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Better body armour may have saved himself

Posted on February 13, 2009 - Filed Under Body Armor |

‘Better body armour may have saved him’The mother of a soldier killed in

Afghanistan has raised concerns about the protection that body armour offers troops.Helen Gray’s son, Christopher, 19, died when he was shot in the side of the chest during a battle with Taliban fighters.An inquest yesterday heard Private Gray, from Ratby, was wearing body armour, but the fatal bullet passed through the side, where there were no armour plates, hitting his heart and both lungs.The hearing, at

Loughborough Town Hall, was told it was possible Private Gray had been targeted by a sniper, on April 13, 2007.
Ministry of Defence expert Alan Hepper had examined Private Gray’s body armour and said it had a single bullet hole 5cm to the left of the front plate.Mrs Gray asked him why the armour her son had been wearing did not offer more protection.She said: “I am aware the body armour is very heavy for the lads to wear, but surely there should be something at the side.“Why not protect the side? If there was something there protecting him, he might still be here.“Surely, something should be done. His heart was there. It went straight into the heart.”Mrs Gray told the court she was worried other soldiers could be killed if body armour was not improved.Mr Hepper said the tabard-style armour carried metal plates capable of stopping bullets at the front and back, but said plates at the side would make it too cumbersome and soldiers’ movement.He said research was under way to improve body armour.The inquest heard Pte Gray was leading his platoon – in point position – when it stumbled across Taliban fighters in the dense foliage of an orchard.Corporal Robert Moore said: “The reason I gave him point was that he was a very good soldier.“I had worked with him for three or four months and he had gained my trust.“He also had the fastest-firing weapon and I needed that punch.”Cpl Moore, who was awarded the Military Cross for his part in the action, gave a graphic account of the fighting.He said: “We knew the enemy were very sneaky. They never came up where you expected them to.“I was quite close to Chris. We saw four Taliban. They didn’t know we were there because they were laughing and joking among themselves.“I didn’t have to say anything to Chris. He opened fire with the machine gun and I opened fire.“All four of the Taliban dropped unnaturally.”Cpl Moore, nicknamed Billy by comrades, was shot in the arm when other Taliban returned fire.He said: “He (Chris) looked at me and said ‘Bill, I’m hit’ and he dropped to my left side.“At that point, it was do or die time for me. Trying to drag him was near impossible. He was carrying over 600 rounds of ammunition.”Other under-fire soldiers arrived to help extract Pte Gray, but efforts to treat him in the field proved unsuccessful.Coroner Trevor Kirkman recorded a verdict of unlawful killing.After the inquest, Mrs Gray and her husband, Paul, were too upset to speak, but Captain Ian Robinson, of the Royal Anglian Regiment, gave a statement on behalf of the family.He said: “Chris died in close combat with the enemy, protecting his friends quite heroically.“He had his whole life ahead of him. His family was very proud of him. He was a credit to them and this area.“He showed we can, in this country, still produce young men of quality.Pte Gray was posthumously commended for his actions.For further information, please refer to body armour  http://bodyarmorchina.com

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