Program to get better helmets to Marines is huge success
(10/06/06 - KTRK/HOUSTON) (KTRK) -- Marine officials have announced they will begin upgrading the helmets worn by thousands of Marines in Iraq, thanks in large part to a Montgomery County man. He's a retired surgeon just trying to keep his grandson who's serving in the Marines safe.
We first told you about 'Operation Helmet' three years ago. The man behind it, Dr. Bob Meaders, always knew he had a good idea, but he never thought the entire United States armed services would sit up and take notice.
Like most good ideas, Operation Helmet, started out small. Dr. Meaders' grandson, who joined the Marines three years ago, asked for special helmet padding. Dr. Meaders sent enough for his grandson's buddies.
"I sent him a dozen, for him and his rifle team," Dr. Meaders said. "He got back to me about 4 days later and said these are wonderful, but we don't want them if we can't get them for our whole company."
His grandson's company sent back a photograph showing off the helmets. That was three years and nearly $1.8 million ago. Dr. Meaders single handedly started raising money and soon was outfitting thousands of Marines with the pads.
The pads attach to the inside of the helmet, protecting a soldier's head. It didn't take long before Dr. Meaders was providing helmets for other branches of the military.
He said, "For the Marine helmet it was $71, for the Navy helmet which was older and more beat up, it was $100."
The money is donated from all over the country, coming in a dollar at a time or whatever people can afford.
Last summer Dr. Meaders was called to testify before Congress on the success of the padding. Just this week, the Marine Corp announced they are purchasing 89,000 kits for their troops. But for Dr. Meaders, that doesn't mean mission accomplished.
"We're going to work with the brain injury society of America and several wounded warrior programs to help rehabilitate these guys that come back with head wounds," Dr. Meaders promised.
Dr. Meaders worked as a naval surgeon for 20 years and knows first hand about wounds received in combat.
(Copyright © 2006, KTRK-TV)
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