EOD tech awarded Bronze Star for blasting enemy plans

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Tech. Sgt. Michael Kiley loves beating insurgents at their own game -- they set the bombs with harmful intent and he renders them useless to protect lives.

To his credit, the 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight craftsman conducted more than 110 missions covering 68,000 square miles, including Kirkuk Air Base, Iraq, and five forward operating bases from September 2005 to January 2006. Within his 130 day deployment, the NCO destroyed more than 30 improvised explosive devices and 4,174 pounds of unexploded ordnance.

He also thwarted insurgent plans by rendering safe a dozen rockets and mortars aimed at the base, protecting the safety of more than 5,500 lives, wrote Master Sgt. Danton Humphries, 506th Air Expeditionary Group EOD operations NCOIC, in Sergeant Kiley's Letter of Evaluation. In addition, his nine-person EOD team maintained an injury-free record.

For his meritorious service in supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, Sergeant Kiley was awarded the Bronze Star Medal May 10.

"We had no worries working with Sergeant Kiley," said Senior Airman Matthew Guminiak, 52nd CES EOD journeyman who served with the NCO downrange. "He always ensured we worked as safely as possible while also operating quickly and efficiently. … It was fun and gratifying, destroying these ‘things' that could hurt others."

Air Expeditionary Force 7/8 was also different from his past eight or so deployments, said Sergeant Kiley.

On his prior tours, the EOD craftsman spent most of his 16-18 hour days destroying insurgent weapons caches and rockets and mortars found by U.S. and Coalition forces. Today, disarming improvised explosive devices -- many of which are now booby trapped with hidden additional explosives that detonate when people attempt to clear the known IED -- presented new dangers and constant challenges, he said.

One of the most difficult calls the NCO responded to involved an IED that exploded on a convoy. While working to ensure the area was safe from the threat of secondary explosions, he and his team found five more explosives set staggered on both sides of the road.

"Every call we get is different; every improvised explosive is different, and we must often improvise to get the job done. Working outside the base, providing Army support with the danger of being under fire by insurgents -- Sergeant Kiley definitely deserves this award," said Senior Master Sgt. David Ayers, 52nd CES EOD flight superintendent and a 2005 Bronze Star Medal recipient.

To ensure team safety before heading downrange, Sergeant Kiley shared the field knowledge he gained on his past deployments with his troops. He said he also shared his enjoyment of beating the insurgents at their own game by recording detailed information on every IED encountered so other EOD technicians and base officials could assess proper plans of action for future operations.

The 17-year veteran said he never anticipated his award or the recognition he received upon his return home.

"I think all EOD techs in all services, no matter what rank they are, should be awarded Bronze Stars. I'm ecstatic about the medal -- It's definitely the highlight of my military career," Sergeant Kiley said.