Cigars and War Veterans

by Juan Panesso
Cigars and War Veterans


Cigars have a special place in the hearts of military heroes from different parts of the world and eras. The joy of smoking a cigar has brought a sense of togetherness, tradition, and relief to soldiers facing the challenges of military life. Let's take a journey through history to discover how cigars and war veterans have shared a unique connection, shaping the way we think about camaraderie, patriotism, and the armed forces.

A Strong Tradition

Cigars have been a constant companion to military leaders, adding a touch of warmth and relaxation to their intense lives. Imagine iconic figures like Winston Churchill, Ulysses S. Grant, Fidel Castro, and Richard Overton taking a moment to enjoy a good cigar amidst their duties.

Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill, an indomitable leader during World War II, had been a cigar smoker much before he became Prime Minister. During the Cuban War of Independence, a young Churchill is said to have found comfort in the pleasures of Cuban cigars and the local culture.

If one has to recollect Churchill's image, it is mostly with a cigar in hand. He is said to have smoked around 200,000 cigars in his lifetime – about 8 a day! As an honor for his love for cigars, a type of cigar, the Churchill vitola, was even named after him.

Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States, also remembered for his role in the Civil War, and was fond of cigars. He reportedly smoked up to 20 cigars a day, a habit that grew as the war intensified. He even smoked cigars during battles!

Grant's love for cigars extended beyond warfare. Apparently, he would walk from the White House to the Willard Hotel to relax and smoke a couple of cigars. This helped him connect with people seeking his audience and earned them the nickname, "lobbyists."

Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro, the fiery leader of the Cuban Revolution and President of Cuba, can be said to have brought cigars to the forefront of military culture. The Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces played a significant role in nationalizing industries, including the cigar sector. New brands like Cohiba were born under Castro's leadership.

Richard Overton

Richard Overton, a US World War II veteran, left an indelible mark on history. Serving in the all-black 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion, Overton fought in battles such as the iconic battle of Iwo Jima. He began smoking cigars in 1924 at the age of 18 and continued the habit, even enjoying 12 cigars a day when he was over 100 years old!

General Tommy Franks

An army veteran, General Tommy Franks commanded operations across 25 countries and has a deep-rooted love for cigars. Inspired by his uncle's classy cigar enjoyment during his youth, Franks keeps over 20 humidors at home. He recounted a notable moment in Baghdad, where Central Command leaders gathered and shared premium cigars, marking a unique camaraderie-filled occasion amidst complex political circumstances. 

Camaraderie and Unity

Cigars brought soldiers together, creating bonds and memories that lasted a lifetime. Troops in the trenches during World War I and on the battlefields of World War II found comfort in sharing cigars and stories.

General George S. Patton, a master strategist, often enjoyed a Cuban cigar or pipe. His strong personality was softened by the familiarity of a good smoke. Stories even tell of Patton's soldiers carrying a humidor full of cigars during their missions.

In more recent times, groups like Operation Deployed, Cigars for Warriors, and the Tali-Banned Cigar Aficionado Club have made it their mission to bring a touch of home to soldiers stationed far away. By sending cigars and luxury items, they offer a moment of relaxation and a chance to bond, even in challenging environments.

Honoring Our Veterans

Several cigar brands pay homage to military heritage. Cigars like Ashton VSG, La Aroma de Cuba Pasión, Perdomo 20th Anniversary Maduro, Southern Draw Jacob's Ladder, and CAO America have become a way to honor veterans and active-duty personnel.

Ashton VSG, with its rich and balanced blend, serves as a reminder of the unity shared among servicemen and servicewomen. La Aroma de Cuba Pasión pays tribute to the historical ties between cigars and military deployment, transporting smokers back to the era of Winston Churchill's Cuban adventures.

Perdomo 20th Anniversary Maduro stands witness to the resilience of veterans like Nick Perdomo, who pursued their dreams with tireless determination. Southern Draw Jacob's Ladder, crafted by veterans, boasts of flavors reminiscent of the camaraderie found within military circles.

Meanwhile, CAO America proudly displays its patriotic colors and unique barber pole wrapper that symbolize the diverse backgrounds and shared values of those who serve. 

To honor the soldiers, there are cigar clubs and organizations that provide a space for veterans to connect, share experiences, and enjoy each other's company. The "Tali-Banned Cigar Aficionado Club," established by troops in Afghanistan, demonstrates how cigars can create camaraderie, even in tough situations.

Keeping the Legacy Alive

The tradition of cigars among veterans continues to thrive. Inspired by stories of cigar enthusiasts like Churchill, Grant and Castro, the new generations of military personnel are also embracing this ritual. Cigars and war veterans remind us that amidst the challenges of military life, shared interests can provide strength, camaraderie, and reflection. In the end, cigars become a symbol of friendship and a way to pay tribute to the brave men and women who have dedicated their lives to protecting our nations.