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THE LUCKIEST MARINE IN FALLUJAH

0800
FALLUJAH, IRAQ
OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
SEPTEMBER 17, 2004

IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A QUIET DAY.

All deployment images provided by Todd Bowers. 

Staff Sergeant Todd Bowers of the 4th Civil Affairs Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, was simply “cruising around town” on MSR Mobile security patrol in the northern quadrant of Fallujah when the Infantry platoon he and his team were supporting started taking machine gun and sniper fire.

“I was one of the few that had a Trijicon ACOG® on my M16A2 at the time,” Todd explains, “which my dad surprised me with as a gift right before my second deployment to Iraq.”

Because he had an ACOG, Todd ran up to the front line to spot the enemy and utilize a magazine filled with tracers for U.S. heavy guns. As bullet cracks “popped” overhead, he took a knee and zeroed in on two particular bad guys with machine guns. 

“Then, all of a sudden, my rifle flew from my hands, my safety glasses blew off, my helmet blew off and I rolled backwards down a hill.”

When Todd sat up, he looked down and saw blood and dirt. He knew he was in trouble.

“The corpsman came over and started patching me up, and while I can’t say exactly what I said because there was a lot of four-letter words, he said that I was the luckiest marine in Fallujah because the enemy round had hit my ACOG, which stopped the bullet just short of my eye…by half an inch.”

Todd stayed in the fight for another hour, helping evacuate wounded Iraqi civilians and Marines even as U.S.artillery became “danger close.”

Todd Bowers

Todd Bowers

THE GIFT OF LIFE, TWICE

It wasn’t until 2100 that day that Todd was able to call his parents, which he recounts here:

“I told them, ‘You can hear my voice. That means I’m OK. But I got hit today. A bad guy aimed a little better than I did, but fortunately the round hit my ACOG and I’m still here.’”

Todd’s father John, a former sergeant in the Marine Corps, called the 4x32 TA31F ACOG “the best purchase I ever made in my life.” To pay him back, Todd gave John his Purple Heart, which he has carried in his pocket every day since.

“I always told my dad that he essentially gave me the gift of life twice,” Todd says, “and to this day he still carries that Purple Heart in his pocket. It’s been to Hadrian’s Wall, the United Kingdom, New York City, Turkey, Greece, Sicily…all over the world.”

THE SHIELD, INSPECTED

The 7.62x54R Dragunov round is still in Todd’s ACOG, most likely shot from a Soviet-made Dragunov SVD rifle. And the ACOG’s reticle is still visible and illuminated (though, the sight picture has shifted a bit).

What stopped the bullet (other than a bit of luck) was the ACOG’s forged 7075 aluminum alloy housing and its internal prism assembly.

THE BOWERS FAMILY GROWS

Todd now lives in Wayland Massachusetts with his two daughters, whom he calls “the lights of my life.”

One is five years old and has taken up archery. The other is one-and-a-half and is “full speed.”

Rarely a day goes by that Todd doesn’t reflect upon his good fortune.

“That day was very unexpected. Very. I always try to highlight that we were part of a Civil Affairs unit, so we were attached to the real warfighters: the infantry. It’s just that, on that particular day, we got ambushed.”

Todd Bowers

“I didn’t even know the bullet was in my ACOG until the corpsman saw it. I thought my rifle had exploded. Just the way it was suddenly gone, the way everything blew off my face, I thought a round had cooked off in the chamber or something. That was my first thought. But the bullet’s still inside the ACOG and I’m glad it stayed there.”

 

Trijicon is proud to make a contribution to Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) on Todd’s behalf. To help support TAPS, please visit TAPS.org

 

ACOG on American Flag

Story inspired by Lance Cpl. Miguel A. Carrasco Jr.’s 2004 article “Rifle Scope Stops Incoming Fire, Saves Marine’s Life” on 1stmardiv.marines.mil

 

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