Friday, February 19, 2010

I had to use my P-38 today, which is no big thing

because I use it quite often. There was a loose screw I had to deal with so instead of running to the toolbox I took the P-38 from around my neck, tightened up the screw and that was that.

Of course, someone commented that the proper tool to do the job was a screwdriver and I promptly told him to do sommething anatomically impossible.

It wasn't the first screw I have tightened with the little tool, and it won't be the last.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the little tool, it is a GI can opener that was designed to open C-ration cans during the second World War. Every soldier going ashore on Omaha Beach had one on his dogtag chain. It stayed in service well into the late 80s because the current MRE rations are packaged in plastic and it officially made the P-38 obselete.

Still, I'd say there are a hell of a lot of current day GIs in Afghanistan that have bought them at Army-Navy stores and carry them.

I wear one on a cord around my neck with a single dogtag;both will be buried at sea with me.

The little tool os a little more than an inch bi about a half inch and there is a little folding blade. I still have my original from basic training and it still works as well as it did when I first got it. Actually, it works better.

Back in the army, I was sitting down next to a captain and he looked at the little tool thoughtfully and commented that it was probably the most efficient tool the army ever had, and that one day someone will come up with the P-38A1 with a bunch of moving parts and it wouldn't open a can worth a hoot.

How right he was. They redesigned it for a while, but the troops started getting their hands on the old ones from outside sources and the army went back to the original.

The P-38 is a hell of a lot more than a can opener. It's a multi tool of sorts in it's own right. Mine has tightened screws, dug splinters out of my hands, ripped seams, scraped things and God only knows what else. I'm constantly using it for something.

I think my original cost the government a nickel, a deal at twice the price.

The best part of it is that it's so damned simple.

Whoever thought that little jewel up ought to have been given a pension for life.

In fact, I would put it on the list of the 10 best things the government has ever done right. Maybe even at the top of the list. At least pretty damned close.

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