Regular Army :

All serial numbers start with digit 1, while the second digit indicates Corps Area or Service Command . The War Department allotted a sequence of 100,000 numbers to each “Department”, and a series of 1,000,000 numbers to each “Corps Area” or “Service Command” . (Corps Areas were designated Service Commands July 22, 1942) . As per AR 615-30, February 12, 1942, Corps Area Commanders were charged with assignment of Army Serial Numbers to all Enlisted Men within their respective areas . Following blocks were assigned to men enlisted in the Regular Army on, or after July 1, 1940 .

Hawaiian Department =
Panama Canal Department =
Philippine Department =
Puerto Rican Department =
First Corps Area =
Second Corps Area =
Third Corps Area =
Fourth Corps Area =
Fifth Corps Area =
Sixt Corps Area =
Seventh Corps Area =
Eighth Corps Area =
Ninth Corps Area =
range from 10,100,000 > 10,199,999
range from 10,200,000 > 10,299,999
range from 10,300,000 > 10,399,999
range from 10,400,000 > 10,499,999
range from 11,000,000 > 11,999,999
range from 12,000,000 > 12,999,999
range from 13,000,000 > 13,999,999
range from 14,000,000 > 14,999,999
range from 15,000,000 > 15,999,999
range from 16,000,000 > 16,999,999
range from 17,000,000 > 17,999,999
range from 18,000,000 > 18,999,999
range from 19,000,000 > 19,999,999


National Guard :

All serial numbers start with digits 20, while the third digit indicates Corps Area or Service Command (i.e. the area of Induction) . The War Department allotted following blocks to members of National Guard units inducted into Federal Service .

Hawaiian Department =
Puerto Rican Department =
First Corps Area =
Second Corps Area =
Third Corps Area =
Fourth Corps Area =
Fifth Corps Area =
Sixt Corps Area =
Seventh Corps Area =
Eighth Corps Area =
Ninth Corps Area =
range from 20,010,000 > 20,019,999
range from 20,020,000 > 20,029,999
range from 20,100,000 > 20,199,999
range from 20,200,000 > 20,299,999
range from 20,300,000 > 20,399,999
range from 20,400,000 > 20,499,999
range from 20,500,000 > 20,599,999
range from 20,600,000 > 20,699,999
range from 20,700,000 > 20,799,999
range from 20,800,000 > 20,899,999
range from 20,900,000 > 20,999,999


Draftees :

All serial numbers start with digit 3, followed by the second digit indicating Corps Area or Service Command . The War Department allotted following blocks for Trainees or Draftees inducted under the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940.

Hawaiian Department =
Panama Canal Department =
Philippine Department =
Puerto Rican Department =
First Corps Area =
Second Corps Area =
Third Corps Area =
Fourth Corps Area =
Fifth Corps Area =
Sixt Corps Area =
Seventh Corps Area =
Eighth Corps Area =
Ninth Corps Area =
range from 30,100,000 > 30,199,999
range from 30,200,000 > 30,299,999
range from 30,300,000 > 30,399,999
range from 30,400,000 > 30,499,999
range from 31,000,000 > 31,999,999
range from 32,000,000 > 32,999,999
range from 33,000,000 > 33,999,999
range from 34,000,000 > 34,999,999
range from 35,000,000 > 35,999,999
range from 36,000,000 > 36,999,999
range from 37,000,000 > 37,999,999
range from 38,000,000 > 38,999,999
range from 39,000,000 > 39,999,999


WAC :

First digit of all serial numbers already indicates the specific Service Command . The War Department allotted following ranges .

First Corps Area =
Second Corps Area =
Third Corps Area =
Fourth Corps Area =
Fifth Corps Area =
Sixt Corps Area =
Seventh Corps Area =
Eighth Corps Area =
Ninth Corps Area =
range from 100,000 > 199,999
range from 200,000 > 299,999
range from 300,000 > 399,999
range from 400,000 > 499,999
range from 500,000 > 599,999
range from 600,000 > 699,999
range from 700,000 > 799,999
range from 800,000 > 899,999
range from 900,000 > 999,999


Remark 1: religion P (Protestant) C (Catholic) H (Hebrew) in case the soldier had no specific religious preference, NO letter was printed ! Jewish soldiers could elect to drop the H designation in the E.T.O., and leave a vacant space, or replace same with P, if preferred . Dog Tag silencers were introduced around the end of the war, in order to prevent clanking of the metal elements . There were also special series for the Officer’s Reserve Corps (ORC) O-517501, National Guard O-502824, Officers (directly appointed from civil life) O-184747, Officer Candidate School (OCS) O-1287802, and the US Coast & Geodetic Survey (Army) Department (prefix K) . For Identification Tags, it should be noted that there are many changes related to temporary wartime shortages of strategic materials, involving manufacturing of these items in monel, brass, steel, and stainless steel

Remark 2: due to the enormous increase in numbers of servicemen and women, the War Department was obliged to introduce additional blocks of numerals – furthermore some Service Commands inducted more than 1,000,000 men ! Consequently, the W.D. launched a new series of digits in January 1943 for Draftees starting with prefix 4, immediately followed by the second digit (indicating Corps Area/Service Command); as a result of this, the Second Service Command received a new series starting from 42,000,000 > 42,999,999, also the Third Service Command was allotted a new box ranging from 43,000,000 > 43,999,999, and so was the Fourth Service Command equally provided with another series of numerals starting from 44,000,000 > 44,999,999 ! This explains the introduction of series starting with digit 4 . I encountered several samples i.e. servicemen with ASN 42007894, ASN42076794, ASN 42084227, ASN 42143972 – first digit 4 points to a new series introduced for Draftees, while digit 2 indicates the man originates from Second Service Command/Corps Area … and more Draftees with ASN 43017476 from Third Service Command … and ASN 44016202, ASN 44031392, ASN 44035925, and ASN 44160430 … from Fourth Service Command

Remark 3: after WWI, a first prefix letter was to become standard from 28 March 1919, this was introduced for WWI Veterans with an ASN lower than 6,000,000 who re-enlisted, such as ASN R56595, R316459, ASN R1239164, ASN R2376621, ASN R5422378 (highest number recorded in WWI was 5,996,630) . When recruiting was resumed, a box starting from 6,000,000 was introduced – it applied to Volunteers signing up for Regular Army service as from 1 March 1919, with a numbering going further upward to 7,070,199 - last number applicable on 30 June 1940 . The large increase in Army personnel (due to measures, such as calling up the National Guard for Federal service, and the number of Reserve Officers and Selective Service Trainees, becoming available) called for new ‘boxes’ of Serial Numbers to be introduced (numbering up to 8 digits) . However, ALL military personnel already having an Army Serial Number prior to 1 July 1940, were to retain their current ASN (numbering 7 digits only) . It should be noted that Volunteers with ASN starting with digit 6 would have been older than the average Volunteer and/or Draftee, inducted at the outbreak of World War II ! Sofar I’ve come across quite a number of these particular Dog Tags (such as ASN 6047961, ASN 6142278, ASN 6282652, ASN 6546135, ASN 6614153, ASN 6714785, ASN 6800169, ASN 6954193, ASN 6999329, and I also found ASN 7000141, ASN 7002613 and ASN 7040347)
NOTE : new AR 615-30 dated 19 July 1921 stated the following : when a man whose ASN was less than 6,000,000, re-enlists or is returned to active duty, the letter R will be prefixed to the re-assigned number – a man who entered service on or before 28 February 1919, will be assigned a number less than 6,000,000 – a man who entered the Army or who returned to active duty from retirement after 28 February 1919, will be assigned a number greater than 6,000,000 …

Remark 4: about brass Dog Tags; in December 1940, the Army had to make a choice between brass or monel – they chose the latter (stronger alloy with brass & nickel content) because nickel was on the list of critical items. Brass was used as a substitute standard in mid 1941, but by the end of 1942 due to a large growth of the US Armed Forces, there was a shortage of both brass and monel, and now also brass was on the shortage list of critical items; so the Army had to look again for another solution, by end March of 1942, stainless steel became the substitute material . Although steel was also on the critical list, it was somehow still available in fairly larger numbers (as compared to some other raw materials) for other applications, like Dog Tags ! Because of the continuous evolution in war industry, material shortages of different metals and/or metal alloys appeared on several occasions, whereby the Army still issued smaller lots of steel and monel Identification Tags (quantities still available in some depots), this variety in production only stopped end 1943 – early 1944, when production reverted only to stainless steel ! (let’s not forget that by May 1945, the Army numbered over 8 million men and women)

Remark 5: the A.R.C. (American Red Cross) through its millions of Volunteers provided comfort and aid to members of the Armed Forces and their families, they served in ZI hospitals suffering from severe shortages of medical staff, produced emergency supplies for war victims, collected blood, money, scrap, and ran Victory Gardens, they further maintained training programs in home nutrition, first aid and water safety . Overseas, American Red Cross workers served as Field Directors providing compassionate and moral support for the troops they accompanied, while women mostly operated Clubs & Canteens and traveling Clubmobiles (‘Donut Girls’), they acted as social workers and arranged for recreational programs . As nurses they were actively attached to Military Hospitals, Hospital Ships, and Hospital Trains ! Although wearing different uniforms and insignia, A.R.C. personnel did however wear regular Army Identification Tags ! I have not been able to find out whether specific numbers (or boxes) were allotted to the A.R.C., but what I do know is that, for the second line, they used prefix ARC, followed by a number of numerals, such as ARC 28774 (preceded by standard data i.e. first name, second initial, surname tetanus immunization blood type religion) . USO personnel, War Correspondents, Photographers, Specialists, and Civilians working for or accompanying the Army also had to wear ID Tags (but I haven't been able to find anything on the subject)
NOTE : another particular series of Service Numbers had prefix Z, as used by members of the Merchant Marine (e.g. Z-68236, Z-97240, Z-333031, Z-403573) . Neither the Navy nor the Marine Corps have been included in this study, for this would lead us far beyond the scope of this document

Remark 6: towards the end of 1967, the Army announced its intention to drop the use of Army Serial Numbers ! Between 1967 and 1969, before switching to Social Security Numbers, most Identification Tags had both indications, i.e. ASN SSAN ! Finally ASNs were dropped June 30, 1969, and as such the new data (on Dog Tags) looked as follows: 1st line = SURNAME, 2nd line = FIRST NAME INITIAL, 3rd line = SOCIAL SECURITY ACCOUNT NUMBER, 4th line = BLOOD TYPE RHESUS FACTOR, 5th line = RELIGION

Remark 7: a lot of further modifications took place in the immediate postwar years, resulting in the introduction of new and additional prefixes, such as RA (1947), new boxes with ASN numbers (1948), additional prefixes A-AA-AD-AF-AO-NG-US-WA-WR (1949), replacing the Army Serial Number designation by Army Service Number, new prefixes BR-FR-PS-RM-RO-RP-UR-WL-WM (1953-1960), tetanus inoculation dropped (1959), introduction of OF prefix, in lieu of O (1964), disappearance of "notch" in Tags (1967), introduction of Social Security Account Number (SSAN-1968), etc. …

Important: in order to enable collectors to trace the origin of some ASN embossed on dog Tags, or encountered on documents, you’ll find herewith the listing of Army and Corps Area (later called Service Commands) in use during WW2 :

First Army Area
First Corps Area (Maine-New Hampshire-Vermont-Massachusetts-Rhode Island-Connecticut) HQ=Boston, Mass. Second Corps Area (New Jersey-Delaware-New York) HQ=Governors Island, N.Y. Third Corps Area (Pennsylvania-Maryland-Virginia-District of Columbia) HQ=Baltimore, Md.

Second Army Area
Fifth Corps Area (Ohio-West Virginia-Indiana-Kentucky) HQ=Ft. Hayes, Ohio Sixth Corps Area (Illinois-Michigan-Wisconsin) HQ=Chicago, Ill.

Third Army Area
Fourth Corps Area (North Carolina-South Carolina-Georgia-Florida-Alabama-Tennessee-Mississippi-Louisiana) HQ=Atlanta, Ga. Eighth Corps Area (Texas-Oklahoma-Colorado-New Mexico-Arizona (partly) HQ= Ft. Sam Houston, Tex.

Fourth Army Area
Seventh Corps Area (Missouri-Kansas-Arkansas-Iowa-Nebraska-Minnesota-North Dakota-South Dakota) HQ=Omaha, Nebr. Ninth Corps Area (Washington-Oregon-Idaho-Montana-Wyoming-Utah-Nevada-Arizona (partly)-California-Alaska (attached) HQ=Presidio of San Francisco, Calif.

There were also 4 other Departments (US overseas possessions): Hawaii, Panama Canal Zone, Puerto Rico and the Philippines (prior to their seizure by Japan)


Dog Tag example: Clarence R. JONES 37337566 can be identified as being a draftee (digit 3) originating from Seventh Corps Area (digit 7), while his folks lived in Colorado (Eighth Corps Area)

NOTES: The Quartermaster Corps is charged with the storage and issue of Identification Tags and embossing machines for use therewith – the Medical Department is charged with the storage and issue of machines f or transcribing entries from Identification Tags - machines for transcribing data from Identification Tags, complete with instruction books, will be issued to such personnel of the Medical Department, as may be designated by The Surgeon general (Cineral (Circular N°151, 3 December 1940) above was necessary, since the Medical Department was responsible for registration of vaccine inoculation and blood type .

Tags: main supplier of ‘Monel’ tags, H.K. Metal Craft Mfg. Co., New York, U.S.A. (early type of identification tag)

Necklaces: main supplier, The Napier Co., Meriden, Connecticut, U.S.A. (traditional chains with hooks & catches); The Bead Chain Mfg. Co., Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S.A. (beads-type chain with coupling)



Manufacturers of Identification Tag Necklaces, Napier Co., Meriden, Conn. (top) manufacturers of stainless steel chains with hooks & catches The Bead Chain Mfg. Co., Bridgeport, Conn. (bottom) manufacturers of bead type chains with coupling
Click image to enlarge

Embossing Machines: “Graphotype” hand-operated embossing machine, Army Stock N° 54-M-29055, “Graphotype” hand-operated embossing machine, Army Stock N° 54-M-29055-50, “Graphotype” motor-operated embossing machine, Army Stock N° 54-M-29065, and “Adressograph” pistol-type imprinting machine, Model 70, Medical Department Item #99387 . Main supplier, Addressograph-Multigraph Corp., Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A.

1940 Selective Service Act: Act passed by Congress September 14, 1940, authorizing registration for military service in the Armed Forces of the U.S., of all men in the United States between the ages of 21 and 35 inclusive . It was later extended to include men between 20 and 44; and for non-military service, men aged 18 and 19 and men between 45 and 65 inclusive .

War Department Pamphlet 21-13, Army Life, 10 August 1944 states … Always wear your Identification Tags . These are considered part of your uniform, and your Officers may ask you to show that you are wearing them at any time on or off the Post… AR 600-40, Section III, 31 March 1944 further indicates … Identification Tags will be worn by each member of the Army at all times and may be removed temporarily ONLY as the necessities of personal hygiene may require; one Tag to be suspended from the neck underneath the clothing by a 25-inch noncorrosive, nontoxic, and heat-resistant material looped to form a necklace, and the second Tag fastened to the necklace below the first Tag by a 2 ½-inch extension of material similar to the necklace (introduced December 29, 1942) . The Tags, embossed as provided in AR 600-35, Section VI, will be issued to each member of the Army as soon as practicable after entry into service … (War Department Circular N° 262, 19 December 1941, stipulated … one Tag to be suspended from the neck underneath the clothing by a cord or tape 40 inches in length passed through the small hole in the Tag, the second Tag to be fastened about 2 ½ inches above the first one on the same cord or tape, both securily held in place by knots) in use till December 28, 1942 .FM 10-63, Graves Registration, 15 January 1945 also states … one of the two Identification Tags, worn as prescribed in Army Regulations will be attached to the remains when interred . This includes any and all interments in the Theater of Operations – the first battlefield interment, as well as the interment into a temporary cemetery for subsequent, final disposition . The duplicate (i.e. second) Tag will be removed at time of interment and attached securily to the grave marker about 2 inches from the top … it is also interesting to note that … in battlefield burials, when Identification Tags are missing, identification should be made by members of the organization of the deceased . Postive identification obtained should be made of record and a copy of same placed in a canteen, bottle or other container, and buried with the body … if one Tag is missing, the remaining Tag will be buried with the body and the grave marker, marked with the name, grade and Army serial number, until a substitute Tag is made … in case there is no Tag at all (both are missing), all available identifying data should be recorded on two slips of paper, each placed in a separate bottle or in the most practical container available, and buried six inches below the surface of the ground, centered at the head of the grave (this information is later reproduced on a metal label by means of an embossing machine, and attached to the marker by personnel of the Graves Registration Service) …


DOG TAGS - notes on postwar US Army Identification Tags

In view of the numerous queries received about Dog Tags from our readers/visitors, it might be interesting to note following immediate postwar changes governing the introduction of new prefixes and other subsequent modifications :

17 July 1947 introduction of new prefix for Enlisted Men’s Dog Tags
RA : Regular Army

02 September 1949 the Army Air Forces, now called U.S. Air Force and being made a separate Arm (July 26, 1947) introduces special prefixes for Enlisted Men & Women (ASNs already attributed to servicemen by the Army were to be kept)

AA : Enlisted WAF (Woman in the Air Force)
AD : Aviation Cadet
AF : Enlisted Airman
AO : Air Force Officer

02 September 1949 introduction of additional prefixes for Enlisted Men & Women

A : Enlisted WAC Army of the United States
ER : Reservist in Active Service
NG : National Guard member in Active Service
US : Enlisted Soldier Army of the United States
WA : Regular Army WAC
WR : War Reservist in Active Service

02 September 1949 introduction of new Army Regulations AR 615-30 and replacement of “Army Serial Number” designation by “Army Service Number”

1950 introduction of the “Rh” factor on Dog Tags, with indication of either “POS” or “NEG” after Blood Type

early 1950 introduction of new prefixes for Enlisted Men & Women

RO : Regular Army Soldier with Reserve Officer’s Commission
WL : Regular Army WAC with Reserve Officer’s Commission

end 1950 introduction of more additional prefixes for Enlisted Men & Women

BR : Reservist enlisted in the Reserve (as per AR 140-11)
FR : Reservist enlisted in the Reserve with Special Status (as per Section 261 & 262, RFA.55)
PS : Filipino Scout
RM : Regular Army Soldier with Reserve Warrant Officer’s Commission
RP : Retired Soldier called up for Active Duty (with Special Status)
UR : Enlisted Soldier Army of the United States with either Reserve Officer’s Commission or Reserve Warrant Officer’s Commission
WM : Regular Army WAC with Reserve Warrant Officer’s Commission

1960 “notched” Dog Tags are no longer used, not necessary with the new Embossing Machines (but overall dimensions are kept)

end 1960 Tetanus inoculation is no longer indicated on the Tags !

1964 introduction of new prefix for Officers, “O” is now replaced by “OF”

October 1967 introduction of “Social Security Account Number” (SSAN) in lieu of “Army Service Number” (ASN)

30 June 1969 application of “Army Service Number” is terminated

Not only new prefixes were introduced after WWII, but due to the overall changes in the Military Administration of the continental United States, new boxes of Army Serial Numbers were allotted to the remaining 6 Armies and Departments 17 July 1947 :

Hawaiian Department =
Panama Canal Department =
Antilles Department =
First Army Area =
Second Army Area =

Third Army Area =
Fourth Army Area =
Fifth Army Area =
Sixth Army Area =
range from 10,100,000 > 10,199,999
range from 10,200,000 > 10,299,999
range from 10,400,000 > 10,499,999
range from 11,000,000 > 12,999,999
range from 13,000,000 > 13,999,999
range from 15,000,000 > 15,999,999
range from 14,000,000 > 14,999,999
range from 18,000,000 > 18,999,999
range from 16,000,000 > 17,999,999
range from 19,000,000 > 19,999,999

National Guard units continued to use prefix 20 …

On 25 June 1948 the designation Hawaiian Department changed into US Army Pacific; the Panama Canal Department into US Army Caribbean; while the Antilles Department was scrapped

On 02 August 1948 all Conscripts (or Draftees) called up for a 21-months period as per the June 24, 1948 “Selective Service Act” received Army Serial Numbers in the following sequences :

US Army Pacific (ex-Hawaiian Dept) =
US Army Caribbean (ex-Panama Canal & Antilles Depts) =
US Army Alaska =
First Army Area =
Second Army Area =
Third Army Area =
Fourth Army Area =
Fifth Army Area =
Sixth Army Area =
range from 50,000,000 > 50,099,999
range from 50,100,000 > 50,199,999

range from 50,200,000 > 50,299,999
range from 51,000,000 > 51,999,999
range from 52,000,000 > 52,999,999
range from 53,000,000 > 53,999,999
range from 54,000,000 > 54,999,999
range from 55,000,000 > 55,999,999
range from 56,000,000 > 56,999,999

Following Army Serial Numbers boxes were allotted to 18-year old Volunteers who joined the AUS and USAF for 21-months of Active Service :

US Army Pacific =
US Army Caribbean =
US Army Alaska =
First Army Area =
Second Army Area =
Third Army Area =
Fourth Army Area =
Fifth Army Area =
Sixth Army Area =
range from 57,000,000 > 57,009,999
range from 57,010,000 > 57,019,999
range from 57,020,000 > 57,029,999
range from 57,100,000 > 57,199,999
range from 57,200,000 > 57,299,999
range from 57,300,000 > 57,399,999
range from 57,400,000 > 57,499,999
range from 57,500,000 > 57,599,999
range from 57,600,000 > 57,699,999

Regular Army WACs were equally allotted new Army Serial Numbers, i.e. :

US Army Pacific =
US Army Caribbean =
First Army Area =
Second Army Area =
Third Army Area =
Fourth Army Area =
Fifth Army Area =
Sixth Army Area =
range from 8,000,000 > 8,009,999
range from 8,010,000 > 8,019,999
range from 8,100,000 > 8,199,999
range from 8,200,000 > 8,299,999
range from 8,300,000 > 8,399,999
range from 8,400,000 > 8,499,999
range from 8,500,000 > 8,599,999
range from 8,600,000 > 8,699,999


Note : new blocks would be introduced on 01 January 1957 for Commissioned Officers (starting from 5,000,000 > 5,949,999) and for Warrant Officers (starting from 3,000,000 > 3,459,999 )

Sources : The Officer’s Guide, 9th Edition, July 1942, The Officer’s Guide, 11th Edition, April 1945, Army Regulations AR 600-35, Section VI, 31 March 1944, AR 600-40, Section III, 31 March 1944, FM 10-63 Graves Registration, 15 January 1945, War Department Pamphlet 21-13 Army Life, 10 August 1944, TM 12-250 Administration, February 10, 1942, Army Service Forces Catalog MED 3, 1 March 1944, AMHRG N° 7, P. Meunier, Quartermaster Supply Catalog QM 3-4, 1945, US Army Quartermaster School, Ft. Lee, Va., WWII period Magazines & Recruiting Posters, ABMC data, personal correspondence with Veterans, Collectors and miscellaneous Organizations, (all documents are from the author’s collection)

“Sgt A.S. Vilinsky”

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