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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Medal of Honor Recipients at
Zippo/Case Museum on Veterans Day

Two Medal of Honor recipients – a man whose life was saved by a Zippo lighter, and the man known as the “real” Forrest Gump – will be honored at the Zippo/Case Museum on Veterans Day.

The two American heroes will install special Medal of Honor commemorative lighter and knife sets at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at the museum.

Harold Fritz was leading a column of heavily armored vehicles through Quan Loi in 1969 when they were ambushed by North Vietnamese fighters. Thrown from his vehicle, Fritz led a point-blank charge on the enemy and was hit several times by shrapnel and small-arm rounds. One particular blow on the left side of his chest knocked him down.

He was evacuated by helicopter, but when he returned to the battlefield later that day, he found a Zippo lighter that had been given to him as a going away present by his wife. It had been in his left breast pocket, where it stopped the bullet that would otherwise have killed him.

Fritz received his Medal of Honor from President Nixon in 1971.

Sammy Davis is sometimes known as the “real” Forrest Gump, because Davis’ heroic acts and subsequent Medal of Honor citation were the basis for Gump’s Vietnam story and actual video footage of Davis’ Medal of Honor ceremony was used in the movie, with Tom Hanks’ head superimposed over that of Davis.

While fighting in an area west of Cai Lay, Davis’ unit came under heavy attack from an estimated 1,500 Vietcong soldiers. Heavily outnumbered and after being knocked into a foxhole by enemy fire, Davis managed to hold off the enemy long enough to tend to three wounded American GIs on the other side of the river. Davis couldn’t swim, but he got in the water and paddled across on an air mattress from the American camp; other GIs followed him. He gave all the wounded soldiers morphine and provided cover fire, before eventually returning to the fight, where he was wounded by friendly fire. Davis carried his Case pocket knife through his entire tour of duty.

Davis received his Medal of Honor from President Johnson in 1968.

In September, Zippo and Case Cutlery, two of America’s great heritage manufacturing brands, created special Medal of Honor commemorative lighter and knife sets which were presented to Medal of Honor recipients at the Medal of Honor Convention in Knoxville, Tenn.

Joining Davis and Fritz for the installation will be Greg Booth, CEO of Zippo/Case Cutlery.

Immediately following the dedication at the Zippo/Case Museum, they are holding a meet and greet with the Medal of Honor recipients, who will also be signing autographs. The museum will be open until 6 p.m. that evening to accommodate all who would like to come meet these two American heroes.

Zippo employees and the Medal of Honor guests will also be attending the Veterans Square event at 11 a.m. that day.

Photos and information provided by Zippo.

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