NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Kingdom of Thailand – Royal Thai Air Force explosive ordnance disposal technicians conducted demolition range training, safely disposing of unusable ordnance rounds with U.S. Marines Feb. 20 at Wing One Royal Thai Air Force Base, Nakhon Ratchasima, Kingdom of Thailand, during Cobra Gold 2013.
Cobra Gold is a Thai-U.S. co-sponsored exercise and this year marks the 180th year of strong Thai-U.S. relations.
“I love working with the Thais. I couldn’t have met a friendlier fighting force,” said U.S. Marine Cpl. Jeremiah Isham, an aviation operations specialist with MAG-36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, who observed the training. “The people here are so easy to work with and it has been an unbelievable experience.”
The Thai and U.S. service members worked together during the training and learned from each other.
“The benefits (of working with the Thai people) are definitely tremendous,” said U.S. Marine Chief Warrant Officer Darryl L. Ellis, an EOD officer with MWSS-172. “It’s always good to get another perspective because a lot of our lessons in the EOD community have been learned through heartache and blood. If we can teach them something that can save their lives, then they can obviously teach us something that can save our lives.”
Service members utilized the nonelectric demolition method to safely dispose of 350 20 mm target practice rounds deemed unusable. The rounds were placed in a hole in the ground to help mitigate fragmentation. After placing the rounds in the ground, the Marines used a time fuse and C-4 to safely dispose of the rounds.
“When the ammo techs were preparing to load the rounds onto an F-18 they saw they had been corroded by moisture while inside the ammo can and were not safe to load into the gun of the jet,” said Ellis. “This deemed them unusable, so they gave them to us for disposal. We obviously cover a broad spectrum throughout the (Marine air-ground task force) and to be able to dispose of conventional ordnance is one of our number one priorities and number one jobs.”
The EOD technicians have a wide variety of other duties in addition to the proper disposal of ordnance.
“Whenever (the aircraft) are flying ordnance, we always have an EOD team standing by for any kind of misfire or malfunction or any kind of aircraft fire or accident,” said Ellis. “We’re ready to handle, disarm, remove or dispose of anything that would involve the ordnance that’s loaded on an aircraft.”
This training gave Marines and RTAF personnel an invaluable learning experience and showed participants another spectrum of the Marine Corps and the EOD field.
“It was an experience that a lot of people don’t get to do in the Marine Corps. It’s one of those chances that doesn’t happen very often,” said Isham. “It’s not always about roadside bombs. It’s about making ordnance safe and disposing of it. It was also nice that we were able to see them work with the Thais and I feel lucky to have been a part of it.”