Massachusetts Firefighter Helps Protect Troops

Updated: 12-21-2006 10:34:37 AM

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President George W. Bush said Wednesday that one of his top priorities during the war is to ensure that our men and women wearing the uniform have everything they need to do their jobs.

NewsCenter 5's Amalia Barreda reported that this is welcome news to a local National Guardsman, who's made it his mission to help protect his fellow troops

Attleboro firefighter Paul Jacques was assigned to Nasariyah during a 6-month tour of duty in Iraq. But it was his work with Operation Helmet that made him the focus of numerous articles.

"It gives added comfort, added protection and added stability for the soldier wearing the helmet," Jacques said.

Jacques has raised nearly $30,000 to buy kits making military helmets safer -- especially in the event of an explosion. It costs $100 to upgrade each helmet with special pads attached with Velcro.

"The comfort aspect of it is so that the soldier's going to keep it on more. If it's uncomfortable and is going to be bothersome, he is more apt to take it off," Jacques said.

Jacques blamed red tape for the failure to outfit soldiers with safer helmets throughout the Iraq war. He chose his words carefully when he commented about Bush's plans to send more troops to Iraq.

"When we're doing our jobs and we're told to do our jobs, we can't let personal opinions get in the way of that. Hopefully, everything works out in the end and the individual making the decisions will make the correct ones for us," Jacques said. "I'm glad I went over there, glad I was a part of it -- a part of history," Jacques said.

The Armed Forces have now promised to buy properly outfitted helmets for every fighting man and woman. Even so, Jacques said he would continue to raise money for Operation Helmet until he sees that promise is kept.