Dog Tags Lost and Found In Southeast Asia: An Update

6/12/2006 • Vietnam

The April 2002 issue of Vietnam Magazine carried an article about the 1,444 dog tags that an American tourist had purchased from shops and street vendors in Hue City, Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV), in 1994. The tourist — a former Army nurse — hoped that the dog tags might lead to the recovery and identification of some of the then 2,400 (now less than 1,850) American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who had gone missing in Southeast Asia, and she therefore immediately notified the U.S. MIA Office in Hanoi and turned the dog tags over to members of the Joint Task Force-Full Accounting (JTF-FA; now superseded by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, JPAC) and its Central Identification Laboratory (CIL), for verification of their authenticity.

Little did the tourist know that her good Samaritan deed would serve as the catalyst for some of the most in-depth research into dog tags to date. As none of the dog tags that she provided proved to be those of Americans missing in action (MIA) in Southeast Asia, they were turned over to scientists at the CIL to determine whether the tags had actually been worn by Americans who served in Southeast Asia, or whether they were fakes created for sale to unsuspecting tourists. Several years of investigation and analysis followed to determine which of the 1,444 dog tags were real and which were not. The situation was further complicated by numerous stories of rosters of U.S. service members, U.S. dog tag embossing machines and U.S. dog tag blanks left behind when the last troops withdrew in 1975. One of the main reasons for trying to trace dog tags to their origin was the hope that they might lead investigators to American crash and burial sites that had yet to be located.

To get to the bottom of what we called the ‘mystery of the dog tags,’ we needed to address four basic questions. First, were the dog tags issued by the United States or were they faked by Vietnamese citizens for the purpose of making a few dollars? Second, were there any fake dog tags among the 1,444? Third, if these dog tags were genuine, how did they end up in Vietnamese hands? Finally, would Americans want their dog tags back after 30 years and, if so, how could we know and how would we locate them so many years after the war? For whatever reason, these relics of war had been left behind, and we wanted to know how and why. We undertook this project with no preconceived notions, not knowing what we would find or learn. We would instead let the evidence speak for itself.

One area of confusion concerning the authenticity of dog tags is the difference between dog tags and dog tag rubbings (or as the Vietnamese call them, ‘paper dog tags’). Some investigators have mistakenly lumped these all into the same category. The difference is that a dog tag is made of metal and, in order to fake it, has to be duplicated using another metal dog tag. To produce a fake dog tag, a fabricator needs not only an original dog tag or a copy of a U.S. duty roster to get the service member’s biographical information, but also a stamping machine and a genuine (not hand-made) dog tag blank of the correct weight, material and design. In comparison, a dog tag rubbing is made by transferring the exact information from a real or fake dog tag by holding it against a piece of paper (often the foil from inside a cigarette pack) or carbon paper, and rubbing it with a pencil or pen. In fact, some paper dog tags are handwritten.

Vietnamese ‘bone dealers’ (a cottage industry for some unscrupulous citizens in Vietnam) produce paper dog tags and turn them over to U.S. authorities along with a small chip of animal or human bone or tooth in the mistaken belief that they’ll receive money or preferential immigration status for their family to the United States. They produce and send in paper dog tags as proof of their sincerity and keep the original dog tags for making future rubbings. The CIL and other government agencies working in the POW/MIA arena receive many paper dog tags each month, and some of the names on them, we’ve been told, have been seen more than 60 times. Over the years we have seen numerous copies of the same paper dog tag through the CIL — ‘Bunk Queer’ and ‘John Mullins,’ for example — but we have not seen more than four metal dog tags from the same individual. The point is that paper dog tags are not the same as metal ones and should not be discussed as if they are; such a comparison is apples and oranges.

The first step in our research was to list as many of the 1,444 names as possible (some were damaged or too rusty to read) on the CIL Web site — now listed as — so that anyone browsing the Web could check to see if his or her name was listed. The reader could then contact the JPAC Web master by e-mail or telephone and answer a few questions that only the dog tag’s original owner or next of kin could know. For example, the veteran might be asked to give the last four digits of his or her Social Security number, or the complete military service number as listed on the dog tag. If the correct information was provided, we mailed the dog tag and a copy of the April 2002 Vietnam article to the veteran, along with a signed letter from the CIL. We return each dog tag to its original owner in the same condition that we received it — dirty, rusty, bent, scratched, or clean and shiny. We don’t want to wash away the dirt, or memories or evidence of what had happened three decades before.

Judging from the many Web sites (for example,,,,, etc.) and coverage in newspapers and national television shows, including the ‘Oprah Winfrey Show,’ across the United States in the past few years, reuniting lost dog tags with their owners has gained some attention. Unfortunately, and without any apparent basis in fact, some have labeled such reunions as misguided and the recovered dog tags as imitations manufactured by the Vietnamese. Such allegations have cast a shadow on the authenticity of all dog tags coming from the streets of Vietnam. Our research, by contrast, is showing that there appears to be less deviousness at play than some people might think. For example, we compared duplicate dog tags held at the JPAC with those of Cana Mission and Vietnam Dogtags, and found that the information and their features matched, indicating that they were stamped by the same stamping machines — rather than one dog tag having been stamped Stateside and the other one in Vietnam.

In November 2001 we posted more than 1,000 names on the CIL Web site. In January 2002 we got our first response, from a veteran named Dan Clipson who now resides in Oklahoma. Clipson served in Phu Bai from 1969 to 1970, and didn’t remember losing any dog tags. By asking a few questions, we verified that it was his dog tag and sent it to him the next day. A few weeks later we received a letter from him saying, ‘Please know that this is one former American soldier who thanks you for giving back to him a piece of his history….’ We were elated to be able to help Clipson reclaim a piece of his youth, and then waited for the next query; it arrived two months later. Since then we’ve received two or three dog tag queries each month.

Over the next year we verified and returned more than 20 dog tags to veterans living in Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia and Germany. Twelve had served in the Army, two in the Navy and seven in the Marines. Two other veterans had died after the war, and we sent their dog tags to surviving family members.

What was most interesting and unexpected, however, were the circumstances and stories of how these dog tags became separated from their owners. Tony Kurr (Army, 1970-71), a soldier out of Schaumburg, Ill., unknowingly lost both of his dog tags in-country and got replacements, which he still has. Karl Voiles (Navy, 1968-69) wore a peace symbol around his neck and doesn’t remember losing his dog tags. Chuck Racette (Army, 1970-71) mistakenly left one of his dog tags tied to his boots when he turned them in at the out-processing station in Vietnam.

Others, such as Edward Liekis Jr. (Marines, 1967-68) and Spencer Zielenski (Army, 1969), after being wounded in battle, were taken to aid stations where medics cut off and discarded their boots with the dog tags tied to them. Joseph Chernowas was injured during a mortar attack and had his boot and dog tag cut off and tossed out the back door at an aid station. He remembers seeing flak jackets, bloody boots and steel helmets lying in piles behind one of the aid station tents. Ronald Castonguay (Army, 1970-71) of Massachusetts lost his dog tags when medics cut off his boots from his badly swollen feet in order to treat his trench foot. And then there was Alfred Pergeau, who lost both dog tags when his Marine squad was attacked by an NVA division in Quang Tri in 1969.

Steven Sweetland (Army, 1969-70) lost his as he was moving along Highway 1 from Da Nang to Chu Lai. John Kreucher (Navy, 1967-69) probably lost his when he sent them out with his laundry, while James Petyak (1967-68) thinks he lost his in the Phu Bai area. Chuck Manlove (Marines, 1966-67) received two reissues of dog tags in Vietnam and remembers losing one pair, as he put it: ‘…on ambush as the NVA attacked. We were only a reinforced squad. The VC followed us afterwards. When we finally got picked up I was running down the beach and taking off everything as fast as I could to get to the Amtrac and ran for home. I lost them north of Hue, three kilometers from the Ben Hai River in Dong Ha.’

Interestingly, Dan Clipson recognized the dog tag from Hue City as the one he had been issued in boot camp. He could tell because it showed his religion as ‘Methodist,’ while his second set had ‘Agnostic’ and the third set ‘Undecided.’ Dan certainly had a good sense of humor. As for what got stamped on dog tags, ‘You could have anything put on them if you knew the company clerks,’ was his reply. That also explains the dog tag we have with ‘ZIPPO THE GREAT’ on it. Our research revealed that the service number on that tag belonged to a Marine who served in Vietnam and went home after the war. And in fact the owner of that tag — Sergeant Martis Barton of Arkansas — just recently contacted us. So much for another purported fake!

One thing we have learned, based on dog tags that American teams have personally recovered from crash sites and graves around the world, is that having unusual or misspelled names or incorrect information on a dog tag is commonplace and doesn’t mean it’s not genuine.

After conversations with 17 veterans, we had learned a lot about the mystery of the dog tags in Vietnam, including — perhaps most important at this point — that the vast majority of them seem to be genuine. They were issued to U.S. service members, worn in and out of battle, lost, misplaced, given away as souvenirs, reissued, snagged and left on barbed wire, left hanging on bedposts or at out-processing stations, removed when wounds were treated, turned in while still tied to filthy, mud-covered boots or blown off their owners’ bodies in firefights.

Although we haven’t seen it firsthand, we accept the possibility that some Vietnamese may be hand stamping or etching dog tags for sale to tourists. One thing we’re not seeing, however, is evidence that any Vietnamese are either making fake or replica dog tags in mass quantities or producing ones bearing information that is machine-stamped. Vietnamese citizens are, nevertheless, still finding genuine dog tags along jungle paths, in their rice paddies and yards, in streams and at crash sites. Many are sold to scrap dealers or given to friends, whereupon they make their way to street vendors in the larger cities of Hanoi, Da Nang, Hue and Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) and are eventually sold to tourists.

The simple truth is that dog tags are not the thriving business that some would have us believe they are. The best way to judge ‘what’s hot and what’s not’ on the streets and in the shops of Vietnam is to look at the display cabinets holding these items. Zippo-type lighters, Purple Hearts, military payment certificates, cameras, and military equipment such as survival knives and compasses are typically displayed on the top shelf; dog tags are relegated to the bottom shelf or some dusty box in the back.

The suggestion that the Vietnamese are feverishly stamping out dog tags in some back room in Da Nang just doesn’t hold up when all of the pieces of the puzzle are reassembled and examined together. For example, is there any proof that U.S. authorities left rosters listing detailed personal information on thousands of soldiers that included their last name, first name and middle initial, social security number and/or military service number, religion, blood type, gas mask size, date of their tetanus shot, and branch of service? If so, none of our Southeast Asia analysts at JPAC-CIL is aware of it. And while we’ve often heard accounts of the U.S. military leaving stamping machines behind when American troops pulled out in 1975, none of the authors has ever seen one in Southeast Asia, despite repeated requests to shop owners. In fact, when two of us tried to purchase ‘replacement dog tags’ for ourselves in Saigon, only hand stamping and etching were available. When a half-full box of vintage dog tag blanks from the 1960s and 1970s was found at a shop in Saigon, the owner could not recommend where it could be ‘professionally’ stamped. Two handmade dog tag blanks that were purchased were easily distinguishable from genuine blanks, as they were made of very shiny recycled metal, had irregular curled edges, bent very easily and had jagged eyelets/holes resembling cogwheels. Being machine made, the eyelets in genuine dog tags are precise and smooth, not ‘flowered.’ Eyelets resembling cogwheels are perhaps the best indicators of a handmade dog tag blank.

One of the things that researchers have to deal with is how to tell whether a particular dog tag is genuine or fake, and there are several ways. ‘Fake’ can either refer to the metallic composition of the dog tag or whether it was actually worn by a U.S. service member. Here is an example of how science proved the authenticity of a dog tag.

In 1966 two soldiers joined the Marines under the buddy system, with the guarantee that they would be stationed together throughout their career. They sat four chairs apart in boot camp and, as a result, received military service numbers that differed only in the last digit — one soldier’s service number ended in 602 and the other in 606. The following year, one of the buddies (606) was killed when the helicopter carrying him crashed in Vietnam. As of 2005, he is still unaccounted for. Despite all efforts, U.S. investigators have been unable to locate the crash site or recover the remains of the crew or passengers.

That would have been the end of the story if not for the fact that a dog tag showed up on the streets of Vietnam in 2002. A Connecticut couple visiting Vietnam, doing what they perceived as their patriotic duty, purchased some dog tags in Saigon and later learned that one (606) was from an unaccounted-for U.S. Marine killed in action. Through a bit of detective work, the couple located the Marine’s brother and returned the dog tag to him. The brother, after noticing a reddish substance on the dog tag that he believed might be blood, contacted the JTF-FA, which then contacted the CIL to check it out.

Once at the CIL, scientists measured and weighed the rectangular dog tag and, using a scanning electron microscope, determined that it was made of stainless steel, a substance commonly used to make dog tags before, during and after the Vietnam War. Its weight, size and features, including a smooth curled edge and the absence of an end-notch, were consistent with dog tags issued in the 1960s. Close examination of the dog tag also revealed evidence of bending, burning and exposure to moist soil for an extended period of time. Scientists at the CIL then took the dog tag to the Serology/DNA Unit of the Honolulu Police Department, where the reddish substance was tested and found not to be blood, but a mixture of corrosion and dirt. The combined evidence was consistent with a dog tag that was made, embossed and issued during the Vietnam War. The evidence also indicated that the dog tag might have been damaged in a helicopter crash.

The next step was to compare the dog tag (606) from Saigon with the one carried home after the war by the dead Marine’s buddy (602). Using a low-power microscope, CIL scientists noticed that the numbers 602 and 606 on the two dog tags slanted upward in exactly the same way. They also noted that ‘OLIC’ in ‘CATHOLIC’ was misaligned on both dog tags. There was no doubt that the same stamping machine had been used to emboss the dog tag purchased in Vietnam and the dog tag carried home after the war by the missing Marine’s buddy. Here was irrefutable proof that both dog tags were genuine, having been stamped by the same machine back in 1966. Anyone wanting to produce a fake dog tag to reflect all of the circumstances behind the real 606 dog tag would have had to go to some extraordinary lengths for $1, which is about what the dog tag sold for. In fact, to replicate the original 606 dog tag one would have to:

  • Have a genuine/vintage dog tag blank.
  • Have the precise and correct 606 personal information to include on a fake dog tag.
  • Know that 606 had died in a helicopter crash in Vietnam.
  • Replicate the exact misalignments and spacing on the 606 dog tag to match the dog tag of the buddy (602) who went home after the war.
  • ‘Antique’ the fake dog tag to reflect long-term contact with moist soil and precisely mimic damage and burning associated with a downed helicopter.


Of course skeptics may say, ‘Well, that’s just one example, what about all the other dog tags?’ There’s no realistic way to answer that — in fact, it’s impossible to answer with certainty. What we have found, however, is that an intensive program to get to the bottom of these and other dog tag questions has revealed no evidence that any one of the 1,444 dog tags from Hue City is a fake. We’ve also found no evidence to support such statements as ‘You know, the Vietnamese are making dog tags out of beer cans over there ‘ (although we have found handmade dog tag blanks made of recycled metal in Saigon) and ‘Oh, they’re all fakes.’ Such statements only cloud the issue and cast doubt on the authenticity of many genuine U.S. dog tags. There’s no reason for the Vietnamese to produce fake dog tags or — perhaps more accurately — replica dog tags, using vintage blanks with machine-stamped personal information of someone who actually served in-country, when they have so many genuine ones at hand. Considering that some 2 1/2 million Americans served in Southeast Asia, some 5 million genuine dog tags have passed through there.

One unexpected and surprising finding, however, was that 15 of the 1,444 dog tags may belong to Americans killed in action. A check of the mortuary files maintained at JPAC revealed that eight of those 15 individuals were received at the Da Nang and Tan Son Nhut mortuaries missing one or both of their dog tags. For comparison, a random records search of 325 American service members who died in Vietnam and Laos between 1969 and 1971 revealed that 56 percent of them (182 people) were received at the mortuaries without any dog tags, 19 percent (61) had only one dog tag, 23 percent (75) had two, and three individuals had three dog tags. Perhaps a buddy, one of the graves records personnel at the collection point, or even the enemy, removed the dog tags after the soldiers were dead but before they were received at one of the two mortuaries in-country. Regardless, the dog tags for all 15 of the above-mentioned service members ended up on the streets of Hue City more than 30 years after being lost.


What We’ve Learned So Far…
  • Most of the 1,444 dog tags from Hue City appear to have been worn by Americans who served in Vietnam.
  • As of April 2005, JPAC-CIL has returned 49 of the lost dog tags to their owners.
  • Some of the 1,444 are from U.S. service members killed in action.
  • Not one of the 1,444 dog tags seems to be a fake.
  • About a third of the 1,444 dog tags are duplicates (two dog tags per service member).
  • The vast majority of genuine dog tags from the Vietnam War will not stick to a magnet. Although many combinations of metal have been used in the manufacture of genuine dog tags, most so-called ‘notched’ dog tags from World War II (first issued in 1940) will stick to a magnet if not too badly corroded (rusty).
  • The bodies of many service members were received at mortuaries in Vietnam without their dog tags.
  • It is likely that most of the dog tags that are offered for sale on the streets of Vietnam are genuine.
  • Vietnam-era embossing/stamping machines and vintage blanks are not as common in Vietnam as one might suspect.
  • Most fake dog tag blanks will have an irregular ‘gearlike’ margin encircling one side of the eyelet and/or are irregular in size and shape.
  • Unlike most genuine dog tags that are made of brushed stainless steel, many fake dog tag blanks have a polished, shiny appearance and are made of recycled metal that will stick to a magnet.
  • Several of the 1,444 dog tags are notched, indicating that they were manufactured prior to or during WWII. The service members owning these dog tags served during WWII, or were issued WWII–era stock until supplies ran out or the newer non-notched blanks were issued.
  • Many dog tags were lost as a result of battle injuries or in the heat of battle, at aid stations or during out-processing and clothing reissue while a soldier was in-country.
  • We have analyzed two other dog tags from Vietnam belonging to unaccounted-for service members and found them to be genuine; one service member was identified in 2004 and his dog tag returned to his family. The other dog tag, based on our research, prompted a reinvestigation of the incident.
  • A fourth dog tag is that of a deserter (in Vietnam) who has yet to be found.


Trying to unravel the mystery of the dog tags and determining whether a dog tag is genuine or fake represent a necessary, albeit complicated and difficult, step in understanding how and why service members became separated from their dog tags. While many tags were dropped, forgotten, misplaced, given away as souvenirs or turned in while attached to boots, many others were ‘lost’ in the heat of battle.

The purpose of the project is fourfold. The original and primary goal is to reunite lost dog tags with their owners. The second is to develop criteria for distinguishing genuine dog tags from fakes. The third is to understand the circumstances of when, where, why and how dog tags became separated from their owners by talking to the service members who lost them. The fourth is to trace the path of dog tags from the time they left their American owners until they ended up on the streets of Vietnam. Regardless of the circumstances of loss, each dog tag has a history — whether it is genuine or fake — and each carries information that we hope may lead to identification of a missing service member.

The ultimate goal of this research, however, is to understand how dog tags can be used to help locate crash sites and unmarked graves in a land of jungles, mountains, rivers and rice fields. These rectangular pieces of metal, worn close to the hearts of service members in battle, carry not only information intended for identification after death, but also, as we’re learning, unintentional information about how they were lost, where they were found and the hands that found them.Before we undertook this research, who would ever have thought that a few subtle features of a dog tag, such as being bent, burnt or covered with soil, could carry such a wealth of information about the circumstances surrounding the loss or death of a service member? What we do know is that in some cases dog tags, like silent witnesses, may be the only available source for locating missing service members and, therefore, deserve attention. Although we don’t claim to have all of the answers when it comes to dog tags, we’re certainly trying and, as a result, are getting a little closer to the truth. So, what may have begun as souvenir collecting for some and an act of good faith and Samaritanism for others may someday help investigators locate, recover and identify some of our MIAs…even if we only find one.


Robert W. Mann, Ph.D., is a deputy scientific director, Robert C. Maves is senior analyst and Thomas D. Holland, Ph.D., is scientific director of the JPAC-CIL. The authors wish to thank the men and women of the JPAC in Stony Beach, and the CIL for their dedication and continued efforts in both the laboratory and field. The authors also thank Richard Hites and Johnie E. Webb Jr. for their dedication and insightful thinking. Mr. and Mrs. Robert McMahon and Stacey Hansen deserve special thanks for their commitment and involvement in reuniting veterans with their lost dog tags. Thanks also to Professor Allen L. Johnson, Department of Chemistry at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, for interpreting the composition of some dog tags, and Dr. Niels J. Zussblatt of the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis for helping to verify information on some of the dog tags. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect that of the JPAC, CIL, CILHI, JTF-FA, Stony Beach or other U.S. government personnel or organizations. For additional reading, see MIA: Accounting for the Missing in Southeast Asia, by Paul D. Mather.

This article was originally published in the August 2005 issue of Vietnam Magazine.

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47 Responses to Dog Tags Lost and Found In Southeast Asia: An Update

  1. Melissa Harlow says:

    Can you give me information on the most trusted resource for recovering dog tags. My father Larry Francis Lucas, December 20 1966, Army, MIA now recovered and buried in Arlington. His tags were last located in a village close to the place where his plane crashed.

    Any resource would be helpful. We are very interested in finding out more about revovering his tags.

    Thank you for this story.

    San Diego California

  2. mike decker says:

    In Papua New Guinea last week I encountered a local who possessed 2 sets of US dog tags – a Melbourne Berg of Crystal Falls, MI and a ….Lynch of 5th Air Force. How do I go about pursuing the possibility that these may be MIA’s? The local still has them in PNG.

    Mike Decker, Dallas, Tx

    • Francesca Cumero says:

      Hi Mike,

      If you respond to this message, I can probably help you. Can you get the tags so they can be returned?

      All the best,

      Francesca Cumero
      Angelo’s WWII Angels Dog Tag Return Project

  3. Susan says:

    I have lived in SE Asia for 10 years, some local children in a
    remote location (without any tourism ) were wearing old dog
    tags, (there are many war time plane wrecks nearby , an
    abandoned wartime airfield also) We bought the tags from them,
    explained why they were so precious and brought them home
    with us, we are wanting to re-unite the tags with the soldiers, can
    you help us with this??

    • Francesca Cumero says:

      Dear Susan,

      I can most definitely help you return the tags if you still need help. No charge for it. Please see my web site: All the best,

      Francesca Cumero
      Angelo’s WWII Angels Dog Tag Return Project

  4. Neil Hazeldine says:

    I have recently found a US army dog tag at a battlefield named Dakto in Vietnam. It is, I believe, 40 years old. I wish to try and track down the owner. I have checked to see if he is MIA on the internet and thankfully he is not. I hope this guy is alive and well and maybe would appreciate the return of his dog tag after all this time. I do not want to submit my precious find to any Dogtag lost and found website. Why should I give them the glory of returning it!!
    Maybe you can help someway. I have began some research work by contacting people with the same surname on Facebook and Myspace

    Kind regards


    • Francesca Cumero says:


      I can probably help you return the tag. Vietnam era and newer tags tend to be a bit more tricky if the name is a more common one, but I would be willing to at least give it a shot if you contact me at [email protected]. There is no charge for this. I do it to honor the veterans.

      Francesca Cumero
      Angelo’s WWII Angel’s Dog Tag Return Project

  5. Joseph Naporac says:

    How to try to return a Dog Tag: 1st if there is a nine digit number it will be the Social Security Number. Try using an Internet Search Engine such as and use the search by SS Number feature; if successful you will get a City and State. Next try a phone directory, such as Also check using YAHOO or GOOGLE under SSDI (Social Security Death Index) – it may be that the former soldier is deceased. Lastly you can submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the National Personnel Records Center in St Louis – The FOIA information may help with tracking the place of entry and discharge of the Dog Tag owner. Be sure to clearly state “This is a FOIA request” and that you want “ALL FOIA RELEASEABLE INFORMATION.”

  6. tim turner says:

    how can i go about getting my dads replacement tags he passed 14may he was in vietnam for 6 years got out in 1966


  7. ronald Pewinski says:

    In January, 2002 I had a dog tag returned to me from a gentleman who purchase several from a Ho Chi Mong city market. His name is Bob McMann from New Hampshire. Are you aware of him.? He did not ask for anything. Just returned my dog tag with a nice carf wishing me home. I appreciated it, even though I did not remember losing a tag.

  8. curtis gilliland says:

    As, a fairly frequent visitor to Vietnam since 92, I can attest to the fact dog tags in the early years were found in shops all over Saigon. Less frequently now, since it has become known that it was and is a scam. I even believe if I were to ask, I could find Bill Clinton, George Bush or even Marilyn Monroe’s dog tags if I had only asked.
    One must realize that it isn’t that difficult to find service numbers and even social security numbers if one searched some websites of American units a few years ago. While in Vietnam during the 60s, many of us got our replicate dog tags made by a Vietnamese shop owner, while standing in a Vietnamese vendor’s shop. The one’s I have now are a copy of the real ones, I got on entering the service.
    One doesn’t give the Vietnamese enough credit for being smart and industrious. A thief of one’s identity doesn’t have to be born in the United States. Conterfietings, isn’t a national crime but is worldwide. Anyone want to purchase Obama or Bin Laden’s dog tags? I’m heading to Vietnam again soon. Or what about Michael Jackson’s. Now, that would be valuable.

    • Francesca Cumero says:

      Dear Curtis,

      While many of the tags may be fake, many of them are not. I commend the people who are attempting to get these tags home. They do it as a way to honor the veterans and show that they care. Even if the tag itself is not “authentic” the name on the tag could still be from someone who served in Vietnam. I should think that if someone returned even a fake tag to an actual veteran, that it would mean a lot to the veteran that someone went to the trouble.

      • curtis says:

        If you believe in fairy tales then believe the stories of lost dog tags being found. I’m made somewhere around 25 trips to the country Hanoi and way south of Saigon on foot, bicyle, motorbike, bus, train and ship. In several cases climbing mountains. Verturally every major town in the country had dog tags on the streets for sell. It was and is a tourist attraction that the Vietnamese merchants use of gullable tourists. The information on many of the dog tags can easily be obtained by looking at old orders that we soldiers got back then. Don’t think so, then I urge you to look at some for yourself. They even include social security numbers in some cases. How many would you like to buy and of whom since I will be returning soon? Would like your whole family’s dog tags? I can get them.

  9. Thomas says:

    I was given a US dog tag from Vietnam a couple of years ago, the service number is 9 digits and the name is not on the wall.
    Real or fake, It was handed to me for free from a vietnamease in a scrapyard miles from any tourists.

  10. Thomas says:

    correction, 8 digits.

  11. curtis says:

    Anyone want Hillary and Bill’s and George and Laura’s dog tags? I feel quite certain I seen them on my last trip to Vietnam a month ago. Now, I will only give them to you if you are planning on visiting with both couples. Dog tags have been sold on the streets and shops of Saigon at least to back in the 90s when I first started returning. Even the vendors realize they have been found out and are now stopping the action. Does no one realize how easily they can be made in the back of the vendors shop or at home and the information so easily obtained over the web? Vanity oh vanity how long will people fall for this?

  12. curt says:

    Okay, I’m back in the USA and I’ve found and bought Obama’s, Bin Laden, Rush Limbaugh, Larry the Tool Man, Arnold Swatenegger, Oreilly, Wolf Blitzer, Dick Cheney’s and several others dog tags, that I found in a shop in an alley just off Dong Koi street. Each has their serial number and other pertinent information including blood type.
    The dog tag issue is nothing but a ripoff people. I’ve seen jars and buckets full of them on trips to Vietnam and some tourist falls for the trap every day.

  13. curt says:

    Does no one realize how easy it is to get personal information off of old orders that were made back then?

  14. Harold Watson says:

    In April 2007, I received a call from Bob McMann from New Hampshire saying that a dog tag with my name on it was found in Vietnam. I apparently lost this tag near LZ West (near Hiep Duc)north in 1969 during a firefight. This tag was found in Saigon 400 miles south from where I lost it. I thought this call from Mr. Mcmann was a hoax and when he read off the information from the tag, I knew it was real. He sent the tag to me in the original condition as found (little rusty and still old black tape marks on it). I have this tag put away in safe keeping in same condition as received. I thank Bob McMann and Cannamission for its outstanding service to the Vietnam Veteran! This tag is the most precious thing I have! Thanks everyone!

  15. zack allen says:

    well i found a dog tag out on the ground were i live and i dont know what to do with it and the name on it is Van thomas natten it says he is male born march 5, year 71, us cit. prot. i dont know what prot means but if any one what i should do or who that is let me know i would be glad to give it back to him!!!! thankzz

  16. Tom Cecchi says:

    I was on Kiritimati Island for a clean up project in 2005/2006. My work crew located ten WWII U.S. Military Dog Tags in a burn pile near one of the lagoons. I have found the original owners or family members for five of these ten tags but have come upon a dead end for the remaining five. Can anyone out there help me locate the relatives of the remaining five?
    Reach me at [email protected]

  17. Harold Watson says:

    Back in 2007, I received a telephone call from Bob McMann from New Hampshire saying they found one of my dog tags in Saigon (I refuse to call it “Ho Chee Mendos City” or whatever the ripoff new govt calls that place now.) Mr McMann verified everything with me about the authenication of the tag. I was issued this tag (along with the other lost tag) at Fort Knox, Ky in basic training in 1967. When I received the tag, the first thing I remembered was that my social security was stamped on it with the two middle numbers running together. That is exactly the way the tag was when I got it from Bob so I know it was original. The strange thing about losing this tag was that I lost it in a firefight near Hiep Duc (450 miles north of Saigon) in August 1969. How it got down south is as strange as me remembering our unit searching for a LOCH (light observation helicopter) in 1969 that went down and the dinks carried it off 2 clicks (about 600 yards) where it was hard to locate…..Thank you very much Bob McMann and your team for bringing my tag back to me….You are the reasons for me to fight for our country again.

  18. Stephanie Montefusco says:

    Hi, I know this is a long shot but I found a zippo lighter on Long Island New York. It says BILL PARKS VIETNAM 1969. On the back is a fancy box with a rifle and a medalian that is red and looks a little like a dragon with maybe a sword. I would love to return this lighter Like I said, I know it’s a long shot. I googled the name but no luck. Thank you so much for all you have all done for our country.

  19. GARY FOSTER says:

    I have had three of my dog tags returned to me from Viet Nam where i served as a combatant in northern I Corps. One from Stacey Hansen at, one from [email protected] [email protected] and one from
    They were all mine, most likely left in my boots when I left Viet Nam Aug68 t0 April 70. One left in a spare pair of boots after my tank was hit with recoiless rifle in a battle at Qhang Knai in March of 1969. One had my serial number two other had my social security number. You could see the bend in each tags caused by lacing them in my boots. one evan had the red clay where the tags were crimped on the edges.

  20. dan a becker says:

    my brother douglas scott becker service number serial # 52 756 534 selective service data 50 55 49 488 date inducted 4/11/67 co c (ranger) character of service (honorable) social security number 053-42-8912 pvt (p) e-1 decorations,medals,badges,commendations, citations.and campaign ribbons awarded or authorized national defense service medal/vietnam service medal/combat infaetryman badge/army commendation medal/bronze star medal. my name is dan arthur becker s s # 084-54-8066 i live in pittston pa. 1 quiet cove pittston pa 18640 can i have my brothers medals sented to me im on ssd but am willing to paid for then and his dog tags please i am lost without his memories thank you sincerely dan a becker

    • Francesca Cumero says:


      You can contact your local congressional office and they can assist you in getting copies of your brother’s medals, as well as his service records. I am sorry you lost your brother. If I can help you further, please contact me @ [email protected]. I’d be happy to help you in any way I can. All the best to you,

      Francesca Cumero
      Angelo’s WWII Angels Dog Tag Return Project

  21. joe says:

    en año 2003 estuve en Saigon como turista junto a mi esposa. Yo conservo mis placas originales porque estuve en Quangg Ngai desde enero del 71 a diciembre de ese año, en la 11 th. Ligth Inf.Bri.En Saigon vendían dog tag por algo más de 5 dolares con la leyenda que quiesieran escribir. Mi mujer se hizo hacer una con su name y su social segurity number.ES EXACTAMENTE igual a la que me dió el Eje´rcito hace 40 años.La unica diferencia es que los bordes son apenas menos redondeados. No se dejen engañar. Es muycho maas facil encontrar alguna dog tag original en el interior de Vietnam, pero no en Ho Chi Ming.Saludos a todos los que combatieron a mi lado en la Delta Co. H.O Revell -PFC-E3-Army Regular-

  22. meaung says:

    I’m have two dogtags but i’m can’t contact Relative with write (geogre r booth 33273942 t42 mrs bertha booth rt 246 rixbere pa )(,sl,sd&rpp=10&pg=1&rid=3754274)check in this website ?????

  23. curtis says:

    As, a rather frequent visitor, some where around 25 trips, to Vietnam since 1992, I have walked past buckets of “lost” American dog tags on the streets in several of the cities throughout Vietnam. Shops in Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City and all around the country several years ago were ripe for having them out front of their place of business and loved tourists paying exorbant prices for them. They would sell out then call their wholesaler, who would then run off a new bach and a few days later, more ” dirty, rusty old” lost tags were on display for the next tourists who walked by. It is nothing but a sham people. I’m heading back in a few months. Would anyone like their grandparents and all their children’s dog tags? Or how about this, Hillary Clinton, George Bush (elder or younger), Sarah Palin, Obamma or Governor of California Arnold’s dog tags. I can get them but you’ll have to pay for real lost dog tags!

    • gary foster says:


  24. curtis says:

    Ok, now I will be heading back to Vietnam sometime soon, after first returning in the ealy 90s. Does anyone want some “lost” dog tags? I think I can also find Osma Bin Laden’s tags and I think I seen Barrak Obama’s lost dog tags. Come on people do you really think there aren’t fake dog tags made today in Vietnam. Most probably they will be in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. I’ve seen jars and buckets full of them while walking the streets of Saigon for the past 20 years and other areas of the country. They seemingly refill themselves as tourists leave the areas.

  25. Hien Ngo says:

    I’m from Vietnam and I would like to return a dog tag with the following information on it:

    RA 51513688

    I got it last year from a relative of mine when visiting my home village in Gio Linh District, Quang Tri Province.



  26. curt says:

    Ok, I’m in vietnam again. Would anyone like Jane Fonda, George Bush, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama, or Rush Limbaugh’s real authentic dog tags? There are jars of them all up and down Le Loi in Saigon, that seemingly fill the next day, once the tourists purchase them. Come on people they are fake, fake, fake, fake, fake. They’ve been doing this for years to tourists. Wise up???

  27. Norman Schwagler says:


    I was given a dog tag while visiting friends in Vietnam and would like to return it:

    A NEG

  28. Francesca Cumero says:


    I think I might have found him. Write me at [email protected]. Also, to the web master, you might want to remove the number under Alfred’s name. He’s most likely still living and that’s his SS#. They used the Social Security numbers for serial numbers on the tags.

  29. James R Walker says:

    Cana Mission contacte me about my dog tags at them time I did not want them. I would like to have themnow. Please have them contactme. Thanks James Walker

  30. David L Baugh says:

    My dog tags were lost in 1968, probably somewhere around Camp Evans in I Corp when I was evaced out. I would really love to get them back if they are ever found. Thanks, David Baugh

  31. Jimmy Bell says:

    Myself and my family are currently in Vietnam on holidays from Australia. Being an ex Australian soldier of 20 years I have a keen interest in military history. Yesterday (11 June 2012) we stopped off at the Cham Musuem in Danang, during the tour of the museum I noticed a small pile of dog tags sitting beside some old Zippo lighters in the bottom of a souvenir case. A closer look revealed that most were unreadable or belonged to SVNA personnel of the Vietnam conflict. I did however get two tags which are both in a bad condition but are good enough to be able to determine the names and other details associated with their owners. How can I track down these personnel?

    We are currently at Hoian and are heading onto Na Trang later this week and onto the old Australian Task Force stomping grounds off Vung Tau and Nui Dat next week. The email address I have provided is one that my wife has set up while we are travelling. If you cannot respond to me before 22 June 2012, you can get me on my email address in Australia which is:

    [email protected]

    I look forward to any reply. I have emailed [email protected] with the same information above.


    Jimmy Bell

  32. Michael D. Ostinato says:

    I was contacted about my dog tags being found in the DaNang area. It showed all that was on my tags. Someone named Adien had them. I have been trying to contact him for 2 years now. I cannot locate the site or the name of the guy who told me of Adien but would not give me his last name for to site restrictions. Please help me with any info u can give. My grandson will get my tags if I can find them. Thanks!!!!

    • Curtis says:

      These tags are all fake. I’ve made over 30 trips to Vietnam on the last 20 or so years and I’ve seen thousands of them even in Hanoi and all over the country, these easily find infor on the net, yep you can access the net in Vietnam easily, make a tag and walla I’ve found your tag or lighter. I’ve posted pictures of these lost tags and blank ones to be made on demand all over the net. They are fake, fake, fake. Don’t fall for this trick.

  33. Curtis Gilliland says:

    All those \loss dog tags\ are as fake as a three dollar bills. I’ve seen literally thousands in stores and street venders for at least 22 years and approximately 30 trips all over Vietnam. If you buy into the tales of found loss tags, you are as dumb as a buck of rocks. You want Bill Clinton, Osama’s, George Washington, your mother in law or grand kids dog dog tags? I can get’em. You are a sucker if you do. Do not believe anyone!

  34. James Wright says:

    This has been circling on facebook for sometime . i hope this person gets their dog tag returned .if you can help it would be very nice . thanks !

  35. Curtis Gilliland says:

    All dog tags and cigarette lighters ARE FAKE !!

    In the last twenty years I have traveled extensively all over Vietnam from Hanoi, thru the mountains in center of the country to approximately 200 miles south of Saigon. I have seen literally thousands if not millions for sell in shops all over the country. In jars, in display cases and buckets. Every one of them is FAKE ! How do I know? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to find out personal information if you know how to use the Internet or use a past Vietnam vets old orders which has most of the times all the info one needs for a dog tag, go to The Wall website or have a unscrupulous Vietnam vet wanting to make some easy money and get a headline. Newspapers and the rest of the media eats up “lost tags found” as do families.
    Just this past month I photographed some more tags and blank tags for use in making a tag of that past POW or family member. I would gladly post the but right don’t know how to do so but anyone who has spent long periods of time there in the past years will confirm. They are made in shops and homes there today and just are waiting for some vail tourist to walk by. You want a picture of many of them, just contact me at ([email protected] )

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