11 or more recent? There is a WW1 draft registration card for a Timothy A Cooper on Ancestry.com. It lists his DOB as 10/14/1887, and DOD as Jan 11, 1958 in Conway, Horry County, South Carolina. He is buried in the Cedar Grove Baptist Church Cemetery, Conway, South Carolina. Not sure if this will help you or not.

      • alon2392 says:

        Thank you for contributing to the search? Appreciate people willing to step up and assist in honor of our military and their families.

  3. Dan Llorens says:

    My Daughter found a dog tag in her great grandmothers button box after “Louise Granny” passed away. She wants me to try and find the connection. the tag has “William Arthur Britt” 637-87-73 T-6/43 O-USNR. would like any info on this person. Thanks and Semper Fi!

    • alon2392 says:

      That can be a bit difficult to say the least. You could check with some of the national libraries (and military branches) and see if they have any info regarding those enlisted in the various military branches. Also, you could do some Google searches using various key words such as “USNR” and “enlisted” and “in 1943″ etc. Just keep using various keyword combinations and checking the sites that come forward. Good luck! That is quite a treasure she found. Maybe check some archives in Louise Granny’s hometown. Maybe it was someone she knew who died in combat. Update us please if you find out any information.

    • Audrey Haverkamp says:

      There is a William Arthur Britt, born Nov 23, 1913,(??) in Sampson County, NC and died 9/14/1999 in Wilson, North Carolina. His WWII Draft card (on Ancestry.com) shows his birthdate as 11/26/1914 (I would assume this is correct as it is his own handwriting), his residence at Newton Grove, Sampson County, NC, his father as John H. Britt from Newton Grove, NC. His serial number was 639 and his Order number was 1731. While the draft registration has his middle name as “Arthur”, he signed his middle name “Arther”. His obituary can be found by contacting the newspaper in Wilson, North Carolina: BRITT, William Arthur “Bill”; 85; Wilson NC; Smithfield H; 1999-9-17; gfree
      BRITT, William Arthur “Bill”; 85; Wilson NC; Smithfield H; 1999-9-21; gfree
      Hope this helps…

  4. Kenneth Carley says:

    I have a World War I dog tag from my father-in-law and on it is the following information. “C.S.REYNOLDS. PVT.QMC.” that is around the outside inside it is “DET AED USNA” with the A underlined. His service number is on the back “2355241″. Would like any information that we can find out what all this stands for. Thank You in advance for any information you can give us.
    Kenneth Carley USN, RET

    • alon2392 says:

      I will forward this information to our historian and see if he can provide any information for you. Thank you for visiting our web-site

    • alon2392 says:

      Here is some information our historian was able to obtain based on what you provided. Hope this is helpful.

      His name is C.S.Reynolds, his rank was a private, QMC stands for Quartermaster Corps, DET stands for detachment, AED stands for Architectural Engineering Directorate, those are the folks that are involved in engineering, structural, mechanical, electrical. USNA stands for United States National Army. Today he would be called a combat engineer.

  5. I am trying to replace/replicate my dad’s dog tags from WWII. Every site I can find limits the info to 5 lines, however my dad’s have 6 lines of info. I have seen the same tags on EBay and they are exactly like my dad’s. Can you recommend a site to have these made?

    Thanks so much


    • alon2392 says:

      Wish we could help you, but yes, throughout the history of the dog tag, many formats were used. Today’s machines only use five lines. Unfortunately I don’t know of any specific sight that can accommodate six lines, but I’d keep searching.

  6. gionesce riel adlawon says:

    hi. .can anyone help me to locate this person WWII
    otha smith
    RT 1 box 270 A
    Hilton Village,VA
    T42 4b
    thats the indication shown in the dog tag. .i found the dog tag when i was digging at our back yard. .
    im gionesce riel adlawon from: Baybay City, Leyte, Philippines
    hoping for any rply. i just want to return this to the family of this person. . thanks

  7. gionesce riel adlawon says:

    hoping for your possible reply soon. . tnx

  8. STEVE COOKE says:


    I am hoping someone can help me out. I came across this site doing a search about dog tags. I’ll try to make this brief…long story short…I am a 47 years old man with 2 little boys, ages 6 and 2. MY father and mother BOTH died when I was 2 years old in 1968. I have no family (with the exception of my wife and 2 sons) to tell me anything about my Dad. The ONLY thing I have of his is a USNR Dog Tag. I cannot afford a genealogy expert to research my family tree and I would love to be able to tell my boys something about their grandfather not to mention how I would love to learn ANYTHING about my Dad.

    Please feel free to email me directly if you can give me ANY information. It would mean the world to me!

    Thank You in advance and God Bless!



    Here is how the Dog Tag reads:


    • alon2392 says:

      So sorry for your loss. Know that we here at the Armed Forces History Museum are most appreciative of your father’s service. Let me do some checking and see if I can get any leads.

  9. gionesce riel adlawon says:

    to ALON 2392:

  10. John C Vineyard says:

    We were cleaning up debris from Peacock Pt on Wake Island in 2013 when we found a USN dog tag. Would like to see if I could return it to the owner or a family member if they want it. Information on tag- HUTSON T.W. 799 13 07 USN PROT. A . Thanks John

  11. BEN says:

    I have my grandad’s WW II Navy dog tags. I understand all the information on it except the last part of the last line.
    What does the “SV” last for?

  12. L. Sally Maitimu says:

    Dear Sir/ Mam,

    I was given a tag by a geologist friend who found the tag in Papua, Indonesia. It was written: Woodrow W. Espy 34440840 T42-3 O Iowa P. Espy Summerville. GA. P

    Based on its finding location, the tag owner must had been served during WW-2 somewhere in Pacific. The information about this tag owner is very limited (Enlisted on September 1942)

    I appreciate if any of you could help me locate the family, so I could give the tag to them. I could be reached through email sallymaitimu@yahoo.com

    Thank you.
    L. Sally Maitimu
    Jl. Enim 36B (74) Tg. Priok
    Jakarta 14330

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