PEO Soldier Returns ESAPI Plate That Saved His Life To Paratrooper

At 0912 hours on 12 August, 2012 while conducting a route clearance patrol near SP Panza, Afghanistan, SGT Joseph Morrissey of C Troop 4-73 Cavalry, 82nd Abn Div was shot in the chest by a 7.62 round from a distance of 30m. It hit right in his ESAPI plate which absorbed the blow and saved his life. Yesterday, that plate was returned by Program Executive Office Soldier’s SEA, CSM Maunakea.


Surprisingly, right after the incident, his unit initially thought they might have to MEDEVAC him due to the shot, but once they sat him down and conducted an assessment they realized that the projectile had not penetrated through his vest and all he needed to do was replace his front ESAPI plate. They did that and he was returned right back to his patrol.


The plate was returned to SGT Morrissey courtesy of the Joint Trauma Analysis and Prevention of Injury in Combat Program at Ft Detrick which funds collection and analysis of PPE. Although it’s a joint program, the actual analysis is conducted by personnel from Program Executive Office Soldier to determine how well it performs against real threats and to use the information to make better armor systems in the future.

According to COL Marilyn Brew (USA) a PM at JTAPICP, the program has been around since 2006. She related that in addition to Armor Plates, they also analyze soft armor, helmets and other armor items, regardless of the service of origin. Amanda Perry of the Technical management directorate explained that they have over 70,000 data points in their database.

This was a great opportunity for SGT Morrissey to meet the men and women behind the equipment that saved his life. Conversely, the team at PEO Soldier had a chance to put a face on the work that they do.

SGT Morrissey took the opportunity to thank everyone at PEO Soldier. He explained that prior to the visit, he had no idea that a place like PEO Soldier even existed but said that he would spread the gospel once he returned to his unit at Ft Bragg.

When I asked him about his PPE his answer was simple, “It Works.” He went on to tell me that prior to this incident he was no fan of body armor, but now? “If it wasn’t for this equipment, I’d be dead.” And that pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it?


SGT Morrissey was accompanied to the ceremony by wife Nikki and battle buddy SPC Samuel Walley.


SSD wishes SGT Morrissey and his lovely wife well as they will soon become parents. We’d also like to thanks PEO Soldier for the opportunity to visit their facility and cover this story.

13 Responses to “PEO Soldier Returns ESAPI Plate That Saved His Life To Paratrooper”

  1. Ken says:

    Wow, lucky. Considering that his big ass was wearing a SMALL plate. I’m supposed to take a large plate, but a medium fits well and covers the vitals. No way I would fit in a small.

  2. fmfbest says:

    That same thought jumped right out at me. They pride themselves on getting the right gear out to the troops and here is this “big guy in a little plate”(in my best Chris Farley voice).

  3. SSD says:

    Guys, I’ve met him. He ain’t that big. Maybe a medium but definitely not an XLarge.

  4. Thanx for covering this Eric

    Good story

  5. Scott says:

    Putting on a demonstration and shooting DRMOed SAPIs with enemy threat weapons was probably the biggest confidence booster I have experienced.

  6. Nikki Morrissey says:

    SSD, thanks so much for reporting my husband’s story (and accurately so!). It is much appreciated.

    I’m glad this small plate saved his “big ass” 🙂

  7. Mohican says:

    That’s a real clue about the huge importance of body armor and the need to get it issued to any troop.

  8. Mohican says:

    Would you mind me posting it in our Blog? I am sure this news is interesting for anybody all around the world.

  9. Danny Morrissey USN/RET says:

    I’m so happy the plate saved my sons life, and has probably done the same for other great U.S. soldiers. Stay strong and stay safe.

  10. Mohican says:

    What SP stands for when talking about SP Panza?

  11. Tom Short says:

    Which OEM made the ESAPI?