San Diego County Sheriff Leader Once Survived Bullet to Forehead

The man in charge of the San Diego County Sheriff’s North County reserve and volunteer deputy program has a war story that predates his time with the force.

He was hit by a sniper in the forehead during the Vietnam War, but survived thanks to his helmet.

Cpt. Ken Pipes, 78, has had a long career with law enforcement; he has been a reserve deputy for 25 years. He’s been in charge of the North County program since June.

But prior to that, Cpt. Pipes commanded more than 200 marines of Bravo Company during the 1968 Vietnam War battle of Keh Sahn. It’s known as Vietnam’s longest and bloodiest battles. Hundreds lost their lives.

“We are obliged to live the best life as we can because they will never be able to,” said Cpt. Pipes.

He’s been recognized for his courage and bravery with awards that include a Silver Star and Purple Heart.

Cpt. Pipes says he’s lucky to be alive. During the long battle, he was hit by a sniper in his forehead. His helmet saved his live.

“The round penetrated the old steel helmet that we wore. It went through the plastic liner and for some reason, it stopped there,” said Cpt. Pipes.

He also took a piece of shrapnel that to this day is lodged inches from his heart.

But as courageous as his story is, Cpt. Pipes is quick to turn the conversation to others. And today, he chooses to focus on today’s veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He talks to them about possible law enforcement careers with the Sheriff’s Department, which in San Diego County currently employs more than 500 veterans.

“There’s so many of those men and women, and they bring so much maturity, experience and responsibility at a young age,” said Cpt. Pipes.

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