Hudson honored as save number 17

After a close call in the line of duty earlier this summer, Knox County Sheriff’s Deputy Claude Hudson recently traveled to the Safariland Headquarters in Jacksonville, Fl to be formally inducted into the Safariland SAVES Club.

According to the company’s website, the SAVES Club honors officers who, during the line of duty, experienced a life-threatening incident in which this Safariland Group armor or gear contributed to saving their lives. Hudson was wearing a Safariland Group bulletproof vest when he was shot on June 12 while serving an indictment warrant. It was the vest and his badge that kept the bullet from piercing his skin, wielding off what could have been a fatal gunshot to his chest.

Hudson looks back on the emotional and wonderful August 16-19 experience, saying the company treated him like a king.

“It was actually (a) great and all-expense paid event for my wife and I. We got to go to some very unique restaurants and meet other people who were also saved by this company’s vests. I was save number 17 for this year and number 1983 for the history of the company,” said Hudson.

While at the headquarters, Safariland gave Hudson plaques to hang in the Sheriff’s Office and at his house. He also received a Safariland coin and a polo with his name and save number on it. Hudson then toured the factory and saw how the vests are made.

“All these years, I just put them on knowing they could save my life without actually knowing much about them. Now I know what actually goes into them and that they work,” continued Hudson.

While in the factory, Hudson’s story was read off as employees paused their work. Hudson then rang the factory’s bell, which is rung every time a save takes place. Hudson also gave an emotional speech to the Safariland employees.

“Since day one of this shooting, I haven’t cried one time except when I walked into Buster’s room right before his surgery. When I stood in front of the Safariland employees to make my speech, I lost it. Those employees were crying. They really care for us. They pray over every vest they make,” said Hudson.

As a member of Safariland Saves, Hudson will receive free police officer gear for the remainder of his career in law enforcement.

“For the rest of my career, I will want for nothing. Whatever I ask for, I can have. They have a catalog with about 22,000 articles and told me whatever and whenever I want something to just contact them. Every five years, they will supply me with a new bullet proof vest,” continued Hudson. “They treated us like kings for three days. They’re a very good company.”

Photos submitted by Safariland Group.