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Marines--Body Armor

“After receiving sufficient vests for each man…the chest and abdominal wounds were reduced some 90 to 95 per cent.”

ATTRIBUTION: Captain Louis P. Kirkpatrick, USN, 1st Marine Division surgeon, Apr 1952

Studies showing that 70% of men killed in WWII had been hit in the abdomen prompted the Corps to rush production of upper torso armor. Combat tests in 1952 of an 8-pound, zippered vest protected by basket-weave nylon and fiberglass plates proved effective against shell fragments, bayonet thrusts, and “Burp Gun” bullets. The “flak jackets” were bulky, hot in the summer, and vulnerable to rifle fire, but they saved U.S. lives. Armored vests have been standard issue since Korea.