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NOK: Next of Kin Army Dog Tags

Dog Tags are a hot collectible in the militaria field and the hottest of these are the Next of Kin dog tags (NOK) issued by the US Army at the beginning of WWII. These not only give you the GI’s name but also list the name and address of his next of kin and sometimes his religion and blood type. Serial numbers can also tell you if the GI was an officer or enlisted man. Many of us collect these by state and city names. Some times if you read between the lines even more can be discovered. A number of years ago at the Iola Military Show I bought a group of five NOK dog tags. All five were from Minnesota and later that night I discovered a little bit more family history than was ever intended to be revealed by dog tags. Here is how it worked out. First we have the NOK dog tags from a GI named Vernon listing his next of kin as Amanda who lived in Crookston, Minn. I assume she was his mother. This is a very early dog tag version without a blood type listed. Next we have GI Leo’s dog tag which lists his next of kin as Albert from Plummer, Minn. who I assume is his father. This dog tag is a little newer than Vernon’s and lists both Leo’s blood type and religion. Next I assume both Vernon and Leo were friends, maybe even before they entered military service. Yes I know I’m doing a lot of assuming and here is why. Next we have a newer set of dog tags for Vernon which list both his blood type and religion plus a new next of kin. On these new tags Vernon’s next of kin is now an Ann care of Leo’s father Albert in Plummer, Minn. Well I hope they all lived happily ever after. To protect their privacy I will illustrate a NOK dog tag below which is my father’s and not one of the Minnesota group.