Blair, from 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment’s Weapons Company, was hit in the chest by a sniper’s bullet. Any doubts he ever had about his enhanced small-arms protective insert not working disappeared in one quick moment. The plate did its’ job, and he’s alive to tell the story.
“Everyone needs to wear their protective gear,” said Blair, a 23-year-old vehicle commander from
“It will save your life. I’m a testament to that. I’m living proof.”
The E-SAPI was issued to Marines when they first arrived in Iraq . They are designed to stop nearly any small-arms bullet fired by insurgents. Marines complained about getting heavier SAPIs, but now many reconsidered their complaints.
“I think the extra weight is worth it,” said Cpl. Kurt M. Vogler, a 26-year-old administration clerk from
Ellicott City Md.“If Blair had the older SAPIs, he might be dead.” Blair and other Marines from Weapons Company were conducting a vehicle checkpoint and security operations around a gas station near Gharmah. He was hit in the chest while waving a vehicle into the checkpoint.
His fellow Marines sprinted to action after he was hit. Marines parked humvees in front of Blair to shield him from anymore enemy fire.
Blair was hit with a 7.62 mm bullet, the same sized bullet fired from AK-47 assault rifles and insurgent sniper rifles. The E-SAPI stopped the round. The slug embedded in the plate, saving his life.
“It knocked me off my feet when it hit me,” Blair said. “As soon as it hit me, it hurt. It felt like a train hit me.”
Blair was transported to Camp Fallujah ’s trauma center immediately after the incident. Doctors examined him and told him he had two fractured ribs.