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Soldier gets back the armor that saved his life

Sep. 19, 2013 - 05:21PM   |  
Sgt. Joseph Morrissey holds the armor plate that saved his life.
Sgt. Joseph Morrissey holds the armor plate that saved his life. (PEO Soldier)
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A Fort Bragg, N.C., soldier whose body armor stopped a bullet, and his wife gave a rare “thank you” to the Army team behind the life-saving plate.

“I feel like I have a great life for me now and things just seem to get better every day, and none of that would have been possible if it hadn’t been for that piece of armor,” said Sgt. Joseph Morrissey, of the 4th Squardron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

The 26-year-old, twice-deployed cavalry scout and his wife visited PEO Soldier at Fort Belvoir, Va., on Wednesday. There he was debriefed, toured the facilities and was ceremoniously presented with the armor plate as a memento.

Morrissey, who has since gotten married and is an expectant father, said he plans to find a prominent place in his home for the armor plate with the ragged bottle-cap-sized hole.

“If you’re having a bad day, that puts it in perspective for you,” said his wife, Nikki.

Aug. 9, 2012 is the day Morrissey will never forget. He had just shooed some Afghans away from some concertina wire in a field near his outpost in Kandahar when he was shot in the stomach.

“I was hit in the chest plate and I knew that I was hit,” he said. “It felt like a real quick jab or a sucker punch to the stomach.”

One 7.62 mm round in a five-round burst hit Morrissey from 30 meters away.

Morrissey kept his balance, sought cover behind a tractor and exchanged fire with the shooter before he was able to return to his vehicle.

In the heat of the moment, Morrissey’s comrades called for a medical team to meet them back at their base.

But when they exited their vehicle inside the wire and ripped his top off to look him over, everyone realized he was fine.

In fact, the damaged armor insert was replaced that day and he was sent back out on his route surveillance mission.

When Morrissey was shot, he said he had no idea how his equipment was manufactured, purchased and fielded.

“When you’re working, the rumor is everything in the Army is lowest-bidder equipment,” he said. “Once I got up here, I got to see that’s not the situation at all. There’s a process, a lot of research and development that goes into finding the right equipment and getting it to the soldier.”

The team at PEO Soldier was grateful for his thanks.

“When we see a soldier standing there and he is still alive, it really helps to say, ‘You know what, we’ve done a good job, the late nights are worth it’,” said Capt. Brice Cooper, of PEO Soldier, told WJLA TV news.

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