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#1
Old 07-19-2012, 11:53 AM
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Marine Dog Tags stuck between teeth

In a half-remembered episode of NCIS, Gibbs is exhuming a Marine from Iwo Jima for evidence of a murder by a Medal of Honor recipient.

It is noted that the remains has the dog tag jammed between the teeth.


Gibbs informs...somebody ...that the tags were wedged between the teeth and the jaws slammed shut, to keep the mouth closed, or something.

Is this accurate, or just something made up for the show?

If true, how is this not abusing a corpse?
#2
Old 07-19-2012, 12:12 PM
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There is a disturbing scene in the movie "A Midnight Clear", where the graves people place a dog tag in between the front teeth, then smack the jaw shut with a mallet. Whether this was common practice in the battlefield is unknown to me. However, when a service member is killed, one tag is collected and the other stays with the body to insure identification later, if necessary. Inserting it into the teeth would insure that it remained with the corpse.

The purpose of the notch as an aid to that process has been debunked by Snopes, who quotes the military's Graves Registration as a source. The notch is just a remnant from the embossing machine.

Last edited by Chefguy; 07-19-2012 at 12:13 PM.
#3
Old 07-19-2012, 12:20 PM
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And the Snopes article was based on this: http://qmfound.com/short_history...ation_tags.htm. Per Capt Wooley, of the Graves Registration Department, "Thee(sic) 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." So I guess a tag found in the mouth doesn't really count, as the soldier may have been snacking on it when he was killed.

Hey, the reality is so much more boring than the legend that I needed to make it a bit more grisly.

ETA: Note that Capt Wooley is of the Army Graves Registration Department. What Marines do with their dog tags is anybody's guess and probably not something we want to look into too deeply.

Last edited by dropzone; 07-19-2012 at 12:24 PM.
#4
Old 07-19-2012, 12:32 PM
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Supposedly the reason for doing this was if the body decomposed, the tag would remain stuck between the upper teeth of the skull and the reason for the notch in the tag was to align it and keep it from slipping out as you sammed the jaw shut.

But as stated, this was all a myth and the real reason for the notch was to align the tag in a machine.

My dad, who served in WWII, said this was told was told tongue-in-cheek to new recruits when they were first issued thier dog tags. He used to tell us kids that when showing us his dog tags. He also used to tell us kids that since he wore false teeth (which he didn't get until many years after his service, but us kids didn't know that) that since he didn't have real teeth for them to stick the tag between, he was required to carry a 16d nail in his pocket so his tag could be nailed to his forehead if he got killed.
#5
Old 07-19-2012, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by TXCowboy View Post
Supposedly the reason for doing this was if the body decomposed, the tag would remain stuck between the upper teeth of the skull and the reason for the notch in the tag was to align it and keep it from slipping out as you sammed the jaw shut.

But as stated, this was all a myth and the real reason for the notch was to align the tag in a machine.

My dad, who served in WWII, said this was told was told tongue-in-cheek to new recruits when they were first issued thier dog tags. He used to tell us kids that when showing us his dog tags. He also used to tell us kids that since he wore false teeth (which he didn't get until many years after his service, but us kids didn't know that) that since he didn't have real teeth for them to stick the tag between, he was required to carry a 16d nail in his pocket so his tag could be nailed to his forehead if he got killed.
I would also point out that today's tags no longer have a notch. The Army is apparently fooling around with creating a dog tag with an information chip imbedded.

An aside: a few years ago I was contacted by someone who spotted my name on a Vietnam dog tag retrieval website. I lost track of my dog tags after Vietnam and never bothered to replace them, regs be damned. Apparently people have gone to Vietnam and retrieved piles of tags that have been found by locals at different military camps, etc. One of them was mine. I contacted them and they sent it to me, no charge. Had my original (pre-SSN) serial number on it.
#6
Old 07-19-2012, 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Chefguy View Post
...I contacted them and they sent it to me, no charge. Had my original (pre-SSN) serial number on it.
Cool! How did it look? Really rusty or corroded? Have you since cleaned it, or left it as-is?
#7
Old 07-20-2012, 12:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir View Post
Cool! How did it look? Really rusty or corroded? Have you since cleaned it, or left it as-is?
As-is. It was tarnished, but not rusted, as they were made of aluminum.
#8
Old 07-20-2012, 12:20 AM
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Originally Posted by TXCowboy View Post
My dad, who served in WWII, said this was told was told tongue-in-cheek to new recruits when they were first issued thier dog tags.
This was my experience, too. I served during the 1980s and 90s.
#9
Old 07-20-2012, 12:21 AM
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Chefguy, that's a cool story.
#10
Old 07-20-2012, 12:33 AM
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When I went through training with US Army Quartermaster corp we had a couple days training from a Graves Registration sergeant.

Mentioned the notch thing being an urban legend and a Hollywood thing.

Apparently, kicking a piece of metal in between the teeth is a good way to make life difficult when using dental records to identify remains.
#11
Old 07-20-2012, 11:55 AM
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A wounded man would be unlikely to put the dog tags in his own mouth. It might serve as a simple way for a medic to indicate "don't waste your time with this one" to other medics that might follow.
#12
Old 07-20-2012, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Kevbo View Post
A wounded man would be unlikely to put the dog tags in his own mouth. It might serve as a simple way for a medic to indicate "don't waste your time with this one" to other medics that might follow.
Nope. Medics have more reliable (ie, not going to fall out of someone's mouth) methods of triaging casualties (not to mention that if the casualty is even a little bit alive, medical training dictates that you don't go sticking things in his mouth).
#13
Old 07-20-2012, 02:05 PM
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Have to note that now all new troops get a DNA sample taken and put on file. There probably won't be another unknown soldier.
#14
Old 07-20-2012, 02:15 PM
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Re: bodies and the identification thereof, I have a slightly related anecdote that I haven't told in a couple of years and which I trot out whenever I can, so here goes:

In college, I worked for awhile in an engraving shop. Nameplates for desks, rubber stamps, notary embossers, etc. One of the jobs we did while I was there involved engraving tiny little numbers on small tabs of metal about half the size of a tic-tac, but not as thick.

I asked what they were.

The were, basically, dog tags. One of our biggest clients was a local textiles & chemicals manufacturer, and I was told that certain jobs at their plant involved chemicals that were so caustic that, should there be an accident, there would be almost nothing left of the victims to identify.

The little tabs we were engraving with numbers would be put into the potential victims' mouths like dental fillings to allow speedy identification of their presumably otherwise unrecognizable remains.

It was, no question, the closest I've ever come to being so creeped out by my own job that I couldn't do it.

Last edited by KneadToKnow; 07-20-2012 at 02:15 PM.
#15
Old 07-20-2012, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Loach View Post
Have to note that now all new troops get a DNA sample taken and put on file. There probably won't be another unknown soldier.
Could be. We don't even have an Unknown Soldier for Vietnam anymore: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Blassie

Quote:
Originally Posted by KneadToKnow View Post
...The little tabs we were engraving with numbers would be put into the potential victims' mouths like dental fillings to allow speedy identification of their presumably otherwise unrecognizable remains....
What, their employees would consent to invasive dental work so they could maybe later be ID'd? Sorry, but my BS meter is going off.
#16
Old 07-20-2012, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by echo7tango View Post
Chefguy, that's a cool story.
Apparently the Vietnamese, after realizing that ex-military types were interested in purchasing old dog tags, started manufacturing them and artificially aging them. I believe mine to be the original item, as the service number is correct. Wish I could find that peace symbol I wore in their place.

Last edited by Chefguy; 07-20-2012 at 03:18 PM.
#17
Old 07-20-2012, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir View Post
What, their employees would consent to invasive dental work so they could maybe later be ID'd? Sorry, but my BS meter is going off.
I'm only relating what I was told.
#18
Old 07-21-2012, 04:19 AM
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Chefguy, there is an industry of counterfeiting dog tags and Zippo lighters but there are still a lot of real ones floating around. Your AO in Vietnam had not been touched in 1997 when I was there. I tried to do a sweep of our AO with a metal detector in 1998 and was arrested. Good chance your tags are the real thing. In 1999 I worked with Mr. Hau helping dig the footings for the new Khe san museum . We found many dog tags, cig lighters, marine badges,medal, all kind of stuff. We were excavating on approximately the old Khe san hospital and graves registration sight. Body's were kept in refrigerated container until they could be flown to grave reg in Danang. As for your peace symbol . I cant give you the real thing but here is a link to a picture of you wearing it on Christmas day of 1968. The only time they gave us a full day off. http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r...d_Ogre/001.jpg
#19
Old 07-21-2012, 05:00 AM
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I would be so amused if Chefguy comes back and says, "uh . . . do I know you?!"
#20
Old 07-21-2012, 06:07 AM
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Old Seabee -All knowing, All seeing. Kilroy has nothing on me !!!
#21
Old 07-21-2012, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Old Seabee View Post
Old Seabee -All knowing, All seeing. Kilroy has nothing on me !!!
Yeah, I'm sure there won't be any blowback from you posting that photo! I used to do that impersonation when I was in high school, which always got a laugh. Hard to believe I was ever that young and scrawny. And perhaps naive.

Last edited by Chefguy; 07-21-2012 at 10:48 AM.
#22
Old 07-21-2012, 04:43 PM
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In 1968 there was an old Gunny Sargent who used to come over to our hooch area and tell us war stories . During WW2 he had been in the landings of Kajalein and Iwo Jima . He said the body's were brought to Company areas (a lot of bodies!!) one tag was kept by the company the other tag was put in the mouth of the dead with the chain still around the neck. Because the bodies were loaded on jeeps and trucks (in piles) there was the possibility of the chain getting broke and the tag being lost. So if the chain gets broke the tag is still on the body. When time allowed the dog tag was lased onto the shoe lace of dead Marines combat boot ! True or false, I don't know. By the way the Gunny Sargent that told that story was killed by a 122mm rocket, I have his name and the after action report of the rocket attack he was killed in.
#23
Old 07-21-2012, 04:53 PM
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I have heard tales of soldiers and marines getting extra copies of their dog tags, and lacing them to their boots, in case their heads got blown off. This is thirdhand rumor, though, so take it with a grain of salt.
#24
Old 07-21-2012, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Old Seabee View Post
In 1968 there was an old Gunny Sargent who used to come over to our hooch area and tell us war stories . During WW2 he had been in the landings of Kajalein and Iwo Jima . He said the body's were brought to Company areas (a lot of bodies!!) one tag was kept by the company the other tag was put in the mouth of the dead with the chain still around the neck. Because the bodies were loaded on jeeps and trucks (in piles) there was the possibility of the chain getting broke and the tag being lost. So if the chain gets broke the tag is still on the body. When time allowed the dog tag was lased onto the shoe lace of dead Marines combat boot ! True or false, I don't know. By the way the Gunny Sargent that told that story was killed by a 122mm rocket, I have his name and the after action report of the rocket attack he was killed in.
That wasn't Gunny Cooper, was it?
#25
Old 07-21-2012, 10:35 PM
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Gunny Owens, he was a real BSer. Wasn't in the Corps long enough to have been at Iwo Jima. But would have heard about from those who were there. He was killed by a 122 on July 23 1968 the night before we took the 122 that took out our guys on July 24.
#26
Old 07-21-2012, 11:41 PM
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Originally Posted by mbh View Post
I have heard tales of soldiers and marines getting extra copies of their dog tags, and lacing them to their boots, in case their heads got blown off. This is thirdhand rumor, though, so take it with a grain of salt.
Not a rumor. I never saw the need to do it but I know plenty of guys who had dog tags laced into their boots. It is a personal choice not an army policy.
#27
Old 07-21-2012, 11:46 PM
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In Jarhead, former Marine sniper Anthony Swofford wrote about getting new dog tags often, practically for every major new assignment. Don't know if that's common. Are they pretty cheap?
#28
Old 07-22-2012, 01:19 AM
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In Vietnam I kept one dog tag laced into my left boot so it wouldn't be in the way while I was working. The other dog tag I kept on the chain and wore while sleeping and whenever we had an inspection. The type of work I did wasn't safe to have it hanging around my neck and besides I didn't like it slapping me in the face all the time !!
#29
Old 07-22-2012, 01:24 AM
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Chefguy said: I lost track of my dog tags
Would you like to explain that Sailor? How the hell did you lose track of your dog tags? I received mine in 1968 and still have them. If they weren't around my neck they were in a safe place. Still got 'em.
And to go back further, I still have my Father's dog tags from WWII. They are brass. I have one and my younger son has the other one. He wears it all the time. I am one proud sonofabitch!
#30
Old 07-22-2012, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Peanuthead View Post
Chefguy said: I lost track of my dog tags
Would you like to explain that Sailor? How the hell did you lose track of your dog tags? I received mine in 1968 and still have them. If they weren't around my neck they were in a safe place. Still got 'em.
And to go back further, I still have my Father's dog tags from WWII. They are brass. I have one and my younger son has the other one. He wears it all the time. I am one proud sonofabitch!
Who you calling a boat person, goddamn it?! We drove BGTs, not LGBs. I don't know what happened to them. Perhaps the chain broke and they just fell off. Maybe I left them in the hootch and one of the mama-sans took them. Maybe some passing Marine thought they were shiny and purty. Beats me.
#31
Old 07-22-2012, 11:38 AM
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What's a BGT?
#32
Old 07-22-2012, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Peanuthead View Post
What's a BGT?
BGT: Big Green Trucks
LGB: Large Gray Boats
#33
Old 07-22-2012, 01:01 PM
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If you ain't got your dog tags, how we know you's who you says you is? Quick: who plays third base for the Yankees?
#34
Old 07-22-2012, 01:05 PM
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Ahhh. Got it.
#35
Old 07-22-2012, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Slithy Tove View Post
Quick: who plays third base for the Yankees?
No, Who's on first.
#36
Old 07-22-2012, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by mbh View Post
I have heard tales of soldiers and marines getting extra copies of their dog tags, and lacing them to their boots, in case their heads got blown off. This is thirdhand rumor, though, so take it with a grain of salt.
Isn't this the practice in the IDF, which did a statistical analysis of death types?

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 07-22-2012 at 05:22 PM.
#37
Old 07-23-2012, 09:01 PM
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What the heck is IDF and what are they analyzing ?
#38
Old 07-23-2012, 09:02 PM
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Your more likely to get your legs blown off than your head !!
#39
Old 07-23-2012, 09:15 PM
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What the heck is IDF and what are they analyzing ?
Israel Defense Forces, I'm guessing, and they're analyzing how to kill people and break things when called upon.
#40
Old 07-23-2012, 09:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Old Seabee View Post
What the heck is IDF and what are they analyzing ?
The IDF is the Israel Defense Forces. The study, from what I remember and might be a figment of my imagination, was of cause of death in soldiers in armored units.

More people were getting their heads blown off than having their feet blown off. Hence the dog tag policy.

I'm sure Alessan can correct my story, which I admit I might have pulled out of my butt.
#41
Old 07-24-2012, 01:53 AM
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Yeah, our boots come with a special slot for dog tags - half a tag in each boot.

Of course, in these days of DNA profiling, they're probably redundant.
#42
Old 07-24-2012, 08:29 AM
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Re DNA profiling, it is, I think, a process far too time consuming--it is not like in the crime TV shows--for it to be feasible for Graves Registration (I think that's what they call it in the US).
#43
Old 07-24-2012, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Leo Bloom View Post
Re DNA profiling, it is, I think, a process far too time consuming--it is not like in the crime TV shows--for it to be feasible for Graves Registration (I think that's what they call it in the US).
Then I wonder why the Army took my DNA sample around 1998 or so? Of course ID tags and cards are easier to use. Most of the time the remains will not be unknown. But DNA is certainly a tool that the military has used for a while now.

http://defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=41418
#44
Old 07-24-2012, 09:09 AM
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Thanks. Ignorance fought.
#45
Old 07-24-2012, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Loach View Post
Not a rumor. I never saw the need to do it but I know plenty of guys who had dog tags laced into their boots. It is a personal choice not an army policy.
I concur with this. A lot of my buddies did this while in the Air Force. I never did, I had a meat-tag (dogtag info tattooed on your body).
#46
Old 07-24-2012, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by RandMcnally View Post
I concur with this. A lot of my buddies did this while in the Air Force. I never did, I had a meat-tag (dogtag info tattooed on your body).
Holy crap. I assume this was allowed....what data?

[BTW, --and this NOT a comparison--in WW II the only German soldiers with ID tattoos were SS, which pointed them out to investigators.]
#47
Old 07-24-2012, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Leo Bloom View Post
Holy crap. I assume this was allowed....what data?

[BTW, --and this NOT a comparison--in WW II the only German soldiers with ID tattoos were SS, which pointed them out to investigators.]
I had name, religion, and NKA (no known allergies).

I figured if I died the odds were very slim that I'd be in one piece, so why not?
#48
Old 07-24-2012, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Leo Bloom View Post
Holy crap. I assume this was allowed....what data?

[BTW, --and this NOT a comparison--in WW II the only German soldiers with ID tattoos were SS, which pointed them out to investigators.]
I think that they just had their blood type tattooed on their armpit.
#49
Old 07-24-2012, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by hajario View Post
I think that they just had their blood type tattooed on their armpit.
Correct.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_blood_group_tattoo

Also confirmed by a neo-Nazi site in America, whose URL I will not print for obvious reasons.
#50
Old 07-30-2016, 02:08 PM
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From a convo I had today with an AF vet:

He told me the teeth thing was true, which I remembered -- from this thread! -- as being bullshit, so he might have been into bullshitting the next part, the reason for the bump:

"You get a larger dog tag and a smaller one; the larger one stays with you and the smaller one is affixed to any limbs fingers, etc., that get blown off and must accompany you, for surgery if wounded or burial."

He was in Tactictical Air Control, which I do believe...

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 07-30-2016 at 02:09 PM.
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