FORT BELVOIR, Va. -- A Virginia solider is nearly four years removed from the day a bullet nearly struck his head in Afghanistan. Tuesday he was reunited with the very piece of equipment that saved his life.
Staff Sgt. Thalamus Lewis was presented with the Advanced Combat Helmet that saved his life during an emotional ceremony at Fort Belvoir.
On October 4, 2012, during Lewis’ fourth deployment, his helmet was struck by a single bullet while passing through a village in eastern Afghanistan.
The burst knocked Lewis unconscious and blew out the front of the headpiece. Most of all, it protected Lewis from severe injury.
"I just had a ringing in my ears and a slight headache," he told Military.com. "It was like a flash bang or something where it just hit you without you even knowing it's there. It just knocked me over."
The helmet was presented to Lewis mounted on a wooden plaque.
“To actually see what was left of it, I'm relieved and that's a chapter I can close out of my book and my military career,” Lewis said.
After the attack in Afghanistan, Lewis said there was no way he was going to tell his mother about what happened.
In fact his mother, Cynthia Boggan, didn’t find out until seven months later.
“She gave me the look, she gave me the look,” Lewis told WUSA laughing.
Boggans said she was just thankful this story has a happy ending.
"He walked away. And there’s just so many that didn’t. He was blessed enough to be the one that did," said Boggans.
The 19-year Army veteran admitted, he complained about his gear pretty often, but said he`s now a walking testament for how the gear can save a life.
"Being a soldier, we complain about a lot of stuff; this gear was one of my main things when we deployed," he said. "I don't complain about it anymore. I am a walking testament."