5 years ago
Michael Yon has another great report of heroism, fallen comrades and Soldiers saved by SAPI plates, entitled Men at War: Come Home With Your Shield, Or On It. Visit Michael’s web site and hit the tip jar if you can. It’s usually bad form to consume band width to splash a photograph on one’s own web site by using feed from another web site. But I asked and Michael graciously granted me permission to use this one photograph below.
Michael gives us the following caption: Another Soldier had been on the roof when Brice was hit, and this Soldier was shot in the ribs. The bullet was stopped by his SAPI plate. He said it felt like he had been stabbed. Other Soldiers said that the troop who had been shot in the ribs collected his wits and stayed in the fight.
Michael has worn body armor for a very long time, and certainly there are many hundreds of thousands of Soldiers and Marines who have worn it in combat long enough to comment with authority on it. I don’t want to steal their thunder here with my comments. But I will make them anyway.
I have worn the Marine MTV (Modular Tactical Vest) only for a short period of time, but I have worn it. It’s tight, obtrusive, hot, heavy (with its SAPI plates), and constrictive (it hugs the torso in order to place its weight on the hips, rather like an internal frame backpack). It’s hard to move, and must be even harder to fight in combat. I recently humped a 65+ pound backpack on Mount Mitchell, up and down terrain changes, and I would rather do that than hump that body armor. It’s more than just the weight. It’s hard to breath when it’s on.
That said, I confess that I felt some degree of relief when I knew that the Battalion Commander in Fallujah in 2007 (FOB Reaper) ordered all Marines to wear all PPEs when outside the wire. At that time the Marine Corps Commandant had given Battalion Commanders the discretion to wear or jettison PPEs as they saw fit, and depending upon the circumstances. The Battalion Commander didn’t leave it to the discretion of the Marines under his charge.
My own son was saved from a piece of mortar shrapnel by his front SAPI plate, and Michael posts an example of yet another Soldier who was saved by his SAPI plate – his side SAPI plate, no less. There are many more such examples. I know that it is totally obnoxious to wear the stuff, especially up and down hills in Afghanistan, and especially on hot days. But I’m just saying … another Soldier saved.
The U.S. should do all it can to give our warriors the best armor, including lighter polymer (the existing SAPI plates are ceramic surrounding a metal plate). That prospect seems at risk now that the Pentagon is set to face severe budget cuts.
Visit Michael Yon’s web page.
Prior: Body Armor Category