Original U.S. Vietnam War 1966 Named Zippo Lighter Engraved For 9th Motor Transport Battalion - Dated 1966, 67, 68
Original Item: Only One Available. After an American M1 combat helmet with an ace of spades tucked into the strap, probably the next most iconic cultural image associated with the Vietnam War is a Zippo lighter engraved with a tragic, humorous, aggressive, patriotic, or rebellious slogan.
Many such engraved Zippos have survived the war’s end and often trade hands between collectors for large sums of money. The images and slogans engraved onto these instantly recognizable lighters can give one a poignant look inside the minds and lives of the young men who served, fought, and died so far from home.
Zippo lighters have a long history of being associated with the American military. When America entered the Second World War after Pearl Harbor, the Zippo company stopped selling their lighters to the consumer market and instead dedicated the entirety of their lighter production to the United States military.
Vietnam War Zippos represent a varied and popular category for collectors for militaria collectors as well as for Zippo collectors. There are Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard Vietnam Zippos, as well as Zippos for the RVN, Australian and other services. A subset of Vietnam War Navy Zippos are Riverine or so-called “Brown-Water” Navy Zippos. There are different types of Vietnam engravings which are not necessarily mutually exclusive:
- Zippo factory engraved
- Engraved "in-field" during the War
- Engraved by Veterans after the war as personal souvenirs
- Engraved in more recent times to be sold as "in-field" Vietnam Zippos to unsuspecting collectors. There are also fakes, meaning lighters that closely resemble genuine Zippos that collectors should watch out for.
A note on how to verify that this is an authentic VIETNAM era zippo lighter- To determine a ZIPPO's with correct date marks (before 1975) check the zippo date according to the dating card supplied by the zippo firm. For the years between 1966 and 1975 (Vietnam war ended in April 1975) the codes are: four vertical bars each side of the italicized zippo logo for 1966. Then the bars were removed alternatively first on the right and then on the left. So for 1967 four bars on the left and three on the right, three each side for 1968 and so one until 1973 last year with vertical bar coding. Lighters from 1973 have one bar on the left and nothing on the right. In 1974, the code marks turned to slashes; four slashes on each side of the italicized zippo logo and in 1975 only three slashes on the right part.
This particular lighter has four vertical bars on the left and four more on the right of the ZIPPO logo meaning it was manufactured in 1966.
The engraving featured on the front and back of the lighter:
JOHN P. HILL
WHEN THIS MARINE
DIES HE WILL GO TO
HE HAS ALLREADY
SPENT HIS TIME
The “ALLREADY” is not a mistake in our spelling, that is how it was engraved and was more than likely done so while “in country”
The reverse engravings:
We have unfortunately not been able to locate the service information for this Marine, making this a wonderful research project!
Lighter appears to be in functional condition with a good flint, though we have not added fluid. The underside of the lighter bears the ZIPPO logo and Bradford, PA, with 8 hash marks or vertical lines which denote manufacture of 1966.
Comes more than ready for display!
The Zippo method of manufacture was also affected by the United States’ entry into WWII. Because of the need to divert raw materials to wartime production of armaments, Zippo lighters manufactured for US military personnel during the war were made with steel covered with a black crackle finish.
However, Zippo lighters attained a uniquely iconic status among US troops during the Vietnam War.
These lighters were carried by almost every American serviceman involved in the conflict, and it was during this time that some of the most interesting and sometimes sentimental customizations of these lighters emerged. Many of the slogans and images emblazoned on them have themselves become quintessential images of the war.
Many of the slogans reflect the views of career servicemen, who had already been serving in the military prior to the conflict and would continue to do so after it ended. They were men who were proud to serve and believed strongly in the cause they were fighting for.
For such servicemen, slogans were kept to a minimum; if they got their Zippo lighters engraved, it would usually be with their unit’s name, badge, or motto, or else something patriotic.
The Vietnam War was one of the first, however, to see mass public opposition to the conflict back home. There was huge social upheaval going on in the United States in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s: the Civil Rights movement, the Beat Generation and Hippy movements, the rebellion of rock ‘n’ roll, and a growing, vocal anti-war movement.
Consequently, the Vietnam War became more and more unpopular as the years dragged on.
While many young men volunteered to fight in the war, others – often from the working class and various minority communities – were unwillingly drafted and forced to fight in a war they had no interest in. It is from this latter class of young men that many of the most poignant slogans on Zippo lighters come.
Some simply reflect the relief of surviving combat with one’s life intact: “You have never lived ‘till you’ve almost died. For those who fight for it, life has a flavour the protected will never know.”
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