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After his fellow Marine is killed, South Jersey veteran helps improve battlefield armor

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After ten years in the U.S. Marine Corps, Joe Dimond knows how cruel war can be. One day while serving in Fallujah, Iraq, he witnessed it up close.

An enemy sniper began firing on American troops guarding a military facility.

“The sniper shoots Cpl. [Clifton] Trotter through the neck. He falls. He starts saying ‘tell my wife and kid I love them’ — he had a baby on the way — basically preparing to die,” Dimond said. “[Lance Corporal] Ryan McCurdy leaves the concrete wall, bends over to pick him up, and is shot through the side and killed instantly.”

Although Trotter survived, Dimond never forgot witnessing McCurdy perish while trying to rescue a fellow Marine just outside their post.

“You need eyes in the street, you need to be able to see what’s going on,” Dimond says. “There’s a better way to do that than just standing in the open waiting to be shot.”

So after leaving the military Dimond joined the Marlton, New Jersey firm Dynamic Defense Materials, where he helped develop a portable armored wall system that’s more durable and easier to set up than sandbags. You fit square panels into whatever configuration you need to protect against bullets or blasts, kind of like an armored LEGO set.

It’s aptly named McCurdy’s Armor.

“To me he was a hero,” Dimond said. “He ran out there without hesitation.”

DDM has sold McCurdy’s Armor to the Marines and the U.S. Army, as well as the Mexican federal police, Afghan border security forces, and the Singapore military.

Dimond says the feedback has been positive, and that one group of servicemen told him it shielded them from a firefight.

“They said AK-47 rounds were hitting it and it sounded like somebody was throwing pebbles at it. They just hear dink, dink, dink, you know. And they were fine,” he said.

The company donates a portion of the proceeds from McCurdy’s Armor sales to a charity for children in Baton Rouge, La., Ryan McCurdy’s hometown.

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