To mark Veterans' Day in the U.S., I wanted to tell you a little bit about Coke and the troops during World War II.

In 1941, longtime Coca-Cola leader Robert Woodruff said that any person in uniform should get a bottle of Coke for 5 cents, wherever he is and whatever it costs the Company.

Coke_jungle_dispenserDuring WWII, a special group of Coca-Cola employees called Technical Observers were asked to fulfill Woodruff's promise. The "TOs" supervised the shipment and operation of 64 complete bottling plants that distributed over 5 billion bottles of Coca-Cola to servicemen and women.

One hundred forty-eight men served as TOs, compete with Army officer's rank, pay and uniforms that had a unique identification patch. Two TOs were killed in the line of duty.

Providing Coke to troops in remote areas of the South Pacific posed one of the most difficult problems to the TOs. The Brisbane, Australia, bottler offered one solution to the problem when he re-commssioned a portable soda fountain that had been used at drugstore conventions and had it flown into the hills to quench the thirsts of B-26 pilots. It was so successful that the Army requested a hundred more immediately.

Technicians from the Coca-Cola Export Corporation, working with the Liquid Carbonic and Hussman-Ligonier Companies, quickly developed a portable dispensing unit know as a "jungle fountain." Combining a standard Junior Dole Dispenser with an ice-making machine, the unit could be easily transported by truck to any location.

Nearly 1,100 of these units were used in the Pacific. Tragedy struck an early shipment of 150 "jungle fountains" when the transport ship carrying them was torpedoed, but replacements soon reached the troops.

This magazine ad shows a drawing of a jungle dispenser -- painted green for camouflage, of course!