NEAR KARMAH, Iraq -- Over the past decade there have been significant advancements in body armor. During that time there have also been heated debates concerning the performance and effectiveness of the body armor being used by Marines.
One Marine with Battalion Landing Team 3/1 got to see first-hand just how effective his issued body armor is.
“We were out doing a vehicle mounted patrol and we dismounted, that’s when I heard the first shot,” said Sgt. Travis Tollison, India Company, 3rd platoon guide. “I tried to find out where the original shot came from and I heard a second shot. I went into the prone position when I realized that I had been hit. I reached to my lower back and was beginning to feel pain. The round had gone through my Camelbak and I felt the water which, at the time, I thought it was blood. When the corpsman looked me over I only had a bruise on the left side of my lower back. The round had embedded into my back SAPI (Small-Arms Protective Insert) plate. I believe without the plate, I would be telling a whole different story.”
The Marines in his platoon don’t hesitate to give Tollison a hard time about the incident. It usually consists of an impression of how he looked when he realized that he had been hit. The guys get a good laugh from the incident, but they know just how fortunate Tollison is that his gear did what it was supposed to.
With all the controversy surrounding civilian companies claiming to have more effective gear for combat, Marines and their family members have considered the use of civilian body armor over government issued. Recently Headquarters Marine Corps made the decision to prohibit the use of civilian body armor in combat. Marines on the front lines understand the functionality of the body armor and have confidence in the protection it provides.
“There are always going to be things to complain about when it comes to body armor, especially with the addition of the side SAPI plates,” said Tollison, an Anderson, S.C. native. “Though the weight isn’t exactly pleasant, the payoff is protection that is combat tried and tested.”
One thing about combat body armor is that technology is constantly advancing. The Marine Corps continually researches and develops new and more effective ways to keep the men and women who serve in combat safer. For now, the body armor being used today is holding its own, protecting Marines.
For more information about the 13th MEU, visit www.usmc.mil/13thmeu.