FAQ: Are all the U.S. military “dog tags” sold on the streets in Vietnam fakes?

“After examining and analyzing hundreds of dog tags, our research has concluded that 99% of the dog tags being sold on the streets of Vietnam are genuine, but are not from Americans listed as MIA – that is, they were worn, carried by US troops in-country and ‘lost’ for a variety of reasons.

Several years ago we established a listing/database on our web site of 1,444 dog tags purchased by a US tourist (a database search revealed that none of the dog tags were from Americans listed as MIA) hoping that readers would see their name on the list, verify that the dog tag was actually theirs and not someone else’s, and request that we send the dog tag to them.

As a result, we’ve been able to verify the authenticity of 27 dog tags (queries from web readers) and return them to their owners or family members (if deceased). We’ve determined that these real dog tags were lost for many reasons to include when their dog tag chains broke or when they turned them in during out-processing in-country.

Considering the fact that 2.5 million American troops served in Southeast Asia, it’s not surprising that thousands of dog tags have ended up on the streets of Vietnam. So, we are aware of the availability of these tags and understand how people might be concerned that they are related to an MIA; however we do not recommend people purchase them as they are probably items that were simply lost or discarded during the war.”

Source: Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command, Vietnam