Army Specialist Tom Albers shows how close a bullet came to hitting him inside of his helmet.
LE MARS, Iowa (KTIV) -
It could have been a fatal shot to the head, but a piece of equipment on a soldier from Siouxland remarkably saved his life.
"I sounded like a solid thud," Army Specialist Tom Albers said.
Army Specialist Tom Albers was trained for combat by Iowa Army National Guard, but nothing could prepare him for the hit from a bullet.
"I fell down and took cover," Albers said.
It happened in 2011. Albers was serving in Afghanistan. As part of his mission, he was assigned to patrol hostile areas, and help Afghan military police. He also helped local people.
"A lot of them are appreciative of what we do, the schools we build, the roads we put in for them and everything," Albers said
He says many of the people there were friendly, but his unit had to keep an eye out for Taliban fighters. The day he was shot, his troop had just gotten word that there were some in the area.
"We were on a dismount patrol, with the AMP, and I was walking up this hill, and when I crested this hill, I saw a building on my right, so I was gonna tell my guy 25 meters to the left of me that I had a building over here," Albers said.
But that's when the bullet hit him. The shot was fired from an AK-47 about 100 feet away.
"The bullet went in here, would have been right about my left ear, than exited in the back here," Albers said as he pointed to his helmet.
"You hear stories about what's gone wrong, but you never hear stories about what's gone right," Army Sergeant Blake Coughlin said.
And perhaps what's more remarkable is that Albers got back up shortly after being shot, and helped his unit fight off insurgents.
Army officials analyzed the helmet and held a special ceremony to return it to the soldier.
"I just expected to get the helmet in the mail or something and found out they were going to present it to me at drill today and didn't think it would be anything this extravagant," Albers said.
His family says he's wanted to serve since he was a boy.
"A lot of pride, a lot of respect for all these guys, Tommy, all the rest of them also, for what they've done and what they do," Jason Albers, Specialist Alber's brother said.
For his action, Albers was given the purple heart.
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