Ceradyne Corp. in Costa Mesa makes the plates and this guy was known to the vp of the company. So they gave him a trade-in.
I'm just glad he had it. Without these plates, who knows how many more deaths we may have suffered? Thank goodness our armor protection has progressed to the level it has today. Looking back on Vietnam era soldiers, they look so naked in comparison.
Requires registration..... could you quote ??
The vietnam vets............... Think of the World War 1 and II vets. Man with all the artillery they had going off around them................. wow
Good for him
Armor maker gets special thanks
A Lake Forest soldier visits company that made the plate that saved him.
By TOM BERG
The Orange County Register
COSTA MESA – Some burnt chest hair.
That's all Army Cpl. Patrick Wissinger suffered after taking an AK-47 bullet square in the chest last month in Iraq.
What saved his life was a 5-pound ceramic plate, called a trauma plate, made in Costa Mesa. The force of the shot threw Wissinger, 22, of Lake Forest, back against the Humvee turret, where he was manning a .30-caliber machine gun. But he didn't suffer any internal bleeding, not even a raspberry bruise on his chest.
That afternoon he told a field doctor, "Dude, I'm fine."
On Tuesday, he wanted to tell folks on the homefront, "Dude, I'm thankful."
"I wanted to meet the people who make the stuff that saved my behind," Wissinger told Ceradyne President Joel Moskowitz and Vice President Dave Reed, who invited him for a tour that included a gift of two new, even more protective, trauma plates.
Reed is used to getting thank-you letters from servicemen who credit his lightweight body armor with saving their lives. But he was surprised to hear from someone who once played on his son's youth soccer team.
"To hear from a guy I've known all these years," Reed said, "it really personalizes it. I forwarded the e-mail to people around here and it gave everyone in the company a tingle."
Ceradyne, which was founded in 1967, supplies trauma plates for 80,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also supplies ceramic armor for military helicopters, Humvees and automobiles.
Wissinger picked up an old trauma plate - one used for live-fire testing - from a table and pointed to one of several pockmarks.
"Mine had just one, right about here," he said, poking a finger in a shallow pit near the center.
Wissinger never expected to find himself on a dusty street in some village near Baghdad last August. After serving three years in the Army, he joined the Reserve in April 2003, reporting to the 419th Quartermaster Battalion in Irvine. In February, he was ordered to Iraq - not with a unit but with a dozen other individuals to serve as bodyguards for the Iraqi Survey Group, seeking weapons of mass destruction.
He arrived in March. One month later, a comrade died from the blast of an explosion in a nearby building.
"We got shot at a couple times," Wissinger said. "But we were glad we weren't on the front lines."
Because of their mission, he can't say where they were the day he got shot. Just some downtrodden village with lots of men milling about - like a scene in "Blackhawk Down," he said, only with Iraqis instead of Somalis. Wissinger was near the front of a convoy of about 20, right behind two Bradley Fighting Vehicles. As usual, he was standing in the machine-gun turret.
As soon as the Bradleys passed, two men jumped out of two alleys on opposite sides of the street and began spraying the convoy with automatic fire, shots ringing off vehicles.
"I saw this one guy, and he had a machine gun pointing at me," Wissinger said. "Right when he started, I lit him up and took him down."
Wissinger then spun to his left but as he did, he felt an AK-47 slug drive him backward against the turret.
"I heard a crack and it felt like I got punched in the back," he said. "ButI guess it's better to have a pulled back than a hole in your chest."
He suspects he was hit by a ricochet because he didn't feel what others describe as a "baseball bat to the chest," nor other injuries such as internal bleeding. In fact, he resumed his position and shot the second gunman.
By the time his convoy was ready to return to base, Wissinger was back in the turret with a new trauma plate protecting his chest. That night, he called his mom.
"You might be getting a call from the Army," he told her.
"Why?" she asked.
'I kinda got shot today," he said.
But it wasn't until he arrived home Sept. 7 for two weeks of leave that he realized how lucky he'd been. His fiancée greeted him at the airport.
"She stopped the car, ran out, and we threw our arms around each other," he said. "She said, 'I'm so glad you're here.' I said, 'Me too.'"
And suddenly it hit him. In - of all places - the heart.
"Damn," he said. "I came that close."
Now he's trying not to dwell on it. Wissinger returns to Iraq for six more months of duty tomorrow.
+1 for ceramic armor.