Volume 8, Issue 5, September-October  2004

Dear Reader
Securing Our Freedom
by Brigid O'Leary

I come from a military family. My grandfather is a Bataan survivor. My dad, a 26-year Army veteran, served in Vietnam. I have a brother and a cousin who are active duty Air Force, both veterans of the two Gulf Wars. One of my cousins is active duty Army and another is an Army reservist (both Gulf War II vets and all three cousins are from one family). Two of my uncles retired from the U.S. Navy.

One of those uncles, my Uncle Jim, survived the terrorist bombings on U.S. military barracks in Beirut in 1983. He received a purple heart for injuries sustained by the blast and while evacuating wounded in the immediate aftermath of the bombing.

Why am I telling you this? Because those injuries that Uncle Jim sustained were caused by the barrack windows, which shattered in the blast. I recently asked him about this and he explained to me that only a few weeks before the bombing he and his bunkmates had covered the floor-to-ceiling windows as much as they could with ¾-inch plywood. Afterward, they inspected the plywood and found glass sticking out both sides; the glass that had not been covered (about 4 feet at the top) had flown into the room, cutting them and covering the room with broken glass. Uncle Jim told me that in other rooms, where no plywood had been used, glass was found imbedded in the walls opposite the windows.

In 1983 the use of blast-resistant window film was not a common safety precaution on government buildings, here or abroad. It was available, but dangers causing need for it did not seem imminent. Here we are 20 years later and the need no longer seems imminent, it has become imminent. Three incidents within the last ten years in the United States alone have made it so (World Trade Center bombing in 1993, Oklahoma City in 1995, and September 11, 2001), not to mention all the other cases of terrorist bombings overseas.

Had blast-resistant film been installed in the barracks in Beirut it may have lessened my uncle’s injuries and those of his roommates, and it might have saved some of the 241 Marines who lost their lives. Had blast-resistant film been installed it may have saved some lives in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and the World Trade Center towers. We know it saved some lives at the Pentagon.

So this month we’re taking another look at blast-resistant film. We’re looking at the market—what factors affect the sale and use of blast-resistant film—as well as the attachment systems that make blast-resistant film possible. Following up on the last issue’s topic of decorative film, we also present an article on film technologies and what changes are going on in the industry.

Change is inevitable. Hopefully this issue will cover information that is new to you while we review familiar topics that, like everything else, are changing every day. Some of the kids born the year of the Beirut bombing are now serving in Iraq, but now, at least, there is more awareness about ways of protecting our troops and our citizens. The more prepared and proactive we can be with our protection, the better off we all are. 


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