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Staff Officer

From the late 1920s through 1947, New Mexico’s governor had the authority to bestow the title of “honorary colonel” on whomever he wished. These “colonels” were deemed to have been appointed to the Governor’s staff, but as far as can be told from contemporary news reports, they had no duties. Likely, it was nothing more than a titular perk in return for some kind of  political favor, but one thing that the title did buy the holder was the right to be issued a Staff Officer license plate in lieu of a regular one. Because of perceived past abuses, the 1947 tags were made as “front” plates with the words “Staff Officer,” but with no serial number. That same year a law was passed prohibiting the issuance of “... number plates for privately owned vehicles that contain the words ‘staff officer’ or the like.” That was the last nail in the coffin for these interesting plates. 
Photo Credits: 1941 courtesy Joanna Wood Ray and Malcolm Kenyon. 1947 courtesy Michael Breeding. All others by Bill Johnston.


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