Light My Fire: Zippos in Vietnam

“‘Let me win your heart and mind or I’ll burn your God damn hut down.’ Those are the words inscribed on the small, slightly beat-up silver Zippo cigarette lighter that sits on my desk. On the reverse is inscribed: ‘Vietnam, 67-68, Qui Nhon,’ the time and place where I served. Below that is a pint-sized image of the pointy-nosed spy-versus-spy guy from the Mad magazine comic. I can’t remember just how and when I came into possession of that lighter. It’s been 43 years, and my memory is hazy. Its provenance aside, the fact that this wartime object keeps me company today is a small illustration of the iconic place that Zippo lighters have in the lives of those of us who took part in the American war in Vietnam—even those of us who don’t smoke. The fact is that Zippos are much more than simple metal cigarette lighters. The ubiquitous Zippo, engraved in-country, became woven into the fabric of the Vietnam War experience. These compact lighters ‘are the small, speaking, archeological objects that bear witness to great personal heroism, pride, pain and tragedy,’ wrote Jim Fiorella in his photo-filled 1998 coffee-table book, The Viet Nam Zippo, 1933-1975. The lighters served as ‘amulets and talismans bringing the keeper invulnerability, good luck and protection against evil,’ Sherry Buchanan penned in the excellent 2007 Vietnam Zippos, which examines the extensive Vietnam War Zippo collection put together by Bradford Edwards. …”
Soldiers Engraved Lighters from Vietnam
Shedding a light on the psyche of war: Zippo lighters from U.S. troops fighting in Vietnam give a unique insight into life under fire
amazon: The Viet Nam Zippo Cigarette Lighters 1933-1975 by Jim Fiorella, The Vietnam Zippos by Sherry Buchanan

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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