Veterans History Museum dog tag machine

Veterans History Museum Board Vice President Ken Corn makes a dog tag.

The Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas in Brevard, North Carolina, welcomes visitors back with exciting exhibits, including a working dog tag machine from WWII; a WWI-era organ for holding religious services in the field; and a Merchant Marine exhibit.

The museum is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. Admission is free.

The mission of the Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas is to honor the nation’s veterans, to educate the public about the country’s military history and contribution of service men and women, and to preserve important and unique historic artifacts. The Museum reflects a love of country and gratitude to those who serve it by remembering and celebrating their service.

Did you know?

Dog tags were created and continue to be used by the Department of Defense from 1906 to today.

The Identification Tag was first introduced on Dec. 20, 1906, by General Order No. 204.

It is further described as being part of the uniform and that the purpose for wearing dog tags was to enable positive identification of a casualty or remains; to make a difference both for the families and the authorities, should the person end up as being known but to God.

Many people believe the notch on the dog tag was a tooth notch to attach to a tooth of a dead soldier. The notch was there to align it and hold it in place on a handheld transcription machine (Model 70 Addressograph Patented), which was used by field medics to transfer the soldier’s information onto paper medical forms or burial records. This is also the reason why dog tags in this era were debossed, so that they became a printing press to record information using an ink ribbon and carbon paper. Notched dog tags were issued until December 1964.

Dog Tags from WWII up until the Korean War included the year that a tetanus toxic vaccination shot was administered. The indicator for the shot was T## (i.e. T43.)

Recognizing that the world was heading to war in 1939, the U.S. Army wanted a better system to identify its soldiers. Up until then, the dog tags used during and since WWI were variations on a round tag made of aluminum and then later Monel, a metal alloy.

The information stamped (mostly by hand) was usually limited to the soldier’s name and serial number. The new dog tags, in 1939, were machine-embossed on Monel based on a commercial store credit plate that could transfer information from the tags to paper records using carbon pages. The size and shape of the new dog tags could hold much more information than the previous styles. Up to three to five lines were used to record the emergency contact information, usually the name, address, city and state of the soldier’s next of kin, along with their blood type, health condition and religion, if the soldier wanted such.

In July 1943, the emergency contact information was removed from issued tags. Soldiers heading overseas to fight in Europe were issued new tags minus their next-of-kin information. This change was done to prevent the enemy from intimidating captured soldiers by threatening their family. As of December 2015, the U.S. Government uses a soldier’s Department of Defense number instead of their Social Security number on dog tags.

When a service member was buried, ashore or at sea, one tag was to be left with the body and the other sent to defense personnel “as soon as practicable under the circumstances.”

“It took a whole lot of oil,” said Tom Bugala of the effort to restore the Graphotype MF&Co 6827 World War II-style dog tag machine. Bugala, co-creator of the exhibit and a museum board member discovered and restored the machine with David Wellborn of Ruffin, North Carolina.

The Veterans History Museum is a 100% volunteer, non-profit museum; volunteers are always welcome. For more information, call 828-884-2121 or visit

The museum is located at 21 E. Main St. in Brevard, next to the Transylvania Courthouse.

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