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PANAMA DEFENSE FORCES RIOT HELMET - OPERATION JUST CAUSE


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This was a recent pick up from a friend at Ft. Bragg. It is a 7th SFG bringback and I had no real clue as to where this helmet came from. All I knew was it was most likely from either a Central or South American country due to the tag on the inside with Spanish writing. What threw me off was the last name Welch. A friend (Edgardo) told me that the surname Welch was relatively common down in that area which was something I didn't know. While researching another unrelated Panama Defense Forces item, I stumbled across a photograph of some Panamanian Police and Riot Police wearing what appears to be the same painted helmet. This led me to ask another collector friend about the helmet and he confirmed through photographs that the helmet was indeed a Panamanian helmet.

 

The helmet is a riot helmet from the 2a Cia Orden Publico "Centuriones". In English that would be the 2nd Company Public Order "Centurions". There were two riot police companies. The first was the 1st Company Public Order "Doberman" and obviously the 2nd Company was the Centurions. From what I can gather the Centurions were part of the Panamanian Defense Forces under command of the Panamanian Police and were considered a Logistics/Support type unit. According to Wikipedia, they were a riot control and logistics support unit. The unit was stood up in 1988, so this would definitely be a bringback from Operation Just Cause. The unit's barracks was basically destroyed by an AC-130 gunship during the 1989 invasion. 

 

The helmet is painted in a blue type camouflage pattern which is how the Centurions painted their helmets. The front portion has a plexiglass visor/shield which can be flipped backwards when not in use and has a metal keeper in the back. Inside has blue webbing type material and it also has a leather sweatband. You can also see where a name tag has been taped to the inside of the helmet. As to whom made this helmet, I have no idea as I do not see any maker's information.

 

I hope my explanation makes sense as things can be a little confusing. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

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Always looking for US and foreign militaria from the Central American wars circa 1970-1990

 

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  This is a picture of the damage done to the Centurions barracks.  If you look closely, you can see several of these helmets hanging on the end of the bed frames.

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Always looking for US and foreign militaria from the Central American wars circa 1970-1990

 

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