Sunday, November 06, 2005

Vietnam War Dogtags -- Do You Know These People?

Kudos to Martha and Verlyn Roskam, who found 37 American dog tags being sold on the streets of Saigon as souvenirs a couple of years back, scooped them up and began the process of returning them to their owners --or to the surivors.

They managed to find some of the people, but they need our help with others. Go to the Matter of Honor website to see the names. Who knows, you might be able to connect the dogtags with their rightful owners after all these years.

[Thanks to Main & Central for the heads-up on this story.]


Anonymous said...

The chances those dog tags are authentic are the same as democracy arriving in Iraq anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

Why would they be phony? Whose advantage would it be to make phony tags? Especially with real soldier's identities on them?
If they are phony, then why were there only 37 of them? You'd think that would be a cottage industry and there would be literally thousands.
Start thinking with your head, dude. There's absolutely no reason to think that they are phonies.

Anonymous said...

from the above dated 2002
Fake or Real - Real or Fake - On October 30th, the Chicago Tribune published a story by Colleen Mastony and Ted Gregory, titled "Vietnam dog tags stir up emotions." The following is excerpted from that article: "Earl Quarterman died in the jungles of Vietnam more than 30 years ago, so this spring when a tourist brought his dog tags back to his mother, it felt like a visit from the past. "I could hardly believe it. It was the best moment of my life. ... It was like bringing my son back home to me," said Sarah Quarterman, 71, who held a prayer service at her South Side home, where family members cried and sang hymns around the old tag."

"It felt like a miracle, except for one hitch: Earl Quarterman's dog tags weren't missing. The government had mailed them to his family shortly after his death in 1967."

"The American government says more GI dog tags are coming back from Vietnam, and most of them are fake, produced for unsuspecting tourists by entrepreneurs who recognize their emotional and monetary value. "We're seeing more of these things coming back with tourists," said Larry Greer, a Defense Department spokesman. "The sad thing is that they are virtually all phony."

"... defense officials say when American troops pulled out of Vietnam, many of the tag-making machines were left behind. Officials say they've gotten dozens of reports of found dog tags all bearing the same name. Earl Smith has been reported more than 40 times, Walter Robinson more than 75 times. Defense officials believe that black-market producers are copying real dog tags or downloading information about veterans from the Internet."

"... Some forgers copy information from abandoned military equipment, Greer said. One reported name, "Johns Manville," is an insulation company that helped build American F-4 Phantom jets.

"It's almost humorous," Greer said. "What's sad is when one of the tags finds its way to a family whose son or husband has been killed. The family could have closed this sad chapter 30 years ago. Then here comes a well-meaning person with another little tidbit from the past. I can only imagine the pain that it causes."

Anonymous said...

The National Alliance? Yah, thats a reliable source. Mize well cite the fucken Free Republic. Those are people with a vested interest in keeping alive the hopes of the very people you claim to sympathize with, despite the fact that there is no -- repeat NO -- reliable evidence that any POWs are still alive.
Haven't read the Chicago Tribune story, but the papers a historically notorious right-wing rag, so there ya go.
Try instead this website:
It has the unbiased and unvarnished truth about the dog tag controversy, and the bottom line is that the vast majority of them appear to be real and authentic.
Don't listen to the lunatic ravings of a vocal minority. Do the research yourself, and like I said above, think for yourself!

Lurch said...

Thanks fir carrying this story a little bit further into the daylight.

Anonymous said...

you bet your ass there is a "cottage industry" of manufactured dog tags in vietnam. just like there is a cottage industry of fake engraved zippo lighters that are knocked of in china. they are sold to the tourists as lighters of the dead gi's. i met a shop owner from london in saigon that used to buy them by the hundreds to sell in his shop and he knew they were fake but he didn't care because he was out to make a buck just like the vietnamese that sold them to him.
don't believe me? go look for yourself. do you have any idea how much paperwork was abandonded and left behind with the fall of saigon that had thoudsands of amderican military names? i am sure the ladies were doing what they thought was honorable, and yes a good gesture. but they are probably not real. i have been back to vietnam several times since serving there from 1967 to 1970 and there are thousands of dog tags there. if they are so real explain to me why gi's returning to the usa from a tour of duty had to show their dogtags to board the aircraft to verify thier id to the manifest for transport? how did they get aboard the aircraft without their dogtags?

Anonymous said...

Are you nuts? You didn't have to show anything except that post clearance paper and your orders to get on that plane.
It was easy to get separated from your dog tags -- drape 'em over a bedpost when you're doing the boom-boom and the next thing you know, you're back at Danang without your tags. Quick trip to the personnel hooch and you got some new ones. Meantime your old ones are floating around somewhere, turning up years later on the streets of Saigon.
I really question the whole concept of this cottage industry in dog tags. If the Vietnamese had access to those detailed kinds of personnel records, to be able to reconstruct someone's freaking dog tags, then they'd also have enough details to reconstruct their entire identity. We live in the age of identity theft, and yet surprisingly I do not know of one single case of identity theft arising out of SE Asia as the result of military personnel records left behind.
For one thing, those records just wouldn't have been left behind. We didn't turn tail and run, leaving EVERYTHING in our wake. It was, if you will recall, right up to the last few days, an orderly withdrawal, and we took our shit out with us.
So give me a break with this crap about the "cottage industry" in dog tags. I don't believe that you really saw them. Talk is cheap, so prove it.

onlyvato said...

Real dog tags and reall zippo lighers in Vietnam. No way all are fake. I live in Ho Chi Minh City (Siagon} and I look everyday for real ones and all vendors tell you "Real" but afterI carefully inspect and I tell them "Fake" then most tell the truth and want me out of their store or stand and smile at me and then the next seekers comes and I get to hear the "real" story all over again and just shake my head! most are real bad fakes. But boy they will tell you real. Medals are repos also, but if you get lucky some are real like hens teeth. I served with E trp. 2/11 ACR 1971 and still have my basic tranning dog tags, so I can compare. When I left we were processed and boarded (FTA} flying tiger airlines, our freedom bird! I still live in HCMC still in Go Vap district. Ben Martinez

Papasan said...

My son lives in Ho Chi Mihn...the dog tags and medals you buy in shops and by street vendors are fake. Anything to make a buck. The sad thing is ignorant tourists that buy them.

Papasan said...

I was there in 73'. My son currently lives there. The tags and medals are fake. This has been investigated thoroughly by U.S. State Dept. and other individual agency's including vets visiting. My son and and I find it sad tho that the Viet Gov. would permit vendors to capitalize on such a sensitive issue and that tourists would fall for such scams. Most authentic relics will be found in the museums and national archives. This has been going on a long time but there is occasionaly authentic pieces still found but it's rare at this point.