Vietnam. Verge of a war on the faces of two Zippo. Part first.

This story, in a way, just a lot of stories, but above all, it is two stories of two military lighters, passed with their owners through the "Vietnamese hell."

As a representative of a different generation, a different culture and a different profession, I apologize in advance, participants of events for inaccuracies. Hopefully, I will be faithful in the main.

Two Zippo, the last of the Vietnam War, were in my collection at different times and in different ways: first, I won the auction the one that was released in 1968, and then Vladimir Mihnovich gave me a second, in 1966, with our first internal meeting, and I can not call this a gift otherwise than the king. In order of appearance of these "flip flops" in my house and I'll tell you. In terms of the history of the world - is a violation of chronology. But now the life of these Zippo - and my story, and it all happened exactly in reverse chronological order.

So, the story first:

Zippo 1968 173d Abn Bde Vietnam Dak To

On this Zippo you see the sign and the name of the 173rd Airborne Brigade "Sky Soldiers". They are applied at the factory, which in itself is remarkable: a model of a limited batch of Zippo, issued for a specific military unit.

But the most interesting, as almost always in the lighter, held any war, the so-called trench art. Because homemade soldering and engraving reminiscent of the great events, and more - in the words inscribed on the lighters and slogans reflect a person's character, habits and way of thinking.

On the front wall of the cover you will see the words: «VIETNAM» and «DAK TO». With the first title is clear, but in the second I will dwell.

Battle of Duck That - is a series of battles in November 1967, between the troops of the United States (with the support of the South Vietnamese) and North Vietnam. For three weeks, the 1st Division of the North Vietnamese Army was trying to take the town Duck-way through the rugged and almost uninhabited area near the Vietnam-Laos border, in the central plateau of South Vietnam. Strategically, it was a very important area: hence it was possible to strike to the north, south and east up to the coast, having mastered, so the whole northern part of South Vietnam. The second task of the North Vietnamese were the most damage to any American unit for propaganda purposes.

173rd Airborne Brigade was involved in this confrontation is almost at full strength.

Here is a picture of the American magazine «Life» of the time, it was related to one of the episodes of a three-week series of battles for Duck That. In the picture, as far as I can see, captures the moment when the brigade chaplain communion soldiers before battle. Note the chevron of the soldier in the foreground, in the lower right corner of the frame. In the photo - Sky Soldiers, soldiers 173rd.

The brigade participated in the climax, and the bloodiest episode of the entire series of battles. After fierce fighting, the North Vietnamese retreated to Laos (and the politics of war States prohibits open warfare outside Vietnam). The retreat was covered by a division of the North Vietnamese, who took a position at a height of 875. During the storming of the heights of the 2nd Battalion 173d Abn Bde got into a carefully prepared ambush, was surrounded and suffered heavy losses. As a result, the height was still taken by the Americans November 23, 1967, and this is the final battle of Dak-To.

Another photo of the day of the «Life». In the foreground - 98 pairs of army boots. In memory of the fighters of the 2nd Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade, who died at the height of 875. One pair for each of the fallen, as if they were invisible, have remained in service Sky Soldiers.

This battle is called one of the bloodiest in the history of the Vietnam War. The commander of U.S. forces and allies in Vietnam, General William Westmoreland estimated fights Duck That as an operation that "... on the mass, the losses of the enemy and even surpassed the ferocity of the campaign in the valley of the Ya-Drang in 1965."

Westmoreland was the author of the strategy Search and destroy - «search and destroy." It was a strategy focused on the discovery and destruction of large formations of enemy, the opposition of large forces in major battles. Forays beyond the control of the U.S. Army on the territory of the government to find and destroy the enemy called Search and Destroy mission. You know what was the second title in this military operation? «Zippo Mission»!

And the said general battle, played out two years before the Duck That, in 1965, when Ya-Drang, became world famous after the book about it, and especially - after the movie, delivered later in the book - "We Were Soldiers." The glory of this battle is true, especially since it was the first major clash of the American and North Vietnamese troops. But the Battle of Duck That was bloody, though it is less well known.

General Westmoreland declared victory at Dak-To, but, as in the battle of Ya-Drang (where both parties are considered, and still consider themselves victorious) the outcome of this "bloody porridge" is hardly an unambiguous victory for the Americans. On the one hand, the North Vietnamese did not have Duck That. On the other hand, part of the North Vietnamese Army's task - to cause grave damage to the Americans - has been completed.

At the end of the Battle of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, even temporarily, to stop participating in combat operations, pending completion of the personnel.

21 days of fighting in the area of Duck That 173d Airborne Brigade lost:
272 people killed
About 900 people - the wounded
60 people missing

This is the data on the basis of taking the parts of the 173rd Airborne Brigade height 875 (General overhead view of Hill 875, November 24th).

Zippo, about which and around which I lead story was acquired after the end of the events in Duck That next year, and then he struck engraved in the memory of the battle. Engravers could have a gallery of drawings and a list of expressions running, offering them a choice of GIs who wanted to decorate his steel "combat girlfriend." Owner lighters went through a nightmare, in which many of his comrades were killed, but look what he has chosen the motto of many possible:

"Freedom for those who fought for it, has a special flavor that the protected will never know"

This motto appears on Vietnamese Zippo throughout the war. About as envisioned their "combat mission" Recruit and volunteer character of Charlie Sheen's Stone "Platoon." The Vietnam War, and earlier - in Korea, have been campaigns against communist ideology, spreading through the world, and South Vietnam, relying on the support of the U.S., I knew what to fear: the defeat of the United States in the war, the communist government of Vietnam drove the lion's share of its residents concentration camp (the so-called "re-education camps"), and "red plague" spread to neighboring Cambodia, and in a few years not even deprived of freedom and life millions of people. This is well to remember those citizens of America, who to this day believes American soldiers dying for the ideals of his country - a murderer. However, in these injustices of our fellow citizens in their time have succeeded no less watering dirt heroes of Afghan War ...

The mention of "Afghans" are not accidental. I purchased the lighter the American Vietnam veteran. He also served for a time in the ranks of the Sky Soldiers, and later was transferred to another unit. In our correspondence, he said that a few years ago was visiting Russia at the invitation of his Russian friends - veterans of Afghanistan. He traveled to Moscow and even visited my native St. Petersburg, admiring the beauty of ancient architecture. Veteran wrote to me: he was pleased that the lighter will be in Russia. When this year I congratulated him on the 40th anniversary of his return from Vietnam, once again expressing his admiration for the heroism of U.S. troops in the war, he thanked me and said, let's not forget the heroism of the opposing party - soldier in the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong.

The back of the zippo, on the cover - the inscription «WIDOW MAKER». One of the earliest mentions of this expression is preserved in Shakespeare's «King John»:

"It grieves my soul, That I must draw this metal from my side, To be a widow-maker."

Salisbury in "King John" grieving that must draw the sword to become a "doer of widows."

One of the Russian rolling movie titles «K-9. Widow maker »in translation sounded like a" K-9. Creating widows. " In a more recent version of the name already sounds like "K-9. Threat to life. " This expression really can (and probably should) be translated as "dangerous / st / st for life," and that just not commemorate this nickname in the English culture! For example, the loggers called "Widowmaker" treetops, particularly dangerous in the logging, so can identify the faulty machine in the army that is one of the nicknames of the grenade launcher (which, by the way, could mean that the owner of a Zippo thrower). And so on and so forth. By the way, fought in Vietnam Helicopter AH-1 Cobra with the inscription on the board.

The combination of images and text on this lighter can be called a great collector's finding, one of the deadliest battles of the Vietnam War, the brigade, which has appeared in the "hell" of battle, one of the most interesting phrases in the English language, and finally - one of the most striking statements attitudinaly GIs to his role in the war (and in fact are often engraved on the case just hobbies and things soldier, like beer, sex or ... Mickey Mouse.)

So this is lighter soldier who fought in a massive battle in the major military units. It has a significant attrition, and to touch her body round as "remnant" with smooth edges. And as her first owner in the war, and feel in the hand, this Zippo is very different from the other 1966-year. But about it - a little later, in the second part of the story .

Alexander Vanguard

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Tags: Vietnam


  1. Cheeff (30.04.2009 19:02) ( Reply )

    Really liked statya.Zhdu else.

    1. solobok (01.05.2009 00:16) ( Reply )

      Thank you! The second will. As soon as I find the time to select and organize the available historical material. In such cases, the most difficult - is to select. Love and war can talk endlessly ... and Zippo - too.

  2. GhostRider (31.03.2011 15:43) ( Reply )


  3. Backbeat (09.11.2011 09:10) ( Reply )

    Join us, an interesting article, but my personal opinion to talk about the war for freedom - the U.S. had no right to go into someone else as the Romans. For freedom, once again, fought the Viet Cong. Freedom from American ideals.

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