U.S. Marine Corps
Gunnery Sgt. Shawn Dempsey holds up the armor that saved his life. He was shot in the back by an insurgent while conducting operations in the Anbar province.
Gunnery Sgt. Shawn Dempsey holds up the armor that saved his life. He was shot in the back by an insurgent while conducting operations in the Anbar province. U.S. Marine Corps
Gunnery Sgt. Shawn Dempsey has high praise for the body armor he wears, even though many complain it's too heavy for patrolling in the unforgiving heat of the Iraqi desert. A sniper's bullet left a poker-chip-sized hole in the Marine's armor, but the equipment saved his life.
"I'm standing here in front of you," he says. "I can tell you it's effective."
Dustin Kirby, a Navy medical corpsman who treated Dempsey after the incident, says Dempsey received a painful bruise, but was otherwise OK. If he had been wearing an older version of the armor plates, Kirby says, Dempsey would have likely died or been paralyzed.
"If he was wearing the old [equipment, the bullet] would have gone right through," Kirby says. "Right through. Best-case scenario: He would have lived the rest of his life paralyzed, you know from the mid-level back down... Worst-case scenario, he would have bled out."
Dempsey, a 33-year-old platoon commander from Jersey City, N.J., says he feels "very lucky."