By Titus Ledbetter III, Belvoir EagleSeptember 30, 2013
Sgt. Joseph Morrissey thanked the development and acquisition professionals involved in procuring the equipment that saved his life when the Program Executive Office Soldier presented him the interceptor body armor that protected him.
Morrissey, 26, of the 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, received the body armor during a Sept. 18 ceremony at PEO Soldier headquarters on Fort Belvoir.
"Without you, I wouldn't be here," he said to those in attendance. "It has been a little over a year since the incident happened and last year I was able to come home from that deployment."
Morrissey, while serving a tour in Afghanistan, was shot in his lower abdomen Aug. 9, 2012, by a 7.62 mm round in a five-round burst from 30 meters away after he got out of his truck to warn children not to play with concertina wire. The armor plate blocked the bullet and he continued to patrol for 48 more hours.
Since the attack, Morrissey married his fiancée, Nikki, who is now seven months pregnant. Morrissey is stationed in Fort Bragg and said his wedding day was the best day of his life.
Morrissey will display the body armor in his home and it will be a Family heirloom. He received the armor after it was tested for a year. The Army tests all personal protective equipment damaged during combat. PEO Soldier personnel performed forensic engineering analysis to find out how the body armor performed under the Joint Trauma Analysis and Prevention of Injury in Combat Program.
"I think that, in general, not just my husband, but military personnel should get more recognition, as well as the people that are making the equipment for them," Nikki Morrissey said.
After Morrissey was shot, he was taken back to the patrol base, according to Command Sgt. Maj. Emmett Maunakea of PEO Soldier. A medical evacuation helicopter was called in to attend to Morrissey because personnel thought he was going to have to be flown to another location. However, he went back on patrol after his interceptor body armor was replaced.
Maunakea formally presented Morrissey with the body armor on Sept. 18.
"This is where it all culminates," Maunakea said. "You've got a Soldier who got hit, went back in, continued a patrol, finished the entire rotation, came back and he is standing here today."
Soldiers who are leaders fight even after they have been hit, Maunakea said. He expressed appreciation for the dedication of Soldiers. Maunakea also thanked the acquisition personnel because their efforts saved Morrissey's life.
Francis Hayden, operations chief for PEO Soldier, said that it was rewarding to see Morrissey come to Fort Belvoir to receive his Enhanced Small Armed Protective interceptor body armor. He said the purpose of his office is to procure equipment that saves lives. Morrissey said he will tell his fellow Soldiers about how many people are involved in procuring the equipment that the service uses.
"We provide the best equipment to our Soldiers," Hayden said. "When we hold these events, Soldiers will call us, or Family members will call us, and just want to thank us for getting their Family members back home because of the products that we procure."