Monday, November 11, 2013

Green Beer

Olive Drab, actually.

Here's something you might not know, and just in time for Veterans Day.

During the Second World War, the U.S. Army contracted with 40 breweries across the country to produce olive drab cans to be sent to American troops fighting in Europe, the Pacific and the CBI. Steel rationing halted beer can production in 1942, but was re-instituted for these 40 breweries two years later in 1944. Regional breweries, like Beverwyck in Albany, produced the OD cans (in flat, cone and crown tops) which were then sent to areas where men from those specific areas were fighting. In the case of Albnay's Beverwyck Brewery, this cans were most likely sent to Hawaii and the Central Pacific. 

Courtesy of
New York's 27th Infantry Division—a National Guard division comprised of men from all over New York, but with a high percentage from the areas around Albany—had been in the Pacific Theater, on Oahu, Hawaii, since 1942. The unit first saw combat at Makin, Eniwetok and Majuro Atolls, in the Gilbert Islands in late 1943 and early 1944. In June of that same year, the 27th would assault the island of Saipan, in a three month routing of Japanese forces in what was one of the bloodiest battles of the war. Colonel William O'Brien and Sergeant Thomas Baker, both of Troy New York, as well as Captain Benjamin L. Salomon were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, for their actions on July 7th, 1944. This is the only time the Medal of Honor has been given to three men, for separate actions, on the same day, in the same battle. The 27th would continue its campaign in the Pacific, landing and fighting on Okinawa, then acting as part of the Allied Army of Occupation, briefly being garrisoned in Japan, after that country's surrender. The 27th Division holds the distinction as the longest, continuously deployed National Guard unit ever—from December  1941 to December 1945.

Like the 27th Division, the OD cans also saw post war service, being produced until mid-1947. Of the 40 U.S. Army-contacted breweries, eight were from New York state. Including Albany's Beverwyck, the other seven breweries were Fitzgerald's (Troy), Rhinegold and Rupert (Manhattan), Schaefer (Brooklyn), Genesee (Rochester), Iroquois (Buffalo) and West End Brewery (Utica).

So, to all the veterans out there today, I raise a OD can to you!

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