FORT MONMOUTH, N.J. -- It was invented in just 30 days in the summer of 1942 by Maj. Thomas Dennehy at the Subsistence Research Laboratory in Chicago.
And never in its more than 60-year history has it ever been known to "break, rust, need sharpening or polishing," which is why many Soldiers past and present have come to regard the P-38 C-Ration can opener as one of the best Army inventions ever.
C-Rations (tin cans filled with a variety of meats and vegetables) have been replaced with Meals Ready To Eat (MREs) but the phenomena of the P-38 continues due to the countless other uses that Soldiers found for it.
"The P-38 is one of those tools you keep and never want to get rid of," military policeman Sgt. Scott Kiraly said. "I've had my P-38 since joining the Army and kept it because I can use it as a screwdriver, knife, anything!"
Sgt. Maj. (Ret.) Steve Wilson believes it's the size of the P-38 that counts.
"It's a perfect inch-and-a-half making it a great marking tool. Because it's small, it doesn't take up a lot of space and that's essential in Army life. The conveniently drilled hole in the top half means the P-38 can be put on a key ring or dog tags and go anywhere," he said.