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Hard-headed Marine walks away from headshot

15 Sep 2006 | Lance Cpl. Erik Villagran

Cpl. Daniel M. Greenwald knows that being hard headed isn’t always a bad thing.

Greenwald, from G Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, was shot in the head by a sniper while conducting vehicle checkpoint operations in the Al Anbar province of Iraq. He’s now an expert at explaining just how good his helmet works.

“I was the greeter on one of the ends of a vehicle checkpoint,” said Greenwald, a 24-year-old assaultman from Rockland County, N.Y. “I was doing a double check on my vehicle, turned in and that’s when I got shot.”

The bullet’s impact knocked him out for a short moment. When he woke, he was wondering what sort of 18-wheeled truck just hit him.

“Everything went black,” he said. “I knew I got hit with something.  It sounded like a grenade or a small improvised explosive device.”

Greenwald jumped behind his humvee for cover as soon as he got to his feet. Still dazed from the impact, he radioed his Marines that he was hit.

Marines set up security to block the area they believed the round originated.

“We wanted to make sure he was alright and get him out of there,” said Cpl. Daniel J. Kelley, a 25-year-old squad leader from Centerville, Tenn. “The squad reacted well. They set up the cordon automatically.”

The squad’s hospital corpsman rushed to aid Greenwald.

“When I first got up there I thought he was dead because blood was running down his face,” said Navy Seaman Jared D. Condry, a 20-year-old corpsman from Jacksonville, N.C. “Then I started talking to him and he was responsive.”

Condry began to assess Greenwald’s injury and discovered an inch-long gash on his head. He put a patch on the wound and loaded him into a humvee that transported him to Camp Fallujah.

Doctors there took a closer look at Greenwald’s injury.

“They got me back in like 20 minutes,” Greenwald said. “It was a quick evacuation. The Marines’ performance in the situation was great.”

The Kevlar helmet was inspected more closely at the camp’s medical center. The bullet never penetrated through the helmet. It hit the night-vision goggles mount, rode the inside of the helmet and flew out the right side. A screw flew out of the helmet and caused the gash on Greenwald’s head.

Marines who know Greenwald have been letting him know how lucky he was to walk away from the incident with only a gash.

“You have to wear you’re PPE,” Greenwald said. “You never know what can happen. I was doing a regular VCP. I didn’t expect to get shot in the head.”

Greenwald is currently waiting to be medically cleared so he may rejoin his fellow Marines on the front lines.

“I’m just anxious to get back out there,” Greenwald said. “I want to help out the squad.”