MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – -- The days of heavy, oversized boot camp helmets are a thing of the past. No longer will Marines hide under cumbersome brain buckets. The Marine Corps has gone to great lengths in providing security and comfort to their warriors in parts of the world where relief is hard to find.
The II Marine Expeditionary Force initiated an optional new padded suspension system for the Light Weight Helmets to all deploying Marines on July 26, 2006. The decision was based on battlefield feedback and its implementation will provide greater comfort for its warriors.
According to Maj. Chris Dalton, II MEF supply officer, the former commanding general of II MEF, Lt. Gen. James F. Amos, wanted to provide Marines with an option to turn in their old helmet and transfer over to the padded system.
“These pieces of gear aren’t cheap,” said Dalton. “Each padding system costs about $55 a piece.”
Cost is not an issue when it comes to the welfare and morale of the warriors on the ground. Dalton said II MEF has purchased enough padding systems to equip every Marine who will deploy this fiscal year.
Units have already begun showing up at the Consolidated Issue Facility on a daily basis replacing the older, more traditional style helmet with the newer, more secure system, according to Charles Martin, Camp Lejeune CIF warehouse manager.
“The entire process takes three to five minutes for each individual,” Martin said. “We get them in and out as fast as possible.”
Each Marine shows up voluntarily, fills out a form, turns in his old helmet, gets resized and is given a replacement kit with replacement pads.
Martin said Marines have had a positive reaction trying on the new system.
“They usually say something like, ‘Oh, that feels good,’” Martin said.
The system places six pads around the sides and one center pad on the top of the helmet. The pads attach to the Light Weight Helmet by Velcro and should fit snug against the skull, stated Martin.
“It makes for a better fit,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Ronald Ross, II MEF G-4 supply chief. “Marines have said it is comfortable…it tends to lessen movement.”
Lance Cpl. Leland Flowers, amphibious assault vehicle crewman, 3rd Platoon, Company B, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, said he looked forward to turning in his aged, smelly Light Weight Helmet.
“I wore a Kevlar for six months that was way too small,” Flowers said. “These new ones feel great.”
Flowers, who deploys to Iraq soon, stated that war veterans tend to stay with the style of helmet they are familiar with and those new to the Corps take advantage of the new gear.
Whether a Marine does or does not desire cushion in their head protector, the choice is theirs. In this instance, comfort seems to derive from care by providing additional ease to some hardened warriors at war.