Tag Archives: Explosive Ordnance Disposal

Join our EOD career chat this week!

By Tech. Sgt. Steve Grever
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

Explosive Ordnance Disposal specialists have one of the most dangerous and important jobs in the Air Force. They handle live explosives on a daily basis and are trained to detect, render safe, recover and dispose of explosives and ordnance including conventional military ordnance, criminal and terrorist homemade items.

The Air Force social media team is highlighting this unique career field during a Facebook Q&A Aug. 22 at 2 p.m. CDT on the Air Force Facebook page. The chat features Staff Sgt. Sarah Snyder, an EOD Team Leader at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Snyder graduated from EOD technical school in 2005 and was assigned to Malmstrom AFB, Mont., and Eglin AFB, Fla., before coming to JBSA-Lackland this year. She has deployed to Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan during her Air Force career.

We hope you’ll join us for the Facebook Q&A session, and you can also learn more about the EOD career field as a whole on the Air Force’s recruiting website.

TBI and PTSD: ‘There is no shame in getting help’

by Tech. Sgt. Chuck Walker, 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
edited by Meredith March, Defense Media Activity Air Force Production

As high profile cases have emerged about National Football League players and other athletes sustaining brain injuries, and as the nation has watched veterans return home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder have become hot topics.

Allara2

Master Sgt. Jennifer Allara, an explosive ordnance disposal team leader at Dover Air Force Base, has experienced both.

In Sept. 2009, Allara’s EOD team at Provincial Reconstruction Farah, Afghanistan, was ambushed while out on patrol. A teammate, Staff Sgt. Bryan Berky, was killed by a sniper during the attack. For Allara, it was a wake-up call.

“We are trained to accept a certain amount of danger with our job,” she said. “I always thought in terms of me; what if something happens to me? What if we get blown up? I wasn’t thinking in terms of losing a team member in a turret.”

Upon her return from Afghanistan, Allara went to mental health and sought therapy when she began experiencing symptoms of TBI and PTSD. For her, it seemed to bring about more questions than answers.

Determined to heal, Allara recently began treatment at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Bethesda, Md. She will undergo four weeks of analysis and leave the center with a care plan designed to meet her needs.

Allara hopes that her example will compel others to seek help if they are experiencing problems when they return from deployment.

“There is no shame in getting help,” she said. “There is no shame in recognizing what is going on with someone and being able to reach out and help. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your Airmen.”

For more on this story, click here.

Airmen are in the fight

“The mission of the United States Air Force is to fly, fight and win…in air, space and cyberspace.”

The Air Force is definitely in the fight and living up to its above-mentioned mission statement. As an Airman, I’ve always known that. However, I noticed a couple of articles highlighting this fact today on the Air Force’s Web site.

One of the most heavily tasked career fields is explosive ordnance disposal. These Airmen provide an invaluable service to the joint and coalition teams supporting in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Dealing with the uncertainty of unexploded ordnance makes these Airmen heroes.

One such EOD hero is Tech. Sgt. Michael Williams, 437th Civil Engineer Squadron, Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. Charleston Airman honored for heroic actions is an awesome article about him receiving decorations for his actions in Afghanistan.

Sergeant Williams came upon an improvised explosive device Aug. 2. Trisha Gallaway’s story explains what happened:

With one step, his foot landed on a different land mine with an IED on it.

“(Following the detonation of the IED) the insurgents started firing on us at the location,” [Sergeant Williams] said. “My teammates did an outstanding job defending the area, taking care of me and getting out of there. I was very grateful.”

After losing the lower portion of his left leg from the explosion, (Sergeant Williams) courageously conducted post-blast crater analysis while engaged by insurgent small-arms fire. He passed vital details regarding the composition and size of the detonated IED to members of his patrol and assisted in his own medical treatment while awaiting evacuation.

During the evacuation, Sergeant Williams continued to pass information concerning the explosive device to his fellow team members while heroically manning his weapon in order to provide security as they moved to the helicopter landing zone.

“Everyone reacts differently to an injury,” Sergeant Williams said. “I just went back to the training I received and tried to do as best I could to make sure everyone got out of there. The job still has to get done. You can’t just stop, so I tried to do as much as I could and the best I could do it (given the situation).”

Another example of Airmen in the fight is Senior Airman Ashley Jackson. The deployed Eielson AFB, Alaska, Airman used her medic training to treat Soldiers she’s assigned with who were injured in an IED explosion to their mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle. (Airman renders combat first aid to Soldiers)

[Airman Jackson] checked the gunner’s airway, breathing and circulation; then she checked him for injuries. He didn’t need a tourniquet, but his leg had a femur fracture. To get him onto a backboard, Airman Jackson had to get him out of the turret.

“I gave him morphine to prepare him for the pain he was about to experience when we removed him from the turret,” Airman Jackson said. “I realigned his leg as best I could, trying not to cause any more damage.”

Capt. Darrick Lee wrote a fine end to the article:

It was not long, in fact only a few days, before Airman Jackson did just that, donning her body armor, grabbing her weapons and going on patrol outside the wire with the [Provincial Reconstruction Team] again. When asked how she felt about the remainder of her deployment in light of surviving an IED attack, she replied: “I need to take care of my brothers, and now I know I can do my job. The rest of this deployment is going to be OK.”

Some people associate aircraft – not ground-based Airmen – when thinking of the Air Force. They are also contributing to war effort with increased aerial mobility efforts (Mobility Airmen continue peak pace for Operation Enduring Freedom). Air Mobility Command aircraft carried more than 137,500 tons of cargo between April and September. In the same time period, tankers off-loaded 563 million pounds of fuel.

AMC set airdrop records throughout the summer: 3.2 million in June, 3.3 million in July, 3.8 million in August and 4.1 million in September. Air crews dropped an average of 1,065 cargo bundles a month for a projected total of 12,700 bundles for the year. In comparison, they dropped 5,675 bundles for all of 2007. They are also doing it with fewer sorties (a projected 435 for the year) compared to 538 in 2007.

Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol included a great quote that shows the appreciation for the Air Force from troops down range.

“The Air Force airdrops are providing needed support to Soldiers in the field; getting people and parts to our guys in the (forward operating bases) and in the mountains,” said Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 James Wright, deployed to Afghanistan from the 101st Airborne from Fort Campbell, Ky. “The Air Force is doing a great job and it’s great to have them out here.”  

Master Sgt. Russell P. Petcoff works in the Pentagon with Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs.

Bombs away! Airmen fight to rid deadly ordnance in Afghanistan

Troops supporting Operation Enduring Freedom trudge through Afghanistan, mindful that every move they make could be their last. They look in all directions to ensure a safe step. When an explosive iArmandoRoblesEODUSAFs found they know who to call — and it’s not ghostbusters…

Explosive Ordnance Disposal units seek and destroy bombs on a daily basis.

Dealing with the constant threat of a bomb detonating, two members of an Air Force explosive ordnance team took some time out to share with us, on DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable, their insight on their dangerous dealings with dismantling and destroying deadly bombs and how they’re doing away with them for good.

Staff Sgt. Armando Robles and Airman 1st Class Rileigh Woodward are EOD members deployed with the 755th Air Expeditionary Group at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan (under the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing). The Airmen are well aware of the daunting tasks they must face each day, they are ready and able to support any mission that comes their way.

Always in harm’s way, the EOD teams are spread across Afghanistan to be ready at a moment’s notice to isolate and destroy threats against the troops. An arsenal of weapons caches and many times the makers and distributors are captured within the mountains, ground terrain and bunkers. The EOD teams must also deal with numerous amounts of Russian ordnance from prior conflicts in Afghanistan.

The team is not there just to “blow things up” as some might think. They are also deeply dedicated to the Counter IED mission — Finding the suppliers and creators, and getting the Afghans to come on board with the mission in getting them to not support the guys who are making the bombs.

Through biometrics, data is continually being collected. Patterns are found. People are being caught. People are being detained.

The Airmen said they are helping the cause by getting rid of what’s causing it. Ideally, the EOD teams hope is to do away with bombs completely.

Check out Airman Robles in action during training at RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom before his deployment.

Click here for history and background information about EOD.

You can learn more from an article in Airman Magazine on the “Faceless Warriors“.

(Image above from Staff Sgt. Armando Robles’ Website.)