First, let me get the necessary caveats out of the way. I know the author of the article I’m about to link, and she works for PEO Soldier, the group that selected Interceptor over Dragon Skin and has been defending itself from NBC’s scurrilous reporting on the body armor issue. That doesn’t make her dishonest or anything like that. In fact, in my dealings with Debi Dawson, she has been terrific. The Army could use more public affairs professionals like her.
The story she’s reporting, on the subject of Interceptor saving the lives of soldiers in harm’s way, is nothing but true. In fact, I had lined up a video testimonial on my own to be taped by an officer in Iraq whose life was saved by Interceptor, but he had a personal tragedy back home in the states and was unable to tape our segment. That testimonial would have gone into our report on NBC’s emotional terrorism, which we released on July 3. Here’s what that officer said to me in email on May 29.
I will be a spokesman for Interceptor. Because I know firsthand that it will stop a 7.62 AP round and it saved my life. Let me know where we need to send the video clip.
He was more than ready to step up and defend the Army’s choice of body armor, with no prodding from anyone in public affairs.
I’m pointing all of this out so that no one will think that I’m either being bamboozled on this story, or that I’m doing any bamboozling of my own. I’m aware that this is a press release. I’m also aware, based on my own contact with troops in Iraq, that it’s true.
Spc. Gregory T. Miller, 101st Airborne Division, told Congress at a hearing last month that this body armor saved his life while he was on patrol in Kirkuk in preparation for Iraqi elections in December 2005. He was hit in the back by a sniper with what was supposed to be an armor-piercing round. Spc. Miller, who wound up with a bruised back, said he didn’t even realize he’d been hit at first.
It all seemed to happen in slow motion, he said. The water bottle he was holding flew out of his hand; he thought his team leader had hit him on the back – hard. When he realized he’d been hit, he checked himself and then turned to return fire.
When the round was pulled from his armor back plate, ballistics tests identified it as a 7.62 armor-piercing round. “I trust my gear,” he told the congressional panel. When asked why, he replied matter-of-factly: “It saved my life.”
Staff Sgt. Jeremie Oliver of Fort Hood, Texas, has been in Iraq since October 2006, wearing his body armor every single day. “It works very well,” he has reported. The husband and father of four children was shot on Father’s Day this year.
“We were on patrol securing a site … a shot rang out and I got hit in the chest. I was in a Bradley, standing up in the hatch, plotting a grid on my GPS. At first I didn’t know what had really happened, but then I felt the pain. I sat down, realized what happened, and opened my vest. The bullet had not penetrated the vest, so we continued the mission and went after the enemy.”
Sgt. 1st Class Jody Penrod described his combat experience with IBA: “I took a couple of IEDs and some shrapnel, and I had a fire bomb and it didn’t light on fire. So I was pretty pleased.”
Because the IBA vest protected his entire chest area, Sgt. 1st Class Penrod didn’t have so much as a scratch from the shrapnel in the blast. He recounted how insurgents had made Napalm-type bombs with soap so that it would stick to Soldiers while on fire. “I got some on my vest, but it just went right out. So I was kind of happy that the vest didn’t go up in flames.”
Spc. Jason C. Ashline, an infantryman with Fort Drum, N.Y.’s 10th Mountain Division, survived a round from an AK-47 in Afghanistan in 2002 thanks to his body armor. He stated at the recent dedication of MIT’s Institute for Nanotechnologies: “If it weren’t for technology I wouldn’t be standing here today.”
Spc. Ashline was hit twice in the chest during a 12-hour firefight with al-Qaeda insurgents in 2002. The slugs lodged in his body armor. He was stunned but unhurt, and was pulled to safety by his buddies.
Documenting personal accounts of positive body armor experiences is difficult because the Army doesn’t keep count of Soldiers not killed or injured. Still, there are more stories like these and Army leaders at all levels recount apocryphal tales by the dozens.
Capt. David Beard, now stationed at Fort Myer, Va., previously served in Iraq. “I remember a guy in Najaf got shot with an AK right in the chest,” Beard said, “and his IBA plate saved him!”
Capt. Daniel Leard, also at Fort Myer by way of Iraq, called his body armor “a great protective asset.” He said it routinely stop rounds. “In our own unit we had, on several occasions, Soldiers pulling bullets out of their body armor or helmet. It clearly saved their lives.”
I’d like to hear from more troops on this issue, pro or con Interceptor or Dragon Skin. So, if you’re in the military and you’ve been to either Iraq or Afghanistan and have a story to tell that relates to body armor, email me at bryan — at — hotair — dot — com.
Update: Mentioned in comments, here’s Discovery Channel’s test of Dragon Skin on Future Weapons. It’s from Season 2. It’s a fine example how not to conduct a valid body armor test. All of the shots are straight on, and there are no weight comparisons, temperature tests or any other tests designed to determine how the armor will stand up to the real war in the real world. It’s deceptive, and Future Weapons ought to know better than to pass this off as a valid test of Dragon Skin’s usefulness.
Update: And here’s the Mail Call segment on Dragon Skin. Pinnacle CEO Murray Neal appears in both this segment and the one above (though he’s not identified in the Future Weapons segment). The shooter in both segments appears to be either an employee or contractor of Pinnacle. He appears in this Pinnacle-produced segment touting Dragon Skin. That gives the game away imho–these segments are ads for Dragon Skin, not fair and valid field tests.