Head Shot

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Army photo

Specialist Tom Albers was wearing this helmet when it stopped an AK-47 round in Afghanistan, the Army says.

The Army has issued some 1.2 million of its Advanced Combat Helmets to troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. One of them stopped an AK-47 round and likely saved the life of an Iowa National Guard member. “It was able to stop and not allow the bullet to go ahead and penetrate his head at all,” said Command Sergeant Major Emmett Maunakea, who helps outfit troops from Fort Belvoir, Va., as the senior enlisted official at Program Executive Officer Soldier.

Tom Albers, of Alton, Iowa, was on patrol in Afghanistan 19 months ago when something hit his helmet and knocked him to the ground. “I asked him what had happened because he was coherent,” fellow guardsman Adam Riediger told the Le Mars Daily Sentinel. “He said ‘I think I got shot.'”

The Army, after analyzing how the helmet performed, returned it to Albers earlier this month. “The last time I remember seeing the helmet,” Albers told the newspaper, “I was sitting in a helicopter looking at the inside and seeing the pads (inside the helmet) all tore up.”

“I told him,” Riediger said, with just a bit of understatement, “he was one lucky soldier.”