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Return to Vietnam

A veteran, his daughter, their journey

Three letters from home, two dog tags, and a P-38 can opener under the tree?

December
17

Besides his M-16 rifle, the other indispensable item that American soldiers carried in Vietnam was the small P-38 can opener needed to open the C-rations, the meals they ate in the field. Like other soldiers, my father wore his P-38 on the chain of his dog tags, which hung around his neck, so he wouldn’t lose it. He treasured his trusty little P-38, but he lost it sometime after returning to the States, once he didn’t have to wear dog tags or worry about C-rations anymore!

While we were Christmas shopping at the West Point PX last week, my father found the gift he didn’t know he wanted: another P-38 can opener, right there in the sporting goods aisle.

“It’s like finding a long lost friend!” he exclaimed, while I looked at him like he was, um, crazy.

He took it home and made a nice display of the can opener, his dog tags, and his old 25th Infantry Division hat. On an Army blanket, of course! Hey, it’s green – and we’ve got that Red Cross 1967 gift bag as the red…

canopener.jpg

C-rations were phased out in favor of MREs (meals, ready-to-eat) almost 20 years ago, so the troops in Aghanistan and Iraq probably don’t carry can openers. “Now the P-38 belongs to the ages,” my father said.

This entry was posted on Monday, December 17th, 2007 at 5:00 am by Nicole Neroulias. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
Category: Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam veterans, Vietnam veterans

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One Response to “Three letters from home, two dog tags, and a P-38 can opener under the tree?”

  1. Jimmy

    Ah, the P-38 doesn’t belong to the ages! It’s here to stay. I live in Saigon and have one. They sell them at the corner store near my house. They’re not the GI ones, of course. These are mass produced somewhere in the region, I suppose. They copy EVERYTHING here as I’m sure you already know. You can even get fake genuine Zippo lighters from the war years. :)

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About this blog
"Return to Vietnam" chronicles the journey of Col. Andonios Neroulias USA (Ret.) of Briarcliff Manor, NY, joined by his daughter, staff writer Nicole Neroulias, to the country he fought in 40 years ago. They are traveling with Vietnam veterans and Rotarians from Rockland County and other parts of the country. Check this blog for daily posts, photos, recordings and slideshows about their experiences.
About the authors
Nicole and Andonios Neroulias

Nicole Neroulias grew up in Briarcliff Manor, NY, and graduated from Cornell University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has covered religion and city news in Cyprus, Connecticut and California, where she earned several fellowships and prizes, including a national Religion Newswriters Association award. She joined The Journal News in early 2007 and also teaches journalism at Columbia.

Col. Andonios Neroulias emigrated from Greece in 1956 and was commissioned an officer through the ROTC program of the City College of NY. From 1967-68, he served in Vietnam with the U.S. Army's 25th Infantry (Tropic Lightning) Division, whose main base was in Cu Chi, known for its intricate Viet Cong tunnels. Among his military awards are the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge. He is retired from the U.S. Army Reserve and lives in Briarcliff Manor, NY.
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