News: Fort Irwin EOD, Marines clear the way
Story by Spc. Zachary Gardner
FORT IRWIN, Calif. – Before the National Training Center was at Fort Irwin, it was home to anti-aircraft, rocket and tank ranges for nearly 40 years. As a result, a significant number of unexploded ordnance accumulated in the NTC training area.
Due to the high number of explosives left at Fort Irwin, a special team searches the NTC training area every month. The team will mark, label and identify the explosives they find on a map to ensure the safety of everyone who works at the NTC.
The information gathered from the team is then given to the 759th Ordnance Company (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) 3rd Ordnance Battalion, 71st Ordnance Group who gather, consolidate and dispose of as much of the dangerous material as possible. Last month, Marines from the 1st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 7th Engineer Battalion joined the 759th Soldiers for a joint range clearance operation at Fort Irwin, Calif., Oct. 24 – 27.
“It’s a dangerous job and there is no completely safe way of doing things,” said Capt. Bryan Sand, commander of the 759th OC. “But, we always do things the safest way possible. There are policies and publications in place that dictate what we can move, how we can dispose of it and what we can do it everything doesn’t go to plan.”
Traditionally, the focus of EOD training is the disposal of ordnance. But, over the past 10 years, the focus has shifted to combating improvised explosive devices because of the War on Terror. The range clearance training provided the servicemembers with the opportunity to work on general range clearance, ordnance identification and large scale demolition.
“It’s great training for us because we don’t get to do this that often,” said Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Daniel McCarthy of the 1st EOD Company. “Because of our deployment schedule and location, we just don’t get an opportunity to train like this very often.”
“The thrill of blowing something up and the knowledge of that we made the area safer for people to move through makes this a very rewarding job,” said Sand.
Working around explosives all the time isn’t for everyone. But, EOD service members love their jobs and can’t imagine doing anything else in the military.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Sand. “It’s like getting paid to be a kid. Everyone likes to light firecrackers and throw them when they are young. We get trained, very well, to be able to do that same thing in a very safe manner with hazardous materials.”
For more information about EOD, visit out the Special Operations Recruiting Battalion’s website at http://www.bragg.army.mil/sorb or call the 759th OC (EOD) at 760-380-4092.