It is a common tradition with the US military; they didn’t bring home the dead bodies of the soldiers. During the war in early 1800s, most of the soldiers are buried in the war front. The remains of the soldiers are collected and sent back to their homes. The scenario is little different at present. The air crews flown the remains of 5000 dead troops back to the US since the combats in Iran and Afghanistan set off.
It is an emotional moment for the Air Force officials when they have to regularly fly dead troops back to their home states. Inspite of the heavy tolls, the air crews have to do their jobs to convey their family members that the soldiers are watched and taken care of at every step. Until the late 19th century, the military troops do not put extra efforts to differentiate the identity of the dead soldiers. Nearly 14000 soldiers died in 1846 at the Mexican American War. Only 750 remaining items are brought back to the US for burial. It was impossible to identify even a single soldier.
The new system of burying dead militaries began at the time of the Civil War and the U.S takes this effort seriously during the Spanish American War. The military brought back remains of thousands of troops of the soldiers killed in Cuba and Philippines. In both world wars, the relatives of the American soldiers are given the choice whether they want their loved ones to be buried permanently in the overseas cemeteries or brought back for reburial in the US grounds.
Those who wanted their husbands and sons to return to them are put in a long wait. The military changed the way of handling back the war dead from the Korean War. The officials now go to extremes to recover the remains of fallen troops. With the use of modern technology, the lag time between when troops die in the field and when the dead soldiers’ body returned to the family is cut short to a single day.
Identifying the body of the soldiers
The question remains, when the military brings back remains of a soldier’s body, how the family members identify their loved ones. This is the reason why tags are made official in the military. Only 58% of the soldiers killed in action in the American Civil War are identified after the war. Soldiers leaving for the war often feared if they will be killed in combat, their families will remain ignorant.
During the 1930s the social security number was stamped on a metal plate and worn by soldiers. From World War II machines were used to stamp the tags. The tags are rectangular in shape with round ends and notch at the other end. It was believed that the notch was added so that the tag can be put in the mouth of the dead soldiers. Contrary to the belief, the notch was actually required to hold the blank in place when the tags are stamped. In more recent times, during the Vietnam War different types of stamping machines are used. But the tags often make clinging sound which causes problem during the battle. So, rubber covers were introduced to keep the tags silent. Soldiers usually keep a tag in their boots, in case the body is mutilated and normal identification is impossible, the tag in their boots will help them to get recognized.
The American style military dog tagsare in use throughout the world. American soldiers still use the metal tags, but the new generation tags hold a microchip that carries the bearing soldier’s medical and dental information. The Marines have developed a distinct version for them. The technology used in that tags can locate a wounded soldier with the aid of Global Positioning System (GPS).
Future of tags
At present the dog owners implant microchip in the dog’s neck that stores identification number. An external scanner can read the details stored in the chip. From this it can be concluded that we are not far off when microchip will be implanted in the human body from birth. It is also not hard to imagine that the chip will be able to store massive amount of important information. Such a tag will not only help to identify the location of the individual but will also provide essential details when there will be emergencies.
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