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WWI Dog Tags of Lt. Henry N. Flynt
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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The first known use of identification tags came during the Civil War. The war's bloody battles with their enormous loss of life led many soldiers to make their own tags of wood, drilled to allow for a string to wear it around the neck. Others purchased theirs from vendors who sold custom-made tags to the troops. Identification tags such as these were a matter of personal initiative: more than forty percent of the dead during the war were never identified. The first official distribution of tags was in 1899, during the Philippine Insurrection. Army regulations made this mandatory in 1913, and by 1917 all soldiers wore an aluminum tag around their neck. The information on them varied from unit to unit; some identified the solider, his rank, and his unit; others, such as these worn by Lt. Henry Flynt of the 78th "Lightning" infantry division, simply gave the bearer's name and rank.
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