2007 Blog

23 Dec 07: Doc Bob, There wasn’t enough room in the box on the request page to write the whole story about my helmet dilemma.  The marine corps had issued me back in 2006 a pad system. The one they issue however is very stiff and (seems) about one and a half inches thick. When installed it makes the kevlar stand several inches off your head and is ungainly and not very comfortable. Most marines in my company trashed them and stuck with the webbing, but I did a little surgery on mine and cut the pads in half. It was more comfortable and didn’t sit so high but it didn’t provide a tight seat with my head. Going on this second deployment, I was again issued a new LWH with the suspension system in it and a bag of those same junk pads. If I have to I would just wear the old suspension rather than install the pads they issue us. One of my friends last deployment had written you guys and I believe he received a set of Oregon aero pads. I remember trying his on and it was perfect. I have 25 Marines in my Comm section at xxxx and we are deploying to xxxxxx in March. If you guys could lock us on some quality pads we would be in your debt. Even if you can’t, I want you to know that you and your organization are doing us a great service. Thank you and Merry Christmas.  USMC

Dec 21, 07: Our pads here suck. I will appreciate anything that is donated (40 troops) for everyone in my platoon. IED’s are one of the more popular attacks that we go through here and good pads are hard to come by.

Dec 21, 07: thank u for your support, once one person heard about these comfortable helmet pads everyone wanted some, so i got with a person from each squad and we signed up so that hopefully everyone in the company that goes out on missions will be able to have helmet pads. thank you again for your support

Dec 2, 07: YOU KNOW WHAT, This will be my 15th time in BAD GUY COUNTRY and we have never received any upgrades what so ever to any part of our uniform. I know that the Air Force is low on the the pecking order, but in my 20 years of service I have always had to go outside my means to make myself or my fellow airman fill safe. I can pretty much guarantee you that we will never see the PASGT upgrade. Now with that said we just hade a group leave in early Aug. and they have never seen any upgrade. Now its our turn and I can tell you we will never see the upgrade. To tell you the truth we have 200+ leaving in the near feature and not one of us will see the upgrade.

12/29/07 I was asked to attend a gathering of the D/chairmen of House Intel, Homeland Security and Appropriations held in Portland, Oregon this week. We had lively discussions about the problem now surfacing related to putting the troops in danger through procuring and issuing inferior products, including blast/impact-protecting helmet pads. I left the meeting assured the matter would be looked into with vigor and quickly. Stay tuned for more information when Congress reconvenes after the New year. I CAN tell you that several criminal indictments are in the process, aimed at those responsible for procurement of military items.

Nov 17, 07: i heard about this website through a battle buddy that recently received a bunch of helmet pads for his squad (from operationhelmet). it was really amazing to me to see people that actually care about out comfort and safety of all of us. its people like you that make my job worth doing. thank you for the continuous support and anything that is sent will be used, shared and most importantly appreciated.

Nov 17, 07: Concussions have been one of the biggest threats to my fellow brothers and sisters in arms.  We appreciate all the efforts made to help bring comfort and safety in every form possible.  When watching the news can become unbearable for our families, we appreciate all the generosity made on our behalf.  THANK YOU.
Nov 14, 07:”I have recently received a shipment of helmet pads (from Operation Helmet) for my squad and everyone is loving them. the comfort and support that it provides is far better than any other gear that i have purchased. now that i have received the pads for my whole squad, i was told to ask if i could receive some for the whole platoon and/or company. there are 160 soldiers in the company and about 50 in the platoon. about 100 people actually go out on convoys in our company. anything thing that is given to us is very much appreciated and wont be taken for granted. we will use them and give back as much feedback to help you further do this wonderful job that you have chosen for us. we do a lot of convoy security and concussions are a very popular injury. the comfort level in the pads that have been sent are exceptional. thank you for all of your support and love from home. we appreciate anything that is done for us. thank you guys from the bottom of our hearts.”

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PFC, Army National Guard
Number needed: 45
Reason: convoy security
03 Nov 2007, 02:47:00
i would really appreciate some helmet pads for everyone in my platoon. we all encounter roadside bombs or ied’s frequently and the more comfort and protection the better. we would appreciate as many as you can send , but also understand that not everyone will be able to have them, so we will distribute them to the people that go in the front the most first. if you can send these it would be much appreciated. ieds’s are an everyday thing for us since we drive more frequently than others. we appreciate your support and hope to hear back from you soon.

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03 Nov 2007 06:40:19:  xxxxx 1st platoon was just issued their gear and the current kit is terrible. Most of us are going to be infantry officers and plan on using these for the next six months while at the The Basic School (TBS) as well as in the fleet and on deployments

11/01/07

The pads that I currently have in my ACH are old, issued in 2004 prior to deployment to Iraq, I used my ach just about every day that year. Came back to HAAF, used it about 2 times a week, for the following year. then got orders to afghanistan for 15 months but got new pads but they were uncomfortable and I ended up switching back to my old stinky pads. The pads that I have are warn out and used up.

10/31/07:  Service branch: Army: CPT xxxxxx, 1xxnd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 6xxrd Transportation Company
Number requested: 160 (Convoy Escort Teams)
31 Oct 2007 04:45:38 We have upgraded ACHs; however, we did not receive replacement pads for them and most are already worn out and we’ve only been on ground 90 of our 455 day orders. This is an awesome program!  Thank you for taking the time to take care of us! “Warriors on the Road!!”

10/30/07 infantry and we leave in xxxx. some of the marines do have the issued kit but they don’t even come close to the ones you/ provide cause they have been used by hundreds of marine before them. They aren’t as thick and comfortable.

10/13/07:I am an Infantry Squad leader deployed in Afghanistan. We have the Mich Helmet with Pads, but they suck. Once you wear them, they do not hold their form and are hard to get replaced, we do not get replacements until we go back home, which is in a year.
10/13/07: Was told the pads were different then the ones we received (previously), the ones we got (now) the fabric around them are falling apart, and you can see everything inside is wrapped on in some thick plastic which is probably the cause of the discomfort, its thicker then heavy duty trash bags.

9/22/07 “Sir, I am preparing to deploy to Afghanistan and recently was issued my Rapid Fielding Initiative (RFI) gear.  Included in the issue was one bag of MCH helmet pads.  However, these pads were not the Oregon Aero pads that I knew and trusted from my most recent deployment to Iraq (NOV 05- NOV 06).

The bag of replacement pads are stiffer, uncomfortable and a knockoff of the Oregon pads.  Oregon Aero spent five years developing their pads yet the soldier is now being handed a cheap imitation.

What, if anything, can we do about it? Rspy, Major XX., 101st Airborne”

 

And from the Marines, “Hello, My name is SSgt xxxxxxxx. I am the supply chief with xxxxxxxxxxx unit xxxxxxx.  Our company received some kind of upgrade pad that was issued from battalion that the marines will not wear because it is so uncomfortable.  The pads do not fit the helmets therefore causing the helmet to sit extremely high on the marines head.  The pads are also very hard and as mentioned earlier extremely uncomfortable.  Our marines need to wear the pads because of the importance of helping save marines lives that are in explosions. I sincerely hope that you and your company can help with our problem.”

Another Soldier: “The current pads have worn out within a month of my first having them I have had to resort to how the helmet was first configured putting in the former system it had in it.”

Requests have come in from senior unit personnel asking for replacement kits as an alternative to the uncomfortable ‘GI’ pads (known as ‘bricks). The common factor is their need to concentrate on their mission instead of a headache…especially Special Ops, Intel and Sniper teams. This operational necessity should be addressed by the Marines and Army supply folks; until then, we’ll help as much as possible as long as the requests come from those authorized to do so.

We also continue to receive requests from troops in the field asking for the upgrades. Despite reassurances from MarCorSysCom to the contrary, some troops are still being sent ‘out the door’ to combat duty IN Iraq with the bare-bones LWH with NO protective padding. Commanding a desk is less dangerous than commanding a combat unit…but no less responsible for protecting life and limbs of our warriors.

8/7/07 telecon and email from Marine unit TODAY heading out ‘quickly’ says NO UPGRADES available CAN WE HELP? Thanks to you, America, we DID!

25 July 07 – My husband has just deployed for the 4th time to Iraq last week. Although he volunteered to go with his platoon this time, for me it’s feels like the first all over again. I had inquired about sending him a Helmet pad and I remember getting a response that the Marines are issued their own. My husband called at 2 am today asking specially to please email your organization to please send him one of yours if at all possible. Proud Marine Wife.

Marine Corps Systems Command now has a helmet survey for Marines to take here:

A major shortfall in the USMC survey is failing to ask Marines if they have used more than one type of pad and which they prefer. If you’ve only tried ONE, then there’s no basis for comparison. Also, the survey fails to state that pads with no ‘brand name’ or only a NSN (stock number) on the Velcro-sensitive side are Team Wendy. Oregon Aero is the only pad set that now has the manufacturer’s name on it. This isn’t rocket surgery, folks. GET IT RIGHT!

Interesting document found at the Natick web site.  Says that padded helmets are better than those with no pads – in Aug 2003! – by the Marine Corps team!  Click here.  Guess the right hand didn’t know about the left hand.

From the Military Medicine journal: a study on helmet comfort that used a sample size of 1,123 soldiers.  The survey data was collected from July 2004 through January 2005.  Pads are more comfortable (really!)  Click here

18 July 2007 – Hey Doc, I received the first 20 pads yesterday. Already the fellas are singing the praises of those things, and they all say that it’s made a hell of a difference in how comfortable their helmets are. Again, I can’t thank you enough for the huge difference that you all have done so far. Most people just bitch about the way things are going, and sometimes throw some money at it. This has been my first experience where someone on the outside has made such a huge and tangible difference in our quality of life. I commend your dedication to this cause, and will do everything I can to promote it throughout the Corps. Semper Fi. Sgt Keith xxxxx

Moose Quakertown 1622
For all of you Moose type folks:  Moose Couple Spearheads $35,000+ In Fundraising for Iraq Troops’ Helmet LinersBy CHRISTOPHER RUVO Bucks County (PA) Courier Times

16 June, 2007 – I have been negligent in sending you a thank you for the helmet pads.  They arrived and I passed them out to my Marines who installed them instantly.  I did not realize that I could wear a helmet for an extended period of time with out getting a whopping headache.  From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.  Semper Fi, Maj. Xxx, USMC

5 Jun 2007 – Thanks again for all the support you gave xxx 1/25 Marines last year in Fallujah.  The helmet pads were great and we had a few left that we handed over to the unit that replaced us.  One of the organizations that I had asked to donate to the cause had approved a donation but never sent it.  Can you still use it?  I’ve looked over your webpage and I’m a bit disgusted with the way the DOD has approached this problem.  Good to do something but it’s best to do the right thing.  It’s unfortunate that the people that are making those choices (on an inferior product) will never been in a situation to use it.  Your efforts have made such a huge impact on our service men and women’s lives and I thank you for it.  Very respectfully, HM1(FMF) xxx

14 May 2007 – I wanted to thank you very much for sending me the two Kevlar inserts. When my grandpa had told me that he had talked to you and that you had designed them yourself* we got into a long conversation about how I hated the old equipment that the Marines for compared to all the other branches of service. I mean I have gone a long time without those inserts that you sent me and my neck used to be sore and stiff long after I got the chance to take off my Kevlar. I just really want to thank you since I put those inserts in I can wear my Kevlar forever it seams like without it irritating the hell out of my head and neck. I gave my good friend Cpl S, the other one that you sent and he agrees with me and he also sends his thanks. Cpl T, USMC, Fallujah Iraq

*OH Note: We don’t design them, just buy them and send, thanks to a generous and patriotic American public.

9 May 2007 – Dr Meaders,  Sir, my name is Mark Cramer and I would like to share the results of your efforts that were championed by yourself and Cher.  About 3 weeks ago my little brother, a soldier in Iraq, was seriously injured in HUMVEE rollover.  He sustained significant internal injuries to pelvis and lungs.  I am delighted to report that despite nearly losing him 4 times he will make a COMPLETE recovery!   A notable aspect is his recovery is due to the fact the padding you worked on in his helmet prevented any head damage.  If it were not for the padding this story would not be such a happy one.  I and my family would like you to be aware of this and hope that it will serve in your work in continuing to improve the equipment our soldiers use. I would also like to thank you and Cher for what is a great service to our nation!  –Mark Cramer

8 May 2007 – Our names are Brittany, Monica and Gabby and our husbands left for Iraq last week. They are infantry in the United States Marine Corps. Unfortunately their helmet pads are not the best and we would feel so much better knowing that they had these helmet upgrades that have been such a blessing over there. We told our husbands about these pads and they are really excited to have them. Below are their addresses. Thank you for all you are doing to help our troops over there, it means the world to them and their families for playing a part in bringing them back home to us!  Thank You Again! God Bless

How are the ‘new’ Marine-issue pads being accepted in the field? Here’s this morning’s (4/27/07) email from a unit preparing to deploy shortly: “Hello, My name is SSgt xxxxxxxx. I am the supply chief with xxxxxxxxxxx unit xxxxxxx.  Our company received some kind of upgrade pad that was issued from battalion that the marines will not wear because it is so uncomfortable.  The pads do not fit the helmets therefore causing the helmet to sit extremely high on the marines head.  The pads are also very hard and as mentioned earlier extremely uncomfortable.  Our marines need to wear the pads because of the importance of helping save marines lives that are in explosions. I sincerely hope that you and your company can help with our problem.”


2 April 07 – From a Marine Reservist heading to a second combat tour. He is helping us raise funds to provide optimal helmet upgrades for all his comrades. His words come from the heart and mind of a true hero.  This morning nearly $18,000 in checks was delivered to support this particular Company. Now, there are four other Companies in the Battalion to go! Let’s all get high behind and spread the word of the need, shipmates.

To My Family & Friends,
As some of you know my Marine Corps Reserve unit will soon be re-activated to fight in Iraq. I won’t give details as to our timeline, destinations, or missions as they will change daily and operational security is paramount.  Regardless, I will be leaving soon. And the question that I have been asked the most is ‘How do you feel about going back to Iraq?’ Well… I’ve told them how I feel and now, if you could spare a minute, I would like to tell you how I feel.


To answer the question shortly – I want to go back. In fact, I feel that I need to return to the fight.  Why? Why would I want to go back to a war that is not producing results, costing billions, and killing my brothers on a daily basis? Why would I want to go to a war where I have little to gain and everything to lose?  Why? Because it is the right war to fight. The American public has lost sight of the true war that we are fighting.  Iraq has become a convenient distraction from the true fight. What war am I talking about? It is the war that radical Islam has waged against the rest of the world. It is the same war that has been overshadowed by the catch phrase “The War in Iraq”. Well, “The War in Iraq” is not a catchphrase and it isn’t the war itself, its a battlefield, like Afghanistan, where we get a chance to spill the blood of our enemy. And unlike any war in the past there are no boundaries and there will be no end. No end until Jesus returns in fulfillment of his prophecy. My son and his children will be dealing with this fight as the enemy will never change their ideological stance much like we will never change ours. This war will wage as the Fringe Elements of Islam continue to exist.


Many people believe that being in Iraq has little bearing on the war on terror and winning is no longer an option. Yet even if we have no chance of winning we must have the moral strength and courage to continue to fight.  Through our operations we have tilled up the Iraqi society and our departure would only allow the enemy to embed themselves deeply within the social fabric. Left unchecked this situation would produce a state that is evil, radical, and anti American. This would be a Jihad Victory. Because of this we must be victorious.


I say that it is the “Right war to Fight” and I mean it with every fiber of my being. America is in this fight now. Much like Israel is locked in war, we are now locked in war. It may be slow and protracted but it will remain.  You may be thinking that this is not the case and that the attacks on American soil were a fluke. I say to you that you are lying to yourself and are in for a rude awakening. Not only are you in for a rude awakening but your self-deception will cost our nation dearly in mindset and readiness. You have become tired of fighting. But how can anyone become tired of fighting the right fight? Much like in a foot race you will begin to tire and hurt. You will begin to focus on what is happening to you now. You have lost sight of the goal as you focus on yourself. And the pain that consumes you now has killed your aspirations of winning. You will only be able to win when you keep your eyes on the end goal and you see past the now. But unfortunately our eyes, via the news, have been focused on the now far too long.


Where have the enemies of our country come from? The answer is Radical Islam. The only thing that I can equate Radical Islam to is a gang. In a land where there is little to offer in terms of education, jobs, and class advancement the idle public will begin to look for affiliation. They find that affiliation in their religion. Similar to a gang, Fundamental Islam provides a sense of belonging which translates to influence and through that affiliation and influence the members execute the will of the organization.


Another variable in this complex equation is the stance and objective of our own government. Much like the issue of social security this problem will remain critical yet unresolved. Social security has been identified as flawed. Yet action, or better yet the decision to act, seems impossible to attain due to partisan goals. The issue of Social security is indicative of our government’s all talk and no act nature. Like social security this conflict will not die. And like social security it will not be dealt with. Leaving Iraq will no more fix our problems than ignoring Social Security and hoping that it rights itself. How bout we shoot for simple political victories now and leave the tough issues for future generations to deal with? That sounds more like cowardice than a plan. You can dress it up hundreds of different ways but at the end of the day we will be left with one of two outcomes, victory or defeat.  One comment that I receive a lot is “Man, we need to just bomb every Muslim and get it over with.” I couldn’t disagree, and be more disappointed with that statement more. This situation is so much more complex than that and to offer such a suggestion is counterproductive. The enemy that we are fighting is radical, much like a cult.  David Koresh and Jim Jones perverted and twisted the word of Jesus Christ as do these individuals manipulate the words of Muhammad for their own demented gains. I consider all leaders and organizations that operate in this fashion to be my enemies. But the remaining 99 % of Muslims are decent people and do not deserve to be grouped together with their fringe counterparts.


One phrase that has stuck with me and rings true is the simplest I’ve heard: “If they lay down their weapons there will be peace. But if we lay down our weapons there will be a holocaust”.  So as I sit here I think about the journey that is before me. I have begun my preparations and as the day approaches I find myself more and more focused. I will leave behind my wife and my son, who I will have only known for 1 month, bound for Iraq on my second combat tour with my Marine Reserve unit.  And I am prepared to walk back into the fire for my wife, my son, and all of you.

Semper Fi, Sgt. Baker M. Bxxxx, Section Leader
Weapons Company (Mobile Assault Capable)
3rd Battalion 23rd Marine Regiment 4th Marine Division
Baton Rouge LA.

25 Feb 07 -We hope for 100% coverage by military supply system no later than the end of January, 2007!  (oops) DIDN’T HAPPEN: the ‘surge’ gave us a backlog of troops asking for help.

 

Please don’t let frustration with the pace of things in Iraq or partisan bickering take your eye off our goal: protect our troops no matter how we feel about the war!

 

We’re getting a lot of requests from troops who have been issued the new ‘GI’ helmet upgrades. Turns out the pads are so hard they won’t conform to skull irregularities. This leads to areas of ‘ischemia’ (lack of blood supply) to the scalp with resulting migraine-type headaches. Picture yourself standing watch for bad guys while your troops dash in and out of houses looking for insurgents and weapons cache’s…and you’ve got a pounding headache. Think your concentration is 100% on the job? Think again!

 

“Concern for man and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavors. Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations. ”     Albert Einstein

 

 Where possible, we will help these troops by sending the pads they prefer for their wearability, but funds do not allow for us to help everyone as long as they have SOME blast protection, no matter how uncomfortable and disconcerting. Best place for troops to complain is the respective service supply system or headquarters. In the meantime, COME ON, supply wonks and manufacturers. Better stuff is out there and readily available. How many troops have to die needlessly while you save a few bucks?

 

2 Feb 07 – 33,000 kits

 

On another note, troops tell us the ‘new’ Marine-issued pad systems and the ones newly purchased by the Army, are NOT the Oregon Aero pads we have historically provided.  We selected them due to their excellent track record protecting from blast forces as well as ‘wearability’.  We are told by troops that the new pads are very hard, do not allow the helmet to adjust to their heads, resulting in headaches and discomfort. Some are taking the ‘new’ pads out and pounding them with a hammer to try and make them softer and more wearable. We don’t know what that will do to the protection they provide, but it can’t be good. Helmets only work if they are on the head. If troops have to take them off for comfort in the middle of a combat patrol, that’s NOT GOOD.  While the ‘new’ pads meet blast/impact protection test limits, so do NASCAR shock absorbers. Would you wear those in YOUR helmet?

 

The Marine LWH was designed to have 1/2″ ‘standoff’ between the kevlar shell and the skull as the helmet rests on the original nylon sling.  The new Marine-issue pads, however, are either 3/4″ or 1″ thick. Putting these into the standard helmet decreases the interior diameter either one or two inches. The ‘standard’ LWH once retrofitted with these ‘GI’ pads is now at least one size smaller. So if you’re a Marine in Iraq and are given a set of the pads with instructions to put them into your helmet, it won’t fit on your head! And good luck on trying to find the next larger helmet shell…I’m told they’re just not available. Good planning?

 

We continue to lobby Congress, sort of like the proverbial thorn in the foot, to urge the military/industrial complex to look at this issue from a view other than saving money.  Our troops deserve the best if we are going to ask them to stand in harm’s way in that troubled and dangerous area of the world! The manufacturers CAN and MUST do better by our troops, providing not only protection but NO distracting discomfort or poor fit of helmets.  Stay tuned.

2/19/07 heard from two Reserve units of 300 Marine apiece, deploying soon with the old PASGT helmets and no upgrades in sight; asking for help obtaining upgrades…can YOU help?

2/1/07:  Bravo ZULU to the Marines for deciding to provide this potentially life-saving upgrade to the head armor for our Marines. But a finger-in-the-eye for the kits they wound up buying:  “Email from a Marine dated 2/1/07: “A Marine in my unit recently received one of your kits. He couldn’t say enough good things about it. The pads in my helmet are ridiculously hard and the helmet doesn’t even fit on my head properly. This causes extreme discomfort and makes it hard to focus on the task at hand. I am requesting a couple additional kits for junior Marines who are having the same problem as me. This will greatly improve our efficiency. Thank you for your support”. (This Marine is a combat engineer doing explosive breaching. Might just ‘go to pieces’ if concentration lags due to discomfort.

And if you wonder why we keep on keeping on:

“I received the shipment today, my platoon is very excited to have these.  I cannot thank you enough for what you do, this was one of the best gifts my Marines could get before some of them go for the first time. Here is to fair winds and following seas, Sir…and Semper Fidelis, LCPL MXXXXXX. ”

2/1/07: Where are the upgrades? Another email today “I was very excited when I saw this program. I was in Ramadi Iraq for seven months last year. I had so many problems with the kevlar helmet provided to me. It was very uncomfortable for one. I was in a Humvee that was hit by an IED and I received a concussion while wearing my Marine Corps issued helmet. The driver of that vehicle had one of these pad systems inside of his and he was in perfect condition after the incident. I looked them up and wanted to buy one but they were too expensive. I would highly appreciate receiving one of these kits.” YOU BET, TROOPER. As long as we have the money, NO trooper will do without. Thank you America for making this possible through your on-going donations.

1/29/07 MORE ON THE NEW AND “IMPROVED” GOVERNMENT-ISSUE (GI) PA

Just received a pad set from a trooper who said he ‘couldn’t stand to wear his helmet for over 30 minutes without taking it off…not a good idea if a sniper is lurking or IED’s don’t have warning signs posted! Sent him an Oregon Aero upgrade, of course. Great idea someone had, isn’t it? Save a couple of bucks and get a trooper killed. Might even get a bonus at the end of the year for saving money. Bah. Humbug. Throw all the buggers out, find Congressional folks AND Civli Servants who will use common sense to help our troops complete their dangerous jobs.

Some pad sets don’t have identifying marks on the Velcro-sensitive side, just the NSN and “Susqehanna Assoc F/T Blind”. (..the law mandates that the National Institute for the Blind et al at least take some part in manufacture/shipping of the kit). Hard as a brick, won’t conform to skull irregularities. No dang wonder they hurt! Not all heads are perfectly round.

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