Sergeant requests protective vest that saved his life

FORT BELVOIR, Va. (WJLA) -- In the midst of a war zone, Sergeant Joseph Morrissey managed to get out of his truck and into the sights of Taliban fighters. About five rounds of gunfire hit him, but thanks to a protective vest, he is miraculously alive and well today.

"I took a bullet here," said Morrissey

It was in August 2012 while on routine patrol that Sergeant Joe Morrissey took a bullet in the abdomen. On Wednesday, he talked about those frantic moments with ABC7.

“Initially, the feeling when I was hit was kind of like a sucker punch to the abdomen, a real quick hit -- a lot of shock and awe," he said.

The bulletproof vest Morrissey had on that day absorbed the blast and covered his vital organs; he believes it saved his life, and so does his wife.

"I was far from base and it would have taken too long for a medivac to get to me, so I wouldn't have made it," he explained.

It is routine for the army to examine protective gear after it is involved in an incident. Once the army finished the forensic study, Morrissey came to Fort Belvoir on Wednesday to retrieve the armor insert in the special vest he had on the day he came under fire.

The handing over of the vest gave him a chance to say thank you to those who work on creating and improving protective gear:

“It's a big thank you from me and my family. You know I am still here today because of what they do, the hours they are putting in."

The occasion also gave the teams that work on the gear a chance to see how their time and effort can really pay off.

"When we see a soldier standing there and he is still alive, it really helps to say, 'You know what, we've done a good job, the late nights are worth it," said Captain Brice Cooper with the U.S. Army.

Morrissey survived, got married, and will soon welcome a child in a couple of months. His wife believes the protective vest saved her husband’s life and gave her the future she wanted.

“I wouldn't have him or my daughter, so I am just so thankful and appreciative,” said Nikkie Morrissey.