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Gene W. Goble and Associates - Firestarter, Butane lighters


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Here are some photos of the two types of Gene W. Goble and Associates of Escondido, CA (GWGA), butane survival lighters with plastic pull-off tops that Frass Surgical Manufacturing Company of New York, NY included in the US Army: Survival Kit, Individual, Hot - Wet Environment. The Federal Stock Number or FSN for this Survival Kit that was issued to Green Berets serving in SOG during the Vietnam War was: 6545 - 782 - 2821. (A discussion of FSN vs NSN can be found here: http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/185344-sru-and-ov-1-butane-lighters/ )

 

The top photo shows both GWGA sportsman lighters that were issued in the Frass Hot - Wet kits. The lighter on the right is the first type that was included in the 67 issue kits that had the components listed on the plastic box tops. The lighter on the left is the second type that was used by Frass in the later issue Hot - Wet kits that have plain box tops - and the contents are listed on pieces of paper in plastic bags - similar to the Hot Wet Manual that was always included in the Operational kit.

 

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The only difference between the two lighters that I have been able to determine is the plastic tops are different. The one on the right is the Hot Wet kit lighter that GWGA shows in their Patent drawing and Brunninger shows in his book and is the earliest pattern GWGA lighter sold in 1960s. They both have the "lever arm" for refiling and lighting. They both have clear plastic labels and none of the Hot-Wet Environment Survival kit lighters ever had the US Air Force FSN for the SRU-2/P Firestarter, Butane. Later versions of the GWGA lighter did have the Firestarter, Butane FSN. See the topic URL above for a photo of this later GWGA lighter which has a paper label and the Firestarter, Butane FSN.

 

 

The following photo is a side view of the later GWGA lighter showing the second pattern plastic cap.

 

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Contrary to popular belief (by some Vietnam Vets) the GWGA lighter was never issued in US Air Force Survival Kits or the Army "Vest Kit Survival" (SRU-21/P). I explain this in my book "Fire Starter, Butane: OV-1 and SRU-21/P" - Army Helicopter pilots serving in Vietnam had to scrounge and trade for survival kit items in the early 60s because the Army was way behind the Navy and Air Force in terms of Aviation Personnel Survival kits and equipment. Reference Lawrence H. Johnson III book: "Winged Sabers: The Air Cavalry in Vietnam 1965-1973" in which Johnson has a photo of an Air Force SRU-21/P vest he acquired and on it is the GWGA first pattern butane lighter he also acquired. Note: neither of these survival items (vest or lighter) were issued to Army Aviation personnel in 1965.

 

Also note: the GWGA lighters may have been available in the PX - because they were marketed before the war, by GWGA, as butane lighters for sportsman.

 

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Army ALSE was certainly mixed bag in the 60s. Even my father who flew UH-1s and OH-6As in 1969-1970 had no survival gear he recalls other than carrying his RT-10 radio and pen flare kit with his chicken plate and a pilot survival knife. If you want to include small arms he went from a M16A1 and M1911A1 to trading in the .45 for a Smith M10 .38 and then trading the M16 back in as well and only ending up with the .38. Ive seen some pics of guys in his second unit and 1 pilot did scrounge up a 21P vest somewhere, probably the USAF FAC guys at Phu Bai who had O-2As and OV-10As. They traded helo rides for FAC rides regularly, I'm sure gear came up too. Was also interesting to see the pilot who had the 21P vest also had a FRP-1 one piece nomex flight suit from the USN/USMC in 1968.

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