From the collection of the National Park Service, National Mall and Memorial Parks.
opener, P-38 can
Military issue, P-38 can opener, also referred to as a, "John Wayne". Invented by Major (MAJ) Thomas Dennehy and originally developed for military use in 1942, the P-38 was issued in the canned field rations of the United States Armed Forces from World War II until the 1980s, and is rumored to have received its moniker from the number of punctures ('P') required to open a can of field rations with the device (38), as well as its speed of use as compared to the World War II-era Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighter plane. Although the device was originally designed and distributed in the K-ration, it was later included in the C-ration and saw extensive use amongst American service personnel in Vietnam. The artifact was left at The Wall affixed to a metal ball chain along with two (2) associated military issue, U.S. Army service identification tags (VIVE (5891 & 5892)) by U.S. Army veteran Terry Q. Burnson between October - November 1987. (Source: U.S. Army- https://www.army.mil/article/25736/the-best-army-invention-ever)
MILITARY ISSUE, P-38 CAN OPENER, ALSO REFERRED TO AS A, "JOHN WAYNE". THE OBJECT CONSISTS OF A SHORT LENGTH OF ROLLED STEEL WHICH SERVES AS A HANDLE, WITH A SMALL, HINGED METAL TOOTH THAT FOLDS OUT TO PIERCE THE CAN LID. A NOTCH LOCATED UNDER THE HINGE OF THE DEVICE ENABLES THE CAN OPENER TO MAINTAIN CONTACT WITH THE RIM OF THE CAN AS THE DEVICE IS MOVED AROUND THE LID TO CUT AND REMOVE IT. THE OBJECT BEARS THE MANUFACTURER/SUPPLIER'S INFORMATION, "U.S. / KAY 1962" STAMPED IN RECESSED, BLOCK SCRIPT/ARABIC NUMERALS UPON THE OBJECT UNDER-SURFACE. THE OBJECT IS PRESENTLY AFFIXED TO A METAL BALL CHAIN STRUNG THROUGH A CIRCULARLY SHAPED PERFORATION AT THE PROPER LEFT-HAND SIDE OF THE OBJECT UNDER-SURFACE, ALONG WITH TWO (2) ASSOCIATED MILITARY ISSUE, U.S. ARMY SERVICE IDENTIFICATION TAGS (VIVE (5891 & 5892)). INVENTED BY MAJOR (MAJ) THOMAS DENNEHY AND ORIGINALLY DEVELOPED FOR MILITARY USE IN 1942, THE P-38 WAS ISSUED IN THE CANNED FIELD RATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES FROM WORLD WAR II UNTIL THE 1980S, AND IS RUMORED TO HAVE RECEIVED ITS MONIKER FROM THE NUMBER OF PUNCTURES ('P') REQUIRED TO OPEN A CAN OF FIELD RATIONS WITH THE DEVICE (38), AS WELL AS ITS SPEED OF USE AS COMPARED TO THE WORLD WAR II-ERA LOCKHEED P-38 LIGHTNING FIGHTER PLANE. ALTHOUGH THE DEVICE WAS ORIGINALLY DESIGNED AND DISTRIBUTED IN THE K-RATION, IT WAS LATER INCLUDED IN THE C-RATION AND SAW EXTENSIVE USE AMONGST AMERICAN SERVICE PERSONNEL IN VIETNAM. (SOURCE: U.S. ARMY- HTTPS://WWW.ARMY.MIL/ARTICLE/25736/THE-BEST-ARMY-INVENTION-EVER) THE OBJECT IS ASSOCIATED WITH VIVE (5891 & 5892).
Text of the stamped inscription upon the object under-surface is transcribed in full, as follows: "U.S. / KAY 1962"
Item Weight: 23.4g (Collective weight of VIVE (5891, 5892, & 6000) and ball chains)
Item Length: 1.6cm
Item Width: 3.8cm