Dog Tags by Ginger Cucolo

In her book Dog Tags: The History, Personal Stories, Cultural Impact, and Future of Military Identification (Allen House, 324 pp., $14.95, paper) author Ginger Cucolo says she has “a personal and intimate connection with the military.”  That connection: She is the daughter of a Navy veteran, the daughter-in-law and sister of an Army veteran, the niece of a Marine, and an Army wife.

All of the above led Cucolo to research and write a history of the ubiquitous military dog tag, which was first used in the Civil War a hundred years ago. As the subtitle notes, the book goes over the history of the dog tag and also contains personal stories—many told in the first person from emails and letters to the author, including several from Vietnam veterans.

Here’s an excerpt from Vietnam veteran Gordon Rottman’s contribution: “During a noon break on an operation I [racked] out in a hammock without a shirt (it was really hot). The sun shifted and I was no longer in the shade. When I came [to] my chest had reddened and you could make out the tags and chain. One of my Cambodians shot a pic of me with my camera napping at the time. I still have the photo.”

The author’s website is

—Marc Leepson