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Posted: 10/26/2002 6:37:21 PM EDT
Since there was disbelief from some the last time I posted about the efficacy of the US issue Kevlar Helmet, I thought that I would post a little article about a soldier who has been hit TWICE in the K-Pot by hostile rifle fire and survived. This is the fifth save I am aware of, and would not bet my life on it working, but it beats a patrol cap.

Personally, I would not stand too close to this guy, and he should probably change his name to Murphy.


Los Angeles Times
October 2, 2002

Lucky Soldier Keeps Defying Death, On And Off Battlefield

Afghanistan: Sgt. Roderick Morgan is back in the war zone after several wounds. One of his battered helmets is on display.

By David Zucchino, Times Staff Writer

DABGAY, Afghanistan -- The pride of the military collection at the 82nd Airborne museum at Ft. Bragg, N.C., is the battered helmet of Sgt. Roderick Morgan. It bears a nasty dent from when Morgan was shot in the helmet by a Serbian militiaman in July 1999 and somehow survived.

Now the museum is begging Morgan for a second helmet. While serving in Afghanistan in July, Morgan was once again shot in the helmet, this time by an Afghan gunman. Once again, he survived. But this time, he held on to his damaged helmet.

Morgan was wearing the repaired helmet last week, manning a grenade launcher atop an armored Humvee in the high desert of eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistani border. He's back on duty in the war zone, and he's pretty certain his bad luck is all used up.

"I figure I'm good to go. I mean, what are the odds of getting shot in the Kevlar [helmet] three times?" Morgan said, gumming a pinch of snuff while providing cover for an 82nd Airborne Division unit.

Morgan's three-man crew inside the Humvee, young and eager to see action, is sticking close by the sergeant in hopes of drawing enemy fire.

"He's the magnet," said the gunner, Sgt. Neil Burt.

"Yeah," said the medic, Pfc. Kyle Nemas. "You know you'll see action with this guy."

Morgan, 35, a cheerful, tattooed country boy from Georgia, has an impressive track record of survival, both in and out of combat.

In the Yugoslav province of Kosovo, he was shot first through the hand and shoulder. Then a shot to the helmet spun him backward, away from a follow-up shot that just missed his chest. He was knocked unconscious for several hours, which is how his helmet got away from him and ended up at the museum. He later underwent shoulder and hand surgery.

In the southern Afghan city of Kandahar in July, Morgan was shot in the ankle and then the helmet by a gunman firing from a ditch, using children for cover. He underwent surgery to reconnect his Achilles tendon. The impact of the shot to the helmet fractured a bone in his neck, he said, and he still suffers from neck pain and numbness in his hands.

Morgan says his wife, Staff Sgt. Stephanie Morgan, who is based in the U.S., is learning to accept his proclivity for mayhem. When she was informed of the shot to his helmet in Kandahar, he said, her first response was: "Not again."

The dent in Morgan's helmet is still there, a narrow gully beneath the cloth covering he sewed back up. His body is a road map of scars and fractures, each with a story.

In July 1995, while training at Ft. Bragg, Morgan and the rest of his platoon were struck by lightning. "Flat-lined me," Morgan said. "Took a defibrillator to bring me back." A medic worked so furiously to save him, he said, that he fractured three of Morgan's ribs performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

In July 2001, at Ft. Benning, Ga., Morgan said, a tractor-trailer ran a red light and plowed into his Ford Ranger, pinning him under the vehicle and leaving him with a compound dislocation of his elbow and a wicked scar on his forearm.

"I guess trouble just seems to follow me," Morgan said. "All you can do is laugh about it. Everybody else does."

Some fellow members of the 82nd steer clear of Morgan, he said; others warn soldiers not to stand too close to him. The rest are placing bets on whether he'll draw enemy fire again before his tour in Afghanistan is over. With his reputation and his two Purple Hearts, he's a combination of jinx, good luck charm and guardian angel.

"My commander says he loves me to death, but he won't fly in the same aircraft with me," Morgan said.

On the other hand, he said, "These guys willing to ride in the Humvee with me will never have to prove their bravery."

His fellow soldiers honored Morgan by naming the drop zone at their local base after him: DZ Morgan. Naturally, a strap carrying the very first load of artillery shells to arrive broke, sending the rounds tumbling to earth. They didn't explode, and no one was hurt, but Morgan's reputation for skirting disaster was further embellished.

For all his wounds, Morgan says, the military is less dangerous than his previous job. He spent nine years as a professional rodeo bull rider.

One bull broke Morgan's jaw, he said, and his mouth was wired shut for weeks. Another bull punctured Morgan's lung by stomping on his ribs.

He remembers looking up from his hospital bed after his last bull-ring injury and seeing his wife, who was pregnant with their first child. "I started thinking: What kind of life is this going to be, me always getting hurt, with a baby on his way?"

So he decided right then to find a less perilous profession. He joined the Army.

Between the bull-riding and 12 years in the military, Morgan says, he has undergone surgery 11 times. He says he's lost track of the number of times he has been knocked unconscious in the arena or on the battlefield, but he figures that it's about 15 and counting.

"You know how they use cadavers to test bullets and wounds?" he said. "Well, now they have a walking cadaver."

Morgan is a fast healer. After he was wounded in Kandahar on July 9, he said, he cut the cast off his foot and was back in the Afghan war zone Aug. 22. He said his military doctors didn't want him back in combat at all and told him not to go back to active duty for eight more weeks.

"It was one of those wounds where I could've sat home and watched TV, or sucked it up and got back over here with my boys," he said.

Asked why he returned to battle after two near-fatal injuries, Morgan pointed to his men and then pulled out a laminated copy of the Ranger Creed. Morgan is a Ranger, one of the U.S. Army's elite soldiers.

"I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession," the creed reads. It adds: "Never shall I fail my comrades."

At the mention of Morgan's name, his battalion commander, Lt. Col. Martin Schweitzer, paused and said: "That man is an American hero."

Morgan and his Humvee crew say they're disappointed that they haven't seen more action in eastern Afghanistan. Now that summer is over--Morgan's two battlefield wounds, his lightning strike and auto accident all occurred in July--he says he's ready for a good firefight.

"I say bring it on," he said. "I'm good at least until next July."

As Morgan and his crew sat parked on a dusty knoll, securing a village that was being searched by fellow soldiers, they heard a rattling noise in the brush. They thought it was a snake. Morgan considered stepping out and investigating.

"Hey," he said, "I haven't been snake-bit yet."
Link Posted: 10/27/2002 9:06:37 AM EDT
Well, might be nice if they mentioned at least ONCE what caliber weapons hit him in the head.....

BTW, Second Chance makes a new generation "Fritz" helmet now that is rated Level IIIA, instead of Level II.....


Scott

Link Posted: 10/27/2002 9:58:31 AM EDT
That is one tough sumbitch!
Link Posted: 10/27/2002 10:15:32 AM EDT
Link Posted: 10/27/2002 10:16:29 AM EDT
1. That Sumbitch must have some serious neck muscles (or no neck, like me) to withstand two hits.

2. The USGI kevlar provides a significant degree of protection, but relying on it for protection from a 90-degree hit is insane.
Link Posted: 10/27/2002 11:41:20 AM EDT
I would far prefer to go out into combat with kevlar noggin numbers than a bandanna.

That said, for some reason this community is particularly suceptiable to "one off logic." Outliers become the standard by which a given product is judged. That's just silly.

You know, fur trees occasionally save people from multi-thousand foot falls from airplanes/parachute failures, etc.

As a result I propose we line all major commercial air routes with fur trees.

Sound dumb? Well this kind of thinking goes on all the time. "I shot a deer with XYZ and it worked great. I'm using XYZ for self defense!"

A given round, helmet etc. might preform a given way once, that doesn't tell you anything about performance except maybe its very outer bound of performance.

Helmets are designed primarily to protect from artillery fragments- not high velocity rifle rounds.

Again, I'd far prefer to fall on a fur tree than a rocky slope, doesn't mean it will always save me.
Link Posted: 10/27/2002 12:00:10 PM EDT

Fur trees ?




Never mind
Link Posted: 10/27/2002 12:12:30 PM EDT
No I think she meant 'fer' trees.
Link Posted: 10/27/2002 2:13:52 PM EDT
I bet the guys in his unit fondly refer to him as "magnet ass" among themselves! Geez, that was some of the most lucky and yet, unlucky situations I have heard in a while. They need to put this guy somewhere safe in the rear and let him finish his time. But with his luck, mortars would probably rain down on the kitchen or wherever they would put him!
Link Posted: 10/27/2002 5:43:22 PM EDT
Wheras before glancing strikes would penetrate,now they get deflected.
Shots from on far that used to pnetrate don't, as often....

This is a good thing.Not a cure all,but a good thing.Just ask this guy mentioned,though I don't suppose he can sum anything but luck,divine intervention,and a bit of Voodoo for his stretching the end of the bell curve in his favor!!!
HOLY CRAP!
I got chewed up in the Corps,but this guy!!!!
Sometimes ya gotta realize when the man above is telling ya to take up needlepoint for a living!

Tatanja has it in spades though.
My luck is thus that the hit will be square on the skid lid,I'll hit the rocky slope next to the Douglas Fir stand,the airbag wont work,and the Ground fault will fail when the hair dryer falls into the tub,and when the fecal matter hits the fan at work,I'll be in the Head with the trousers around the ankles.
I'm not as lucky as Morgan.

As for stopping Shell fragments,anybody ever see the frag from a Commie bloc Heavy cannon?

The family will have a nice head in a helmet to bury!

Even the small stuff will give a guy a major headache!

No thanks!

My patrol cap is off to the guys!

May they all come back in one piece!

S-28

Link Posted: 10/27/2002 9:29:16 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Deanh:
No I think she meant 'fer' trees.



Ugh. Yes. I did.

Too sleepy when posting=bad spelling.
Link Posted: 10/27/2002 9:31:49 PM EDT
Ummm, FIR trees. Tatjana, how about a pic with no camo paint?
Link Posted: 10/28/2002 12:39:48 PM EDT

Originally Posted By soylent_green:
Ummm, FIR trees. Tatjana, how about a pic with no camo paint?



There are enough of those floating around already, thank you very much.
Link Posted: 10/28/2002 3:13:38 PM EDT
What a story!
Link Posted: 10/28/2002 4:23:54 PM EDT

Originally Posted By CANADIAN_TACTICAL:
Sorry Tat
www.copperredradio.com/images/redi1.jpg
to good to pass up



Kevin:

Now THAT is nice!
Link Posted: 10/28/2002 5:00:20 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/29/2002 5:36:09 PM EDT by CANADIAN_TACTICAL]
Tony,
Thats the real reason I never want to get in fights with her - she's attractive, intelligent, likes guns, and really knows ammo stuff.

Okay Editted for clarification

My unit was going to send 40 of us down to Ft Bragg to celebrate Menton Day - ala 1 SSF - we are still sister units

In no way was I intending to mean that Tat and I were going to Bragg together
(keep dreaming Kevin)

Sorry Tat and others, for any unintended consequences.
Link Posted: 10/29/2002 1:36:09 PM EDT
Ok, I know they're not "designed" to stop small arms fire, but has anybody actually done any decent testing of the various countries/manufacturers' ballistic helmets to see whose works best? I took a few shots at a british kevlar with a .22LR rifle and from the lack of damage, I'm now wonder what it will stop, how the PASGT fares in comparison, what about the German version, Israeli, RBR, etc?

Considering all the other research on literally every subject under the sun on the net, I've been unable to find jack squat about this subject. So does anybody have any info, or do I have to go buy a nice helmet collection and then shoot it all to sh!t to make an informative web site? :)

As far as the lucky guy, I'd bet money that both times he was shot with 7.62x39 - and he's awfully fortunate that was the case. 7.62x39 is not that impressive against anything remotely armored, I guess due to the lower velocity. If he had been shot with 5.56, I'd think he wouldn't have survived the first head shot. And I agree with the guy who suggested he look for a new career - or at least stop wearing a helmet that's already been shot once. Lightning sometimes strikes the same spot twice!
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