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For other countries version of a service number, see "Service number"

Service numbers of the United States were used by the United States armed forces as the primary means of service member identification from 1918 until 1974. Service numbers are public information available under the Freedom of Information Act, unlike social security numbers which are protected by the Privacy Act of 1974,[1]

Contents

Service Number Usage

Each branch of the military service had its own version of service numbers. In order by year of creation, these were:

The following are the original service numbers which were first issued to United States military personnel[2] :

  • R-1: Arthur Crean - First service number of the United States armed forces
  • O-1: John J. Pershing - First officer service number of the United States Army
  • 100 00 01: Clayton Aab — First enlisted service number of the United States Navy
  • 532 - Samuel R. Colhoun — Earliest recorded officer service number of the United States Navy
  • 01 - James Ackerman - First officer service number of the United States Marine Corps
  • 20001 - Alexander Schott — First enlisted service number of the United States Marine Corps
  • 1000 - Joseph F. Farley - First officer service number of the United States Coast Guard
  • 100000 - Mason B. Herring — First enlisted service number of the United States Coast Guard
  • 4A: Hoyt Vandenberg - Earliest recorded officer service number of the United States Air Force

The original Air Force enlisted force was comprised of personnel formerly of the United States Army Air Forces who continued to use their Army service numbers upon transfer to the Air Force in 1947. Thus, there is no established "first" enlisted service number of the U.S. Air Force since thousands of airmen simultaneously transferred into the Air Force on September 18, 1947.[3]

Service numbers were eventually phased out completely by the social security number; the Army and Air Force converted to social security numbers on July 1, 1969, the Navy and Marine Corps on January 1, 1972, and the Coast Guard on October 1, 1974.[4] Since that time, social security numbers have become the de facto military service number for United States armed forces personnel.

Beginning in 2002, the military began a further effort to protect the use of social security numbers, even within the military itself. New regulations declared that on all but the most official of documents (such as a DD Form 214 or evaluation reports) social security numbers would only list the last four digits. Regulations also were enacted to redact the social security number of reporting seniors (which were written in their entirety) on the personal copies of evaluation reports given to service members. The reason for this was to prevent possible identity theft issues committed by service members who had received a bad evaluation or who were disgruntled with their commanding officer[5]

Service numbers have also been mentioned in films and other media. Some examples include:

  • In the motion picture Where Eagles Dare, a captured American general (who is actually an actor impersonating the general) gives a Regular Army service number as "RA 123 025 3964". Not only does this service have too many digits, but uses the prefix "RA" which was not put into effect until after World War II.
  • In the film The Scarlet and the Black, a downed Allied pilot gives his rank and service number to a Vatican official.
  • A set of dog tags bearing the Army service number "O-168042" can be seen in the film Angel Heart as the service number of Harry Angel. According to U.S. Army records, no officer was ever actually issued this number; the only person who ever held this service number was an enlisted soldier named John W. Cunyus who served during the First World War.[6]
  • In the film Jacob's Ladder, when Tim Robbins's character unfolds an old Army discharge certificate, the service number "US 21 719 365" can briefly be seen. This would correspond to a National Guard service number with a prefix indicating follow-on conscription into the Army of the United States. According to United States Army records, the service number seen in the film was assigned to a soldier named Thomas K. Wright, who served from 1959 to 1961 with discharge as a Specialist Fourth Class.[7] Thomas Wright would later become the property master for the film Jacob's Ladder, using his own service number for the scene where the discharge certificate is briefly visible on camera.[8]

Service Number Format

The general design of United States service numbers was created first by the United States Army and later adapted by the other branches of the armed forces. Between each branch, service numbers are assigned differently while some branches make a conscious effort to separate officer and enlisted numbers while others do not. It is therefore common in the U.S. service number system for officers and enlisted personnel to perhaps hold the same service number and even more common for service members from different branches to be assigned the same number as well.

The Army is the only branch of service to begin both officer and enlisted service numbers at #1. Marine Corps officer numbers also begin at #1 but Marine Corps enlisted numbers start much later at #20,001. There is also no service #1 in the Navy, Coast Guard, or Air Force although the earliest recorded Air Force officer number was #4.

The entire range of United States service numbers extends from 1 to 99,999,999 with the United States Army and Air Force the only services to use numbers higher than ten million. A special range of numbers from one to seven thousand (1 - 7000) was also used by the United States Air Force Academy for assignment only to cadets and was not considered part of the regular service number system. Another unique service number series was the National Guard which used service numbers solely in the range of twenty to twenty nine million (20,000,000 - 29,999,999).

Service Number Army Enlisted Army Officer Navy Enlisted Navy Officer Air Force Enlisted Air Force Officer Marine Enlisted Marine Officer Coast Guard Enlisted Coast Guard Officer
1 - 100 World War I enlisted personnel World War I officers Not issued Not issued Not issued Senior Air Force officers formally of the Army Air Forces Not issued World War I officers Not issued Not issued
101 - 500 USMC Officers (1920s)
501 - 1000 Navy Officers (1920)
1001 - 2000 Navy Officers
(1920s - 1930s)
USMC Officers
(1930 - 1941)
Regular USCG Officers
(1921 - 1974)
2001 - 10,000 USMC Officers (World War II)
10,001 - 20,000 Regular Army officers (1920s/1930s) B" & "D" Series Numbers
(1965-1971)
20,001 - 30,000 Regular USAF Officers (1948-1969) Retroactive (1905-1917) Reserve/Warrant USCG Officers (1921-1950s)
30,001 - 50,000 Regular Army officers (1940s/1950s)
50,001 - 60,000 Not issued USMC Officers (1948-1966)
60,001 - 70,000 Regular Army officers (1950s/1960s) Retroactive (1905-1919) Non-Regular USCG Officers (1950s/1960s)
70,001 - 80,000 Non-Regular USCG Officers (1960s/1970s)
80,001 - 90,000 "Special Use" service numbers
90,001 - 99,999 Regular Army (Late 1960s)
100,000 - 125,000 Not issued USMC Enlisted (1920-1935) USMC Officers (1966-1972) USCG Enlisted (1920s/1930s) Not issued
125,001 - 140,000 Navy Officers
(World War II)
Not issued
140,001 - 150,000 Officer Reserves (1920's - 1941)
150,001 - 200,000 Retroactive Service Numbers
200,001 - 255,000 USMC Enlisted (1936-1941) USCG Enlisted (World War II)
255,001 - 350,000 USCG Enlisted (1945-1962)
350,001 - 500,000 Navy Officers (1945-1955) USMC Enlisted (Early World War II) USCG Enlisted (1962-1974)
500,001 - 600,000 Officer Reserves (1942-1954) USCG Enlisted (World War II)
600,001 - 671,000 Navy Officers (1955-1963)
671,001 - 700,000 Navy Officers (1964-1969) Not issued
700,001 - 800,000 USMC Female Enlisted
800,001 - 1,000,000 Special Duty Officers
(1921-1969)
Not issued USMC Enlisted (Mid World War II)
1,000,001 - 1,700,000 Army Officers (1942-1954) Enlisted Series 100 (Retroactive) USMC Enlisted (1943-1953) Not issued
1,700,001 - 1,800,000 USMC Female Enlisted
1,800,001 - 2,000,000 Early Air Force Reserve USMC Enlisted (1953-1965)
2,000,001 - 2,800,000 Enlisted Series 200 (1920-1971) Not issued USMC Enlisted (1966-1972) USCG Enlisted (1948-1974)
2,800,001 - 2,999,999 Not issued
3,000,000 - 3,999,999 Warrant officers (1957-1969) Enlisted Series 300 (1920-1971) Air Force officers (1948-1969) World War II (Special Duty)
4,000,000 - 4,999,999 Army officers (1954-1957) Enlisted Series 400 (1920-1971) Not issued Female enlisted
(1942-1945)
5,000,000 - 5,999,999 Army officers (1957-1969) Enlisted Series 500 (1920-1971) Special Duty enlisted
(1942)
6,000,000 - 6,999,999 Army enlisted (1919-1941) Not issued Enlisted Series 600 (1920-1971) World War II (Special Duty)
7,000,000 - 7,100,000 Enlisted Series 700 (1920-1971) USCG Enlisted (1943-1945)
7,100,001 - 7,999,999 Not issued
8,000,000 - 8,999,999 Female enlisted (1948-1969) Enlisted Series 800 (1920-1971) Female enlisted (1948-1969) Not issued
9,000,000 - 9,999,999 Not issued Enlisted Series 900 (1920-1971) Not issued
10,000,000 - 10,999,999 Regular Army (Enlisted Extra-US) Not issued Regular Air Force
11,000,000 - 19,999,999 Regular Army
20,000,000 - 29,999,999 Army National Guard Air National Guard
30,000,000 - 30,999,999 World War II draftees (Extra-US) WWII crossover #s
31,000,000 - 39,999,999 World War II draftees
40,000,000 - 49,999,999 Special duty enlisted
50,000,000 - 59,999,999 Army draft force
(P-WWII)
Air Force draft force
(1948-1966)
60,000,000 - 69,999,999 Army draft force
(Late 1960s)
Air Force draft force
(1966-1969)
70,000,000 - 89,999,999 Not issued Not issued
90,000,000 - 99,999,999 Philippine Army
Augments (WWII)

Service Number Prefix & Suffix Codes

Service number prefix and suffix codes were one and two letter designators written before or after a service number; a service member could only have one code at any given time. The purpose of these codes was to provide additional information regarding a military service member with the very first prefix codes created by the Army in 1920 and greatly expanded over the next thirty years. The Navy created the first suffix code "W", written after the service numbers of female enlisted personnel, but it was the Air Force that made the greatest use of suffix codes until 1965 when the Air Force switched to using prefixes. Some prefix and suffix codes were also re-introduced, with different meanings, by various branches of military. In the modern age, the only code that survives is the suffix code "FR", written after the social security numbers of Regular Air Force personnel.

Service Number Code Branch of Service Prefix/Suffix Meaning
A Army & Air Force Prefix & Suffix As a prefix, used by members of the Women Army Corps.
As a suffix, used by Regulr Air Force officers until 1965.
AA Air Force Prefix Used by personnel of the "Women in the Air Force" (WAF)
AD Air Force Prefix Used by Air Force aviation cadets
AF Air Force Prefix Used by male Air Force enlisted personnel
AO Army & Air Force Prefix First used by the Army Air Corps to denote Regular Army officers who were qualified in aviation. Later used by the Army Air Forces (and eventually the Air Force Reserve) to denote reserve officers
AR Air Force Prefix Used by Air Force dieticians
AW Air Force Prefix Used by Air Force warrant officers
B Navy Prefix Used between 1965 and 1971 as part of the "B-Series" enlisted service numbers
D Navy Prefix Used between 1969 and 1971 as part of the "D-Series" enlisted service numbers
E Air Force Suffix Used by male Air Force warrant officers until 1965
ER Army Prefix Used by enlisted members of the Army Reserve
F Army Prefix Used by field clerks during the First World War
FG Air Force Prefix Used by officers and warrant officers of the Air National Guard
FR Army & Air Force Prefix & Suffix Used briefly as an Army prefix by some enlisted members of the Army Reserve. Later used as an Air Force prefix for all officers and warrant officers of the Regular Air Force. After 1969, used as a suffix for Regular Air Force officers, written after the social security number.
FT Air Force Prefix Used by Air Force officers and warrant officers who were without a component
FV Air Force Prefix Used by Air Force Reserve officers and warrant officers
H Air Force Suffix Used by female Air Force warrant officers until 1965
K Army & Air Force Prefix & Suffix As a prefix, used by female specialist officers with service numbers of 100 001 and higher.
As a suffix, used by Air Force Academy cadets until 1965
KF Army Prefix Used female Regular Army officers
L Army Prefix Used by enlisted members of the Women's Army Corps
MJ Army Prefix Used by Occupational Therapist Officers
MM Army Prefix Used by Physical Therapist Officers
MN Army Prefix Used by male members of the Army Nurse Corps
MR Army Prefix Used by Army enlisted dieticians
N Army Prefix Used by female nurse officers
NG Army Prefix Used by National Guard personnel
O Army Prefix Originally used by Regular Army officers prior to World War II.
In the 1960s, used by Army specialist officers.
OF Army Prefix Used by male Regular Army officers
R Army Prefix Originally used by Regular Army World War I enlisted personnel.
In the 1960s, used by Army officer dieticians
RA Army Prefix Used by Regular Army enlisted personnel
RM Army Prefix Used by Regular Army enlisted personnel holding
temporary commissions as warrant officers
RO Army Prefix Used by Regular Army enlisted personnel holding temporary reserve officer commissions
RP Army Prefix Used by retired Regular Army enlisted personnel upon recall to active duty
RV Army Prefix Used by female warrant officers granted reserve commissioned officer billets
RW Army Prefix Used by male warrant officers granted reserve commissioned officer billets
T Army Prefix Used by flight officers appointed from an enlisted status
UR Army Prefix Used by draft peronnel who are later appointed
officers in the Regular Army
US Army Prefix Used by enlisted draft personnel of the Army of the United States
W Army, Air Force, Navy, & Marine Corps Prefix & Suffix As a prefix, used by Regular Army Warrant Officers. Also used by female Regular Air Force officers and female Marine Corps enlisted personnel. As a suffix, used by Navy female enlisted personnel
WA Army Prefix Used by enlisted members of the Women's Army Corps
WL Army Prefix Used by female Regular Army personnel granted
officer commissions in the Army Reserve
WM Army Prefix Used by female Regular Army personnel granted
warrant officer commissions in the Army Reserve
WR Army Prefix Used by female enlisted reservists of the Women's Army Corps

Sources

References

  1. ^ "Information releasable under the Freedom of Information Act". National Archives. http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/foia-info.html#mprfoia.  
  2. ^ National Personnel Records Center, Military Operations Branch, "Service number index and registry of retired, deceased, and discharged military personnel" (2007)
  3. ^ Department of the Air Force, TRF ORDER 1, 26 September 1947
  4. ^ "Service number information". National Archives. http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/social-security-numbers.html.  
  5. ^ "Navy Fitrep and Eval Writing Guide". Department of the Navy. http://www.navyfitrep.com/books/navy_eval_and_fitrep_writing_guide.html.  
  6. ^ United States Army Human Resources Command (HRC), Freedom of Information Act Inquiry, February 2009
  7. ^ United States Army Human Resource Command, Freedom of Information Act material, obtained October 2009
  8. ^ Screen Actors Guild, "Listing of Property Masters and Set Producers" (1993)
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