Aviation Art: The Lighter Side
In wartime, a customized Zippo was part of an airman's identity.
- By Rebecca Maksel
- AirSpaceMag.com, September 07, 2011
"This looks like the Zippo lighters that were given to us when our tour was up and we went home," says Jim McLaughlin, who was with the 335th Assault Helicopter Company in Vietnam from 1967-1968. "The emblem is taken from the original Cowboy patch that was changed in late 1967 or early 1968. Early in the war the Dallas Cowboys football team gave the unit permission to use their name and logo, and the patch and emblem were worked up from some of their stuff."
The design was based on the logos that pilots with the 335th stuck on the doors of their Hueys. McLaughlin has a pristine version of the lighter in his collection.
"This [Cowboys lighter] was a special order," confirms Zippo historian Linda Meabon. "They were ordered through the division, or the battalion in Vietnam, so we don't actually have records. The company couldn't keep records for the hundreds of thousands that they did through the years. The minimum to even do the engraving was 50 lighters, and they could order 500 or up to 1,000. Even though I have worked at Zippo for over 44 years, I have not seen this one."