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01-07-06, 07:07 PM
U.S. Army Sgt. Shawn Snyder
Helmet Protects Soldier from Sniper Fire
By U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Mark Wojciechowski
133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

FORWARD OPERATING BASE REMAGEN, TIKRIT, IRAQ, Jan. 6, 2006 — For many soldiers, the new Army combat helmet is a necessary evil. It can be cumbersome when in the dining facility trying to handle a tray of food and it causes headaches and tension in the neck when worn on lengthy missions.

However, Sgt. Shawn Snyder of 3rd Infantry Division's 2/7 Scout Platoon is one soldier who will never complain about wearing his helmet again. With good reason — it saved his life.

Snyder's mission was to serve as a routine escort of the explosive ordnance disposal detail to the forensics building in downtown Tikrit, so that they could retrieve explosives that Iraqi people found.

"Usually what we do is block off each end of the street so that they [explosive ordnance disposal personnel] can go in and pick the stuff up," Snyder said.

Snyder was standing up in the turret scanning his sector and had been waving off traffic for about 15 minutes. He recalls hearing a shot and feeling "a little jerk."

Snyder quickly called out to his driver and team commander to ask who was firing. Then, he said, he saw the Kevlar particles flying around so he jumped down in the vehicle and wondered if he was dying. Snyder removed his helmet and felt around on his head; there was no blood. The round, most likely a 7.62 mm from a sniper rifle, ricocheted off the upper left side of the helmet, shredding the outside and slightly cracking the inside.

"I didn't get a concussion... didn't even get a headache," Snyder said in a matter-of-fact tone.

Snyder is married with a 13-month-old boy. When the 25-year-old Snyder told his wife what had happened, "she took it as best as a wife could, knowing a round almost killed her husband a month before he got home," he said.

Snyder still wears the same helmet, but he has since replaced the desert camouflage cover which was badly torn. He will get to keep the helmet when he returns to Fort Stewart, Ga., as a memento of an event that he'll never forget.