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Vietnam War Zippos
July 5, 2012 12:50 PM   Subscribe

Engraved Zippo lighters from the Vietnam War.
posted by curious nu (37 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
A day late and a letter short.
posted by phaedon at 12:52 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


FUCK
COMMUNISM

posted by griphus at 12:55 PM on July 5, 2012 [18 favorites]


Phil Kline of Bang on a Can fame set a bunch of these some years ago. They're great.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:04 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I got one in Ho Chi Minh that said

IF YOU KNOW
WHAT HELL IS,
FUCK WITH ME
AND YOU WILL
KNOW IT

posted by saul wright at 1:14 PM on July 5, 2012


I GOT BUDDIES WHO DIED
FACE-DOWN IN THE MUCK
SO THAT YOU AND I CAN ENJOY
THIS FAMILY RESTAURANT

posted by shakespeherian at 1:18 PM on July 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


They're easy to find in stores there (mostly obvious knockoffs, but some are allegedly real and priced much higher). I got one too but can't remember the exact wording. I would have grabbed a Fuck Communism one in a heartbeat but for some reason I didn't see that for sale...
posted by Blue Meanie at 1:19 PM on July 5, 2012


Apt message.
posted by infini at 1:23 PM on July 5, 2012


The artist's backstory (NYT interview in 2006) explains his interest.
posted by Houstonian at 1:24 PM on July 5, 2012


Griphus: is that from Preacher, or did Ennis poach a true story there?
posted by Shepherd at 1:28 PM on July 5, 2012


I know it from Preacher, but can't attest to its provenance.
posted by griphus at 1:30 PM on July 5, 2012


What the heck is the thing in the center of this design? For the life of me, it looks like a dog with Santa Claus's head.
posted by XMLicious at 1:33 PM on July 5, 2012


Incredible
posted by NoMich at 1:36 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


What the heck is the thing in the center of this design? For the life of me, it looks like a dog with Santa Claus's head.

It's the guy from the Zigzag papers label.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:36 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Griphus: is that from Preacher, or did Ennis poach a true story there?

Assuming these are legit, see photo 14 in the linked gallery.
posted by zamboni at 1:36 PM on July 5, 2012


XML: I think it's a badly done rendition of the Zig-Zag logo:
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:38 PM on July 5, 2012


The first one reminds me of this: 'We've done so much with little for so long that we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.'
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:40 PM on July 5, 2012


Trench art, Previously on Metafilter
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:43 PM on July 5, 2012


SWAMP.
FUCK IT.
posted by SharkParty at 1:56 PM on July 5, 2012


FUCK
COMMUNISM


Well I know how I'm having my next iPod engraved.
posted by mazola at 1:57 PM on July 5, 2012


YOU CAN
SURF
LATER

posted by charlie don't surf at 2:00 PM on July 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Zippo lighter became popular with soldiers during WWII. Jeeps at that time had very wide gas tank inlets. A big nozzle could fit in there and dump a gush of fuel, so that the jeeps could be fueled almost instantaneously at filling stations. The opening was wide enough that a man could fit his arm in there up to the elbow, and that is how Zippos were refilled -- remove the inside portion with the cotton wick and plunge it by hand into gas tank.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:14 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Way more pictures if you follow the link to the auction, BTW.
posted by stopgap at 3:17 PM on July 5, 2012


Killing a Vietnamese teenager in 1969 would get you a medal. Killing a Vietnamese teenager in 1979 would get you a prison sentence.

I wonder if these Zippos were recovered or given, and whether the dates engraved are when the soldier could be a hero. Maybe they're just years to not forget.
posted by four panels at 3:25 PM on July 5, 2012


charlie don't surf if you read the New York Times article linked by Houstonian you learn that is the artist's favorite.
posted by bukvich at 3:42 PM on July 5, 2012


I had a coworker once who had a Zippo that had the his name, "67-68" and "I SHOULD HAVE SHOT YOUR ASS IN DA NANG WHEN I HAD THE CHANCE" engraved on it. Even twenty years later, he had terrible PTSD and was the jumpiest person I ever met.

For the last 25 years, I've been lighting my cigarettes with cheap-ass Bic lighters. I've always wanted a Zippo, but never bought one because that would be like surrendering to smoking for life.

The human mind is a crazy thing, isn't it?
posted by double block and bleed at 4:19 PM on July 5, 2012


Pretty amazing. I'm really sick of our soldiers being used as involuntary poster children for political agendas, so for me these are nice reminders that despite all the talk of Heroes and Support Our Troops, soldiers and vets are anything but a monolithic lot. Some of them buy into the God and Country rah-rah, some of them hate war and the military more than any peace activist, some of them are psychopathic lunatics, and some of them just want to do a good and honorable job and get back home alive.
posted by Rykey at 4:44 PM on July 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Gibson put these into Pattern Recognition - the restaurant Charlie Don't Surf with huge blowups of the lighters on the wall in London. The first time I read that passage it freaked me out a little as I'd seen a couple of these at antique shops and the like. The sheer quantity he's amassed - imagine how many lives that is.
posted by pupdog at 4:56 PM on July 5, 2012


YOU CAN
SURF
LATER
posted by charlie don't surf


OH, OH... Eponystyrical...
posted by RolandOfEld at 4:58 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


And a typo ruins my moment...
posted by RolandOfEld at 4:59 PM on July 5, 2012


YOU EITHER SURF
OR FIGHT

posted by charlie don't surf at 5:04 PM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


The genealogist in me wants to reunite what lighters one could with their original owners. Or at least learn what happened to the men who once carried these. Seems feasible at least for some of them with names on them.
posted by youandiandaflame at 5:47 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


shakespeherian: "
I GOT BUDDIES WHO DIED
FACE-DOWN IN THE MUCK
SO THAT YOU AND I CAN ENJOY
THIS FAMILY RESTAURANT"


[ reverse ]
AND FOR YOUR INFORMATION
THE SUPREME COURT
HAS ROUNDLY REJECTED
PRIOR RESTRAINT

posted by notsnot at 6:12 PM on July 5, 2012



LET ME WIN YOUR
HEART AND MIND
OR I'LL BURN YOUR
GOD DAMN HUT DOWN

posted by jason's_planet at 7:12 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Personal artifacts from the battlefield always make me go a big rubbery one.

Also make me want to turn to everyone I meet and say things like: "well, we could sit around talking about history, or we could sit around not talking about history, but, I mean, seriously, history or get the fuck out."
posted by IvoShandor at 9:11 PM on July 5, 2012


Nothing breeds irony as much as war. Maybe war is inherently ironic. But irony can be qualified: imbued with properties that range from simple nostalgia to abject pathos.

A friend of mine, John, served with the the 101st Airborned in Vietnam. Around the year 1999 he returned to Vietnam with a few veterans. I wished him well when he left. I was a little jealous that I wasn't going, too. He returned with a Zippo.

They toured the country from north to south, revisiting the sites of John's Fun, Travel, and Adventure with the 101st. John even enjoyed converstations with a couple of former PAVN soldiers, who told him that they called the troopers of the 101st "chicken men" on account of the screaming eagle patch, because they didn't know it was an eagle. They assured John the term was used respectfully. Perhaps so. Many veterans have gone back to Vietnam, and it's a complex adventure for everyone. Well, mostly it's complex for all the old farts. The Vietnamese kids have little awareness of the "American War," as they call it, and most American kids are aware that we had a war there, but don't know why, or where Vietnam is.

In the south John ran across a bunch of engraved Zippos in a pawn shop, and bought one. When he returned to the states he showed it to a friend, Bill, who'd been in the Marine Corps in Vietnam. As it turned out, Bill knew the name on the lighter. The man was killed in action, but Bill knew his sister--they had collaborated on a couple of websites that Bill worked on. Bill put John in touch with the sister. They--John and Bill, the sister and some cousins--had a small, careful, almost formal, meeting and greeting ceremony, and everyone got dewy eyed.

When John told me this story, hell, I even got dewey eyed.

But here's page three: The dead soldier and his sister were Americans, living in Saigon in the late 50's and early 60's. Their parents worked for the State Department, and they were young teens on the streets of Saigon in 1960. They were still living in Vietnam when man turned 18 in 1965. He joined the American Army, went to flight school, and returned to Vietnam as a helicopter pilot. His sister and the rest of his family returned to the states when the war widened. The man served more than one tour, and eventually his helicopter was shot down and he was killed.

So I guess you could say that her brother went to Southeast Asia and all she got back was a Zippo. Maybe a silver lining is better than nothing. Now Johh has another name to touch when he goes to the Wall.
posted by mule98J at 11:30 PM on July 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


METAFILTER:

STILL ROCKIN' THE
<CENTER>TAG.
BUT<BLINK>— HE'S
IN THE BAG.

posted by chairface at 1:37 PM on July 6, 2012


I sent him home to me.

This is where I lost it.
posted by arcticseal at 1:40 PM on July 6, 2012


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