Ginger Cucolo, wife of former 3rd Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, is a burgeoning author. Cucolo wrote “Dog Tags: The History, Personal Stories, Cultural Impact and Future of Military Identification.”
Her book details the history of dog tags and includes personal accounts of the item that keeps service members’ individual identities intact. Cucolo dedicated “Dog Tags” to her Navy veteran father, the late H.K. Allen.
The 344-page history was published by Allen House Publishing at the end of June. It’s available for $13.46 at a number of online retailers including amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and borders.com.
Cucolo began researching the book at her husband’s urging in January 2007.
“Once I realized I wanted to do the research, I began asking blogs, message boards and magazines for any stories connected to the identification tag,” she said. “Stories flowed in and I knew I wanted to share their stories and get as many people remembered as possible. It has been a rewarding and touching journey for me.”
Cucolo finished the research for her book before her husband took command in June 2008.
“I continued to get personal stories from individuals during his command and continue to receive stories even today,” she said. “I did not want to publish during Tony’s command.”
The general’s wife said she didn’t want to split her time between promoting her book and supporting her husband’s command while he led the 3rd ID.
“I didn’t want to take time away from being there for the division,” Cucolo said. “I wanted to give my all to the community and the division, so I put the book aside.”
Once her husband passed command on to Maj. Gen. Robert “Abe” Abrams on April 15, Cucolo said she was able to focus on marketing her book.
“Right now I have been focused on radio interviews and blog interviews and have done five so far,” Cucolo said. “What has been interesting is that not many people know about the book, but when we start talking about it — especially the subject matter — they become enthused about it and sharing it with others. I am hoping to do speaking engagements and book signings in the future.”
Jill Crider, wife of 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team Commander Col. James Crider, said she was glad Cucolo wrote a factual account about dog tags.
Crider submitted a story about her father, Arnold Sanders, and his specialized dog tags for Cucolo’s book. A photo of Crider’s father and three uncles — who served in the military between World War II, Korea and Vietnam — also is included in the book.
She said her father, now deceased, had suffered from dementia before his death. Crider said her mother was concerned her father might wander and become confused and have a hard time finding his way home. But because her father never would wear jewelry of any kind, “especially a bracelet that declares a disability,” the family ordered specialized dog tags for him from a store in Fort Knox, Ky.
“He had no problem wearing the dog tags whatsoever,” Crider said.
Cucolo’s history of the dog tag was not her first writing project. The longtime military spouse said she first realized she could write when her husband returned from a deployment to Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Drum, N.Y.
“I started getting a story in my head,” Cucolo recalled. “We were living in Chesapeake, Va. I really started writing out of the blue. The story was going faster in my head than I could write it down. I wrote a trilogy and I just realized I loved writing. I then wanted to do a historical piece. Tony came up with the dog tags idea. After some research, I realized how important it would be. Now I have a love of writing.”
Cucolo’s fictional trilogy is about a young girl who immigrated to America during the Irish potato famine. She said she is thinking about writing a nonfiction book about Vivandieres, the women who followed soldiers to run canteens and tend the sick, sometimes even taking up arms, during the Civil War.
Cucolo said her husband and children are supportive of her writing.
“My children have announced it on their Facebook pages,” she said. “My husband keeps a copy on his desk. When they’re out with me and people ask about it, they all have their favorite stories they can share.”
For more information, visit the author’s webpage at www.dogtaghistory.com.