I served in Vietnam from 12/1966 to 7/1967. The reason for only 8 months was due to the fact of being wounded in action. The next 8 months was spent in the hospital and after 13 operations later, I recovered. Now, I know this portion of the story has nothing to do with cigars, but just thought I'd give a little background on myself. The reason I even mentioned Vietnam, this is where my love of cigars first started. We know our troops in Iraq sure love it when we send them great smokes. It didn't start there. Hell, we soldiers have been puffing on these since World War I. In my case, it all started on a three day rest in a place called Vung Tau. A buddy of mine gave me one. I can't recall the brand, but it sure was smooth. It seemed to calm me down. I felt important rolling it between my fingers. I was a grunt. There were very few times we actually felt important in that hell hole. After lighting up, I watched the smoke rise. It was nice that this smoke didn't claim any lives.
We returned to our unit after this brief rest, and it was back to the war. It's funny how your first or second Cigar either has you hooked or not. For me it was the beginning of a love affair. The night we were wounded was like a Fourth of July gone bad. Lying on the ground, my thoughts drifted back to the few first cigars I had. It's funny what things go through your mind at a time like that. All I know is how calm I felt watching the smoke rise. It kept my mind off of the pain I was in. It didn't take all the pain away, just seemed to ease it some. I have always remembered the power of the smoke of a good stick. I have had a great Humi for years with many of the top brands. We send some to the boys in Iraq. It's great to see them enjoying them as much as I did. The smile on those young faces says it all. So what if they get hooked like the rest of us. I hope they have the same intoxicating spell they had on me.
Having a great Cigar in time of war makes it seem a little more bearable. If it calms their spirit or lessens the reality of war, even to a small degree, then it was worth lighting up. Lighting up a good stick makes you feel human again. All seems right with the world, if only for a short while. From the Generals down to the buck Privates, no one has a monopoly of a great smoke. The cigar world has been enriched by the total number of us old soldiers who smoke, and even more by the fact we are passing the tradition down to the young troops. With 24 million living veterans in the world today, just think how many started while in the military. It's big business. The young ones will some day take our place. Keep hand rolling them, and we will continue to enjoy the richness of this ever present luxury.
This may not be that creative or impact the Cigar world, however, the number of troops who light up may be staggering, and that my friend, is good for the cigar industry.