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Army September 1, 2011
A sight for sore eyes
An MTF 1 officer has received a unique trophy to
go with his Meritorious Unit Citation -- the glasses
that saved his eyes, LS Paul Berry reports.
FOR one cavalry officer a pair of
shrapnel-scarred ballistic glass-
es were an unlikely highlight
of Long Tan Day commemora-
tions at Brisbane's Gallipoli Barracks
on August 18.
Capt Aaron Cimbaljevic, who
joined MTF 1 colleagues in receiving a
Meritorious Unit Citation, was reunited
with the protective glasses he was wear-
ing when wounded by an IED during a
patrol in Afghanistan's Mirabad Valley
Capt Cimbaljevic had only positive
things to say about his personal protec-
"I can verify that these glasses really
do work -- I would have lost an eye for
sure if I wasn't wearing them," he said.
"I would use the analogy 'you
wouldn't face up to Brett Lee without
protective equipment' and it's the same
facing up against the Taliban or any other
"It doesn't make you bulletproof or
IED-proof, but it does reduce the risk of
injury and disfigurement."
Director Diggerworks Col Jason
Blain (CO MTF 1 at the time Capt
Cimbaljevic was wounded) said it was
great to give the glasses back to their
"Evidence of the shrapnel effects on
the glasses demonstrates the absolute
value in wearing the issued equipment
we give our soldiers for personal protec-
tion," Col Blain said.
"You can see the effects of the blast
from the scarring on the glasses and,
as Capt Cimbaljevic has testified, these
glasses, I believe, saved his eyesight."
Col Blain, who was on the patrol
when Capt Cimbaljevic was wounded,
said the event was traumatic.
"I was in a position to see the guys
react and respond to it -- a CO doesn't
usually get that perspective, but to be
on the ground at the time that a soldier
is seriously wounded and to see that
response gave me great confidence," Col
"Our men and women had been
trained very well prior to deploying and
the whole response and evacuation was
Capt Cimbaljevic's injuries were
classed as critical category alpha and he
was evacuated promptly.
"The guys on the ground were bril-
liant at everything they did and the
courage, commitment and self-sacrifice
to come in and put their lives at risk,
I'll be forever grateful to them," Capt
The glasses have been with the
Defence Science and Technology
Organisation, which analysed the blast
force, penetration effects and effective-
ness of the ballistic eyewear.
But now, Capt Cimbaljevic has other
ideas for his glasses. "They'll be going
straight to the pool room," he said.
Blast from the past: Capt Aaron Cimbaljevic receives the protective glasses
he was wearing when wounded by an IED from Col Jason Blain.
Eye saver: Capt Aaron Cimbaljevic tries out the glasses that protected his eyes from shrapnel when he
was wounded by an IED in Afghanistan with MTF 1. Inset, Capt Cimbaljevic immediately after the incident.
Photos by LS Paul Berry
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