Thursday, May 3, 2018

serial numbers/dog tags

In an era when numbers and gods can be hopelessly intertwined, I thought of the dog-tag numbers of my old and now deceased friend William B. McKechnie III.

It always amazed both of us that our dog-tag numbers should be so relatively close, one to the next, and that we should become friends during our (mandatory) military service in the early 1960's. And that both or us became German linguists and ended up stationed in Berlin together.

I had thought to look up on the Great God Google whether there were any recollection of my old friend's serial number ... or mine either, come to that. The numbers were things we had to memorize very early in our three-year hitches. Bill's was 14-779-051 and mine was 14-779-240. Like everyone else, both of had two and they were worn around the neck pretty much at all times. They clinked together. If the numbers meant anything, then Bill an I were in a multi-million-man gene pool. Among millions, somehow we ended up friends, working at the same place in Berlin, sharing beer-drinking extravaganzas and equally-extravagant hangovers.

Unbeknownst to each of us, both of us signed on the military dotted line in Florida. Both went to South Carolina for basic training. Both went to what was then called the Army Language School in Monterrey, Calif., which is where we met. But the closeness of our serial numbers was somehow magical ... think of it: gazillions of recruits and yet our numbers were so relatively close ... a mere 189 separating us. The impact, I suspect, was reinforced when I looked out on the various parade grounds were I was stationed ... zillions of young men running around in green fatigues and vastly different serial numbers. What are the odds?

Well I don't and didn't know the odds and the topic is not top-drawer interesting, but for all the seriousness with which we took our serial numbers (you would get yelled at if you could not rattle it off at some sergeant's command), I thought perhaps the Great God Google would have some record or recollection of those 'serious' times. Gods, and perhaps number gods most particularly, have long memories I imagined ... or was it "hoped?"

My search on Google turned up nothing. Whatever seriousness had been seemed to be long since forgotten. Where do serial numbers go when their users are no longer using them? I remember mine and I remember Bill's, but ... where did all that importance and relevance and damn-near DNA go to? And how is it, so late in the game, that I should wonder where my friend's serial number had got to?

1 comment:

  1. Finally getting the hang of Windows 10? Early on, I read and heard that Microsoft’s changes under W10 were not well received and drove some people off the deep end. My wife says that some people at her job still have problems due to the interface change.

    I’ve been using Macintosh Computers since the early 1990’s and prefer that company’s traditional concern for the user experience. FYI - I have read that Steve Jobs was familiar with the principles of Zen aesthetics and these principle were taken into account in the interface design.

    You should be very happy that, so far, Military ID numbers are not _easy_ to find and your information has been protected (intentionally or not).

    That doesn’t be that Militar IDs and the information attached to them can’t be accessed by someone with the right skill set and access codes (legal or otherwise).

    I did find offers to trace such numbers which required additional effort and, I gather, payment.

    Bottom Line: If you are interested in accessing your records the Army does offer a way:

    I don’t know about you, I’d pay a nominal fee to get those records, if only just out of a perverse & insistent curiosity.

    I also admired the benefits that can accrue to military service. But only if such military service is during relatively calm times under stable leadership.