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Why I Serve: 'To Save Some Soldiers' Lives'

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait, Jan. 10, 2005 – If the workers at the facility putting armor on wheeled vehicles here need any motivation, all they have to do is look at a scarred piece of ballistic glass they have.

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Chuck Wentworth displays a piece of ballistic glass that withstood enemy fire. Wentworth said he shut down his small business in Texas to "save some soldiers' lives" in Iraq, where he installs armor on military vehicles. Photo by Jim Garamone

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The glass is pockmarked with at least four bullets. "That saved someone's life," said Chuck Wentworth, a contractor with Radian, Inc. out of Troy, Mich.

Wentworth, originally from San Antonio, is working to put armor kits on Humvees and trucks. The shop works 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The workers part of the Army Materiel Command put on armor kits built at Army depots in the United States. And they save lives.

Wentworth owned his own small business in Texas. "I shut it down to come over here and save some soldiers' lives," he said. He works with civilian and military specialists who place armor on vehicles ranging from Humvees to Heavy Equipment Transporters the huge truck that move tanks and armored vehicles.

A tall rangy man, he speaks in a matter-of-fact tone until he talks about the stories he has heard in Iraq. "I went north and just went up to some of the soldiers who were around a truck we had armored," he said. "I noticed a cross on the windshield of the truck, and I asked the driver if he was a Christian. He said he was, but that the cross was where a round had hit the windshield. Then he showed me the other crosses he had placed where other rounds had hit."

The truck had armor surrounding the cab, and there were little crosses all around the cab. "He told me he just kept driving," Wentworth said.

In another case, an improvised explosive device had blown up next to a Humvee. Officials estimated that it was probably a remotely detonated 120 mm mortar. "There were three soldiers in the vehicle, and the round pushed in the side," Wentworth said. "The driver had a broken arm, a broken leg and a broken jaw, but it didn't penetrate the cab. The ballistic glass was shattered, but didn't break. He lived, and the other two walked away from it."

He said that every place he went in Iraq, he heard a story about how the armor had saved someone's life. He said he came back to work with even more motivation. "It really makes you feel that you are where God wants you to be," he said.

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