Body armor is in the news again. Eight out of ten Marines killed would have been saved had they had adequate armor that was fully available to the military.

NY Times Armor GraphicThe ceramic plates in vests now worn by the majority of troops in Iraq cover only some of the chest and back. In at least 74 of the 93 fatal wounds that were analyzed in the Pentagon study of marines from March 2003 through June 2005, bullets and shrapnel struck the marines’ shoulders, sides or areas of the torso where the plates do not reach.

John, my Marine son shared some armor stories with me while he was in Iraq. One, a sort of mythic legend that warriors might tell their grandchildren about, involved a Marine by the name of Miller. Miller took five rounds in the back, four rounds in the chest and one round to an arm. Miller survived, though the round to his arm sent him home early.

Nevertheless, knowing that hundreds of Marines and soldiers could have survived torso wounds had they been outfitted with the best gear is both heartbreaking and criminal.