'Here comes the boom'
By Senior Master Sgt. Burke Baker, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 23, 2014
SOUTHWEST ASIA --
Although it is a job that has been glorified by Hollywood in recent years, the men and women who have earned the right to call themselves Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians know that the job is anything but.
It's flat out hard work.
With temperatures reaching into the mid-90s on a supposedly "spring-like" day, the EOD technicians from the 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron rolled up to the barren, dusty, windswept range they were going to be working. It certainly seemed like the middle of nowhere.
On this particular mission, the Airmen worked with their Army counterparts to dispose of thousands of pounds of explosives that had reached the end of their shelf life.
"We usually have more stuff than this," said Senior Master Sgt. Chuck Price, the EOD team's superintendent as he eyed the workload.
It still seemed like an impressive amount of ordnance.
This large scale disposal range work is the bread and butter of operations for the 386th EOD team. The scale of which is unique in the area.
"We have a unique mission supporting joint and coalition large-scale disposal operations," said Staff Sgt. Paul Orosz Jr., an EOD journeyman technician. "Other bases [in the area of responsibility] send EOD technicians here to gain that experience. I get to train with EOD from our sister services and blowup thousands of pounds of explosives at a time. It couldn't get much better than that."
One could hardly imagine arguing this brand of logic.
Orosz, a native of Ashville, Alabama, is deployed to the 386th from the 52nd CES, based at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. The deployment is the second for the five year Air Force veteran.
"We have very limited opportunities for [unexploded ordnance] and disposals at my home-station," he said. "We frequently respond to UXOs on or around The Rock, and the explosive operations here greatly exceed my home-station explosive limits."
Airman 1st Class Keith Bochert who hails from Talmadge, Ohio, says the large scale demo operations are his favorite part of the mission here.
"My home station is Patrick AFB. At Patrick, we have very little aircraft and don't have a range to perform large scale demolition on," he said.
EOD qualified military members are the only designated and authorized personnel within the Air Force organized, trained and equipped to analyze, mitigate and defeat threats from hazardous explosive ordnance and criminal/terrorist Improvised Explosive Devices.
This team has been busy. Since their arrival in January, the EOD Airmen have disposed of more than 200,000 items and 30,000 pounds of propellant during their range operations. They have also responded to five unexploded ordnance calls on or near The Rock and one suspicious package.
As they hurried about rigging explosive charges to today's disposal operation, it was obvious that they were both very practiced and very professional. It was also obvious that this special breed of Airman loved what they do.
"I've really enjoyed working with our sister services and the host-nation military," said Orosz. "We each bring different experiences to the table and compound those experiences to make for safer range operations."
"EOD is the best career field in the Air Force; full of the best people," said Bochert.
A safe distance away from the now rigged munitions, a bomb tech shouted "fire in the hole" and pressed the button on the remote detonator. A smile of satisfaction spread across several of their faces as they watched their day's work go up in smoke...literally.