Here is a video of a Marine who was lucky and his helmet protected him when an enemy sniper shot at him. 40 seconds into the video you hear a pop and the Marine in front of the guy with the camera tilts his head back from the hit. No injuries other than his ears ringing. At 1:39 into the video, the other Marine comments that the shot went thru the helmet. Very very lucky.
We here at TFB are fortunate to have a staffer who was personally there and witnessed this event. TFB writer Miles Vining wrote this about the video
Although this video has since gone viral, not many people know anything about the back story of it. Between the months of September 2013 and May 2014, 1st Battalion 9th Marines “The Walking Dead” (deactivated August 2014) was deployed to Camp Leatherneck in Washer district, Helmand province, Afghanistan replacing 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines “America’s Battalion”. There each company was assigned to a separate mission in support of either Regional Command South West, Task Force Belleau Wood, or helping supporting the British Task Force Helmand. Charlie company was based on Patrol Base Boldack, Alpha Company took on the local patrolling mission around Leatherneck, and Bravo company took on the Operational Ready Force (ORF) mission of RC South West. The ORF consisted of using either V22 Osprey’s or CH53s and inserting into various villages around Helmand province (and one time in Nimruz province) to deny, disrupt, and delay the actions of the Taliban.The video that is shown is from one of these ORF missions in which my platoon was apart of. In November of 2013, 1st platoon, Bravo company attached with a number of assets such as EOD, some special forces, FACs, cryptolinguists, and dog handlers were sent into the village of Barrack, Now Zad district to look into some compounds that were possible drug or weapons caches. The video shot is from the helmet cam of one of the EOD sergeants and the Marine who’s helmet was shot was the EOD guy’s team member. They were on the south side of the village and investigating some of the compounds that were deemed to be suspicious (incidentally the raid force did find a large amount of drugs on the mission, but not in the compound pictured). The guy who got shot (I caught up with him after the mission) was wearing a personal MICH helmet and thus couldn’t have gotten a refund from the government for a new one because it wasn’t issued gear. But if he had been wearing an issue kevlar, we don’t know what path the bullet would have taken (Bravo company had two Marines that got shot in their issued kevlars during the deployment, both survived with minor scratches to their head). In the long version of this video you can see members from my platoon holding security on the northern side of the compound, towards where you can see that large mountain, which was a dominating terrain feature and to the north of the village.I remember very distinctively when this happened as I was on Security North, on the opposite side of the village from where the EOD guys were working. We were in a long security halt along a road when all of a sudden the EOD guy comes on the raid net and says, “Hey my team mate just got shot in the head” . For a split second that tiny bit of realism and fear rushed through everyone of, “Damn it, we just took a KIA”. But that’s why he immediately added, ” But he’s okay though”. The missions continued on with the southern element receiving most of the small arms fire later on (mostly PKMs and Taliban sharpshooters). But there were zero ISAF casualties apart from the nicked EOD guy’s MICH helmet. The element I was in did receive a few bursts of PKM fire from about 600 meters. Myself and a buddy, Lcpl Zachary Weaver were inside a large ditch facing opposite directions when the PKM burst hit all around the ditch where we were at. I just remember hearing machine gun fire and thinking it was coming from the south, turned toward that way. Then just as soon as I did that, the air around just filled up with “CRACK, CRACK, CRACK” and the dirt was churned up a little bit. Weaver was about 7 feet from me and some of the rounds impacted by his spot as well. Our platoon commander was behind us in a building and walked out and said, “Holy shit, Vining and Weaver, you guys almost fucking died!”. We just kind of looked at each other and looked at him and said, “Yea we think so sir”. Ever since that mission whenever I would run into Weaver, we’d give each other a high five and say, “Hey man, remember that one time when we almost fucking died!”.But regardless of near misses, the PKM gunner didn’t open up again, and the annoying part was that we saw the guy walk out of the compound where he shot at us from. I remember he was wearing white or tan clothing, and there were children playing around the area. He walked out and looked right at us for several minutes and then walked away but we couldn’t shoot back because of the restrictive ROEs. This was to be constantly played out over and over again throughout the deployment.Although we were blessed with that mission, the battalion lost three Marines, had some amputees from IEDs, and a number of Marines with non fatal gunshot wounds.Lcpl Christopher Grant was killed by a suicide bomber as he was leading his dismounted patrol into a series of compounds around Camp Leatherneck. It was his first deployment and he was with Alpha 1/9. He was from Richwood, Louisiana and killed on October 20th 2013Sergeant Daniel Vassilian was hit by enemy fire while also leading his dismounted section in an all day long firefight outside of Compound 34, in sector Whiskey 7 Delta outside of Camp Leatherneck. Sergeant V was my section leader and personally told me to stay behind that day because we had to drop a Marine from the patrol roster. I’ve never wanted to go back in time so badly and be on that patrol. He was from Abington, MA and killed on December 23rd 2013.Lance Corporal Caleb Erickson was a Motor T Mechanic who was in the turret of an MRAP behind an M240B when a 500 bound suicide borne IED exploded right next to the vehicle. The blast flipped it on its side and rotated the 40 ton MRAP 90 degrees and entirely off the road where the turret flew off and gave Erickson such severe head trauma he died soon afterwards. My mounted section was on ORF that day and we drove out to pick up the pieces of the blast site and provide security for the wreckers and EOD guys. Everyone except the driver in the MRAP suffered broken bones and various other injuries but they are all still surviving today. The driver, who’s side of the vehicle was on the ground, didn’t suffer a single injury, apart from being banged up a good bit. Erickson was from Waseca, Michigan and killed on February 28th 2014.