WWII vet spends $33K on bulletproof glass to protect recruiters post-Chattanooga
By Matthew L. Schehl
One of the world's oldest Marines is still faithfully looking out for his fellow devil dogs.
World War II veteran Roy Drinkard, a ge 95-year-old World War II veteran, paid to install bulletproof glass at the Cullman, Alabama, military recruiting center in the wake of the last July’s attack on a recruiting station in Chattanooga, Tennessee, shootings which that targeted military personnel.
Drinkard, president and chief executive officer of Drinkard Development, Inc. and owner of the building, said he made the decision to install the bulletproof glass the day of the same day as the shootings to help protect the troops service members who work there use it.
"I had a tough time finding someone," Drinkard told Marine Corps Times. "But now there’s a new door, new glass, the whole thing: everything that was glass is now level four bulletproof."
The level four bulletproof glass installation cost $33,000, Drinkard said. The installation of of the 3-three inch thick polycarbonate glass, which can withstand the impact 7.62 millimeter rounds, was completed on ThursdaySept 24 at a cost of $33,000, Drinkard said.
The recruiting office is in a strip mall about 50 miles north of Birmingham, Alabama.
Roy Drinkard, 95, served in the Marine Corps from June 1943 to October 1945, separating as a private first class, He said he hopes other American landlords will follow suit and install bulletproof glass on recruiting centers they own.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Roy Drinkard
The Marine vet said he hopes it prevents another tragedy like that which occurred in On July 16, when gunman Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez opened fire on an Chattanooga, Tennessee armed forces recruiting center, wounding one Marine, before assaulting a Navy reserve installation across town, where he killed killing four Marines and a sailor.
"[The shootings] should not have happened there — certainly not on our watch," Drinkard told local Fox 6 affiliate WBRC. "And we said, ‘What can we do?’ So that’s when we learned about level four glass and made this decision."
Drinkard, a private first class in the Corps from June 1943 to October 1945, said he hopes other American landlords will follow suit. He said he also hopes wishes the U.S. government will do the same, but doubts is doubtful it can get do enough to protect service members.
"It takes the government two and a half years just to put a proposal together," Drinkard said.
Lt. Gen. Mark Brilakis, commanding general of Marine Corps Recruiting Command, told Marine Corps Times this month that the service is exploring new security measures for its recruiting centers. Potential changes include more security cameras, remote-locking doors, security reaction training and better ballistic protection, but he ruled out installing bulletproof glass due to costs.
"We looked, and to put ballistic glass in in every one of the recruiting sites that we have — over a thousand — would be almost in excess of $100 million," he said.
The Marines at the Cullman recruiting center are very grateful to Drinkard as well as the continued support of the community, said Staff Sgt. Jon Holmes, marketing and public affairs chief for the Alabama Marines.
In addition to current training and force protection measures, the bulletproof glass will provide safety to them, he said.
"[Regarding Drinkard], I can say 'Once a Marine, always a Marine,' and that we remain Semper Fidelis to our Corps and fellow Marines," Holmes added said. "We and that we remain Semper Fidelis to our Corps and fellow Marines."
Drinkard, a private first class in the Corps from June 1943 to October 1945, said he was honored by the Pentagon as the oldest living Marine.
"Since [this story] hit the news, I found out there's a 97-year-old and a 98-year-old vet, but I don't know if they're Marines," he said.
Staff writer James K. Sanborn contributed to this report.