By BONNIE LILL • The Stewart Houston Times • December 13, 2008

DOVER — The 80 employees of Sentry Armor were the focus of a presentation at the plant on Thursday. Garrard County, Ky., Deputy Dave Amon accepted a replacement vest from the thriving body armor manufacturer in Stewart County.

Amon was shot as he assisted other law enforcement agencies in a pursuit in Kentucky on Nov. 22. His bulletproof vest, a GH Lite II manufactured in Dover, saved his life.

It is the policy of GH Armor Systems (the brand name made in Dover) to provide a free replacement to officers whose GH vests saved their lives.

The Thursday dinner and presentation was originally planned as an employee thank-you but morphed into what Vice President of Operations Suzanne Larsen termed, "an opportunity to show you how special you are."

A number of local law enforcement members, city and county officials and company officials were in attendance as well.

Larsen said through their production of body armor, the employees are "not just building product, they are saving lives."

Amon — who was accompanied by his wife, Karen Amon, and their son, Cruise Amon, as well as partner Deputy Willie Skeens — reflected those sentiments when he addressed the group.

"I worked in a factory once ... and the product I made was not near as important as what you make here," Amon said, showing emotion.

"Since that day, we have celebrated our 14th anniversary and Thanksgiving — because of you."

He gave some details of the pursuit that led to his injury, telling the employees that he never had time to release his seat belt. The gunman shot through his windshield.

Amon said that the bullet grazed his hand and hit his chest below his collarbone. Parts of the exploded bullet then hit his neck.

He was treated at a local hospital, receiving three stitches in his hand and one in his neck, and was sent home within three hours.

Later, he asked what his injuries would have been without the vest. He was told that at best, he would have lost a lung; at worst, his life.

Skeens also owns Patriot Public Safety in Lancaster, Ky., that sells GH vests. He told the group that they not only saved a life, they saved "a father, a son, and a deputy sheriff that is my brother, not by blood, but by the badge."

He said that he joins the Amons in his indebtedness to those who make the vests.

"When you are having a bad day," Skeens said, "think about saving lives."

Scotty Wylie, president of GH Armor, presented the new vest to Amon.

"We are all part of the Pacific Safety Products family," he said. "Our goal in life is saving lives."

PSP is the parent of Sentry Armor.

Sentry Armor in Dover opened in August 2006 with 10 employees. It currently employs 80 people.

It has three computerized cutting machines, and products are made start-to-finish at the factory.

Sentry makes primarily concealable and tactical armor, sold in North America, as well as Pacific Emergency Products (high-end medical bags) sold worldwide.

"This is our fifth save this year," said Chris Grado, National Sales Manager for GH Armor Systems. The other four were in different states.