I was on vacation recently and picked up the GW/LE September 2007 issue for some leisure reading around the pool, and Matt Berger’s article on body armor reminded me of a personal incident I would like to share that would reinforce his article’s statement.
It was the spring/summer of 1999 and I was leaving to work the midnight shift as an armed security guard at a well known national supermarket chain that was open 24 hours in a section of town that has rarely seen trouble. I was dressed and as I left, my fiancée asked me if I put on my vest that night and I told her, “No, nothing ever happens at the store. It’s in a good part of town.”
She argued with me and made me promise to wear it and I finally gave in and put it on before I left. It was one of the older internal plate styles, very bulky and very uncomfortable.
It was shortly before midnight on Saturday and I had just completed my rounds of the parking lot. I was checking the monitors above the checkouts that scanned the parking lots to make sure I had not missed something.
During this, the store personnel were closing the alcohol coolers; in this particular state from 2:00 AM Sunday to 12:00 PM Sunday afternoon, no carry out beer or wine can be sold. So the store places signs stating this on the doors and all sales are suspended. I made my usual rounds through the aisles and the grounds finding no unusual activities, all the time growling about how heavy and bulky my vest was under my uniform shirt. Even though the air temperature was in the mid 60s I was sweating under the vest. The underwear cooling t-shirts had yet to hit the market.
Somewhere around 3:15 AM, a drunken male entered the store and proceeded to go shopping. My duty station for 75% of my time is right by the registers so I was there as the man returned with a large bottle of beer in his hand and walked up to the register. The cashier informed him she would not be able to sell it to him due to the law and he began to argue with her about this. I stood back for a few moments allowing her to try and take care of the situation, if possible. After a few moments, it became apparent the man would not allow that to happen so I walked up and asked calmly, “Is there anything I can help you with, sir?”
“Yeah, this girl won’t sell me no beer!”
“Sir, there is a state law that says we cannot sell between a certain time, right now is that time. You can leave that here and leave the premises or I can escort you out the door, which would you prefer?”
“I don’t need to be escorted, I didn’t know there was a law, she just said she wouldn’t sell it to me. I’ll just put it back and get me something else, okay?”
“That would be fine, thank you for understanding.”
At this point, he picked up the bottle, and as quickly as he could, and quicker than I thought a drunken person could move, he swung the bottle in an overhand arc at my head. I was able to duck and roll my shoulders so the bottle hit against my back and broke open against my back and armor. I was standing there with my right arm twisted over my left thigh with my Mag-Lite 4-cell hanging there. I came back up with it in my hand in an upward arc, catching the man under the jaw. This placed him on the floor stunned, where I was able to cuff him; during this encounter the store personnel called the local police; they also called the local EMTs, as they noticed blood on my neck.
After the police and EMTs arrived and statements were taken, the blood was found to be from a small cut that was on my neck from flying glass. My shirt, however, was cleanly sliced 7 inches or so. According to the EMTs and Sheriff’s deputies that night they all agreed, if I had not been wearing a vest that night, I could easily have had a trip to the hospital and been seriously wounded with severe muscular damage, maybe even possible spinal chord damage, resulting in paralysis or possible death.
The vest was slightly damaged, although it was only the outer shell material not the actual ballistic core.
— BZ, Internet