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Archive for the ‘EOD’ Category

Explosive Ordnance Disposal First Sergeant Earns U.S. Special Operations Command Award

Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

FORT BRAGG, N.C. – The senior enlisted leader for the U.S. Army’s only Explosive Ordnance Disposal company that supports the 75th Ranger Regiment earned the U.S. Special Operations Command Excalibur Award for NCO Leadership.

U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Chad O. Staples from the 28th Ordnance Company (EOD) (Airborne) was recognized for his service and leadership at the one-of-a-kind company.

The SOCOM commander established the Excalibur Award of Excellence to recognize enlisted leaders who demonstrate the “Warrior Ethos” with outstanding leadership, gallantry, integrity and moral courage during military operations or training.

Sgt. Maj. Shane W. Shorter, the U.S. Special Operations Command senior enlisted advisor, serves as the president of the Excalibur Award Board and the senior enlisted advisors from each of the SOCOM service components vote on the award.

The EOD first sergeant received the 2021 Excalibur Award in 2022 due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Staples earned the award for heroism during a compound clearance operation in Afghanistan. After an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated, he disregarded his own injuries to clear a safe path for 13 wounded U.S. and partner nation personnel. During the mission, Staples also identified three more pressure-plate IEDs and provided first aid to the wounded.

Maj. Stephen M. Knudsen, the commander of the 28th Ordnance Company (EOD) (Airborne), said it was a testament to Staples that SOCOM selected a noncommissioned officer from U.S. Army Forces Command and 20th CBRNE Command for the award.

“The company has hands down the best NCOs I’ve ever worked with,” said Knudsen, a native of Sutter Creek, California. “First Sgt. Staples is not only the company’s senior enlisted leader, he’s also a phenomenal example of the next-level leadership, mastery of craft and readiness to take the fight to the enemy that you see in every single NCO in this unit.”

Knudsen has known Staples since they were students at the EOD school more than 12 years ago when Knudsen was a 1st lieutenant and Staples was a sergeant.

“It was apparent then that he has a special, innate leadership quality about him and it’s paid huge dividends during his time as a leader at all levels in the 28th,” said Knudsen.

“In a unit that has had elements deployed in combat for the entirety of its existence, the NCO leaders are not just the backbone of the unit but the standard bearers who ensure the entire team is ready for war at a moment’s notice,” said Knudsen. “They provide motivation that keeps EOD techs moving forward to the sound of the guns. I’ve never seen Soldiers with more loyalty and trust in the first sergeant and it is 100 percent well-placed.”

A graduate of Cal Poly who has deployed to Iraq once and Afghanistan three times, Knudsen went to EOD school straight out of the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps Officer Basic Course. He said serving as the 28th EOD Company commander has been the highlight of his career.

“I enjoy working in dynamic environments and in a culture that places emphasis on problem solving and creative thinking,” said Knudsen. “I can’t think of another place in the Army that embraces those characteristics more than EOD. I can’t single out a moment in 28th as a highlight – they come every week. Just being in the building with these incredible NCOs is highlight enough. I already know I’m in the best job I’ll ever have.”

The Fort Bragg, North Carolina-based 28th EOD Company (Airborne) is part of the 192nd EOD Battalion, 52nd EOD Group and 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the U.S. military’s premier all hazards command.

American Soldiers and U.S. Army civilians from 20th CBRNE Command deploy from 19 bases in 16 states to take on the world’s most dangerous hazards in support of joint, interagency and allied operations.

Staples initially enlisted as a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) specialist with the Utah National Guard and served a Chemical Reconnaissance Detachment team leader in the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne).

He decided to become an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician and joined the active-duty U.S. Army in 2008.

“I have always had a desire to serve my country in the military but made the decision to go active as an EOD technician after talking to an Air Force EOD technician from Hill Air Force Base in Utah,” said Staples, a native of Riverton, Utah, who has deployed to Afghanistan eight times. “I felt that the 89D Military Occupation Specialty (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) would be technically demanding and fill a critical tactical role within the Global War on Terror.”

Staples spent his first deployment to Afghanistan in a conventional EOD company where he took photos and made assessments during IED post-blast analysis missions. Prior to joining the 28th EOD Company, he served with the 703rd EOD Company on Fort Knox, Kentucky, and the 759th EOD Company on Fort Irwin, California.

After being involved in multiple IED detonations and seeing the deaths of many coalition personnel and the destruction of many vehicles, Staples wanted to join an EOD company that was renowned for its professionalism and its ability to take the fight to the enemy.

Staples has served with the Fort Bragg, North Carolina-based 28th EOD Company for almost eight years.

“The 28th operates in a challenging, high-performance environment that demands consistently high standards. 28th EOD techs always operate in demanding roles while embedded with 75th Ranger Regiment. They are all specifically screened for a position within the company based on their ability to think critically while embroiled in life-or-death situations,” said Staples.

Built to support U.S. Army Rangers and other SOCOM units, the 28th EOD Company has quietly earned numerous awards during decades of combat operations. The unit’s EOD technicians have successfully conducted more than 5,200 operations in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan to date. During the Global War on Terrorism, 28th EOD Company Soldiers have earned 32 valorous awards, including two Distinguished Service Crosses and 21 Purple Hearts.

The 28th EOD Company first sergeant said his EOD techs must be able to think on their feet and respond to ever-changing circumstances in the crucible of combat.

“As a leader, it is crucial to assist all personnel in growing already specified characteristics,” said Staples, who added that he hopes to become an EOD Group command sergeant major in the future. “One of the most critical areas to continue the consistent individual and team success is a decentralized command. Done right, it can promote initiative and creativity.”

Staples said there were many highlights to earning the prestigious SOCOM leadership award.

“First and foremost, it highlighted the extremely dynamic and dangerous mission set that everyone in the company is tasked with,” said Staples. “There is always an air of mystery to the 28th EOD Company due to the classified nature of the mission set. This allowed conventional EOD a chance to see and hear a small snip of what everyone in the company is capable of accomplishing any time they are tasked.

“Along with showcasing the company, the opportunity for my family to attend the award ceremony was paramount,” said Staples. “Time and time again my wife and children have watched me leave, never knowing where I was going or what the missions entailed. They have been and always will be the foundation of who I am and why I serve in the military.”

By Walter Ham

Retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major Paved Way for EOD Technicians in Elite Special Forces Unit

Sunday, January 22nd, 2023

SOUTH FORK, Colo. – If you have spent much time on military-related social media platforms, you’ve probably seen some of the memes featuring a seasoned U.S. Army sergeant major with a Master Explosive Ordnance Disposal Badge and Combat Infantry Badge.

The Army EOD technician behind those memes is retired U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Mike R. Vining, one of the founding members of the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (Airborne) and one of the unit’s first EOD technicians.

The reason his Army career has gained so much attention is because Vining has participated in many of the American military operations that defined the latter part of the 20th century, as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician and an elite Special Forces Operator.

Growing up in Howard City, Michigan, Vining was interested in science and mountain climbing. He received chemistry sets for Christmas every year and earned the Grand Prize in a High School Science Fair for a Wilson Cloud Chamber. Vining was also a member of the Science Club and Chess Club and participated in wrestling and track.

Vining then watched a movie that changed the trajectory of his life.

“I saw a World War II movie about a British soldier disarming a large German bomb in an underground chamber in London, England,” said Vining. “I thought, wow, that must take a lot to disarm a large ticking bomb.”

At 17, not long after the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War, Vining went to an Army recruiting office and signed up to be an Ammunition Renovation Specialist with the plan of volunteering for EOD as soon as possible. After graduating from basic training camp at Fort Knox, Kentucky, he went to Ammunition Renovation School on Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, where he learned how to destroy unserviceable Code H ammunition during a course that was taught by EOD technicians.

He attended EOD training on Fort McClellan, Alabama, and Indian Head, Maryland, and graduated in May 1969.

While serving with the Technical Escort Unit at Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland, he volunteered to serve in Vietnam and he spent 11 months with the 99th Ordnance Detachment (EOD) in Phuoc Vinh, Vietnam, in an area west of Saigon and near the Cambodia border.

Two of the most memorable EOD operations of his career happened in 1970 when he participated in the destruction of the Rock Island East and Warehouse Hill enemy weapons and ammunition caches in Cambodia.

Vining was part of the seven-man Army EOD team that supported the 1st Cavalry Division mission to secure and destroy the largest weapons and ammunition cache discovered during the U.S. military’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

Named “Rock Island East” after the Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois, the enemy weapons cache had 932 individual weapons and 85 crew-served weapons as well as 7,079,694 small arms and machine gun rounds. The enemy cache also contained almost a thousand rounds of 85mm artillery shells that were used for the D-44 howitzer and the T-34 tank.

Vining and the EOD techs had to dodge enemy fire and endure biting red ants while working on the cache. After setting up “scare charges” to keep enemy forces out of the security perimeter, Vining made it on the helicopter in time to watch the explosion and see the mushroom cloud that was visible from 50 miles away. The seven Army EOD technicians at Rock Island East used 300 cases of C4 explosives to destroy 327 tons of enemy munitions.

During the operation to seize the cache site, 10 American Soldiers died and 20 were injured.

Later at the Warehouse Hill operation in Cambodia, the EOD team had to disarm booby traps and crawl into underground tunnels to place C4 explosives on 14 cache sites. Vining had to contend with large cave crickets, poisonous centipedes, spiders, bats and scorpions in the narrow tunnels. The teams used 120 cases of C4 explosives to destroy hundreds of thousands of enemy rounds.

After completing his tour in Vietnam, Vining left the Army and returned home to Michigan. He got a job at a plant that stamped out automotive body parts for Ford Motor Company and then became the lead employee on the third shift of the largest press in the plant, a 500-ton press.

“Although it was very good pay, I did not see myself doing this for 20 to 30 years,” said Vining. “In October of 1973, I saw my Army recruiter and asked to go back into the Army.”

The U.S. Army recruiter told Vining that he would have to serve as an EOD technician again, which was exactly what he wanted. He was assigned to the 63rd Ordnance Detachment (EOD) on Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

Vining was serving on a U.S. Secret Service support mission when his EOD supervisor, Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Ray Foster, Sr., was killed by an improvised explosive device at the Quincy Compressor Division Plant in Illinois, in 1976. Afterward, Vining thought it was time for a change.

“I decided to take Emergency Medical Technician training and following that I decided to volunteer to be a Special Forces medic,” said Vining. “I was getting out of EOD when my control sergeant major told me that they were forming a new Special Forces organization at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and that they were looking for six EOD techs.”

Vining called the number and flew to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for an interview with Col. “Chargin’ Charlie” Beckwith, the founder of the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta. Beckwith envisioned the concept that the U.S. Army should have a counterterrorism unit like the British Special Air Service.

“Two weeks later, I was one of four Army EOD techs to start the Operator Training Course 1,” said Vining. “Only two of us made it through. The second person was (retired Sgt. Maj.) Dennis E. Wolfe.”

One of the unit’s first operations was the clandestine mission to rescue 53 American hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran. Known as Operation Eagle Claw, the rescue mission was cancelled after the loss of three helicopters during a sandstorm at the staging site known as Desert One. While the aircraft were leaving the Desert One staging area, a RH-53D helicopter crashed into the transport aircraft that Vining and his team was on.

The helicopter rotor chopped into the top of the fuel-laden aircraft and a fireball shot by Vining and his team. As the EC-130E “Bladder Bird” was engulfed in flames and munitions cooked off around them, Vining and his teammates made it off the aircraft. Vining and his team got on another aircraft with faulty landing gear and just enough fuel to make it across the water to safety.

During the Desert One aircraft collision, eight American troops were killed and both aircraft were destroyed.

Joint Special Operations Command was created as a result of the investigation that followed the ill-fated rescue mission.

In October 1983 during Operation Urgent Fury, when U.S. forces invaded the Caribbean Island of Grenada following the pro-Cuban coup there, Vining was on a rescue team sent to free political prisoners at the Richmond Hill Prison.

His Blackhawk helicopter came under intense enemy anti-aircraft fire on approach to the prison facility and the mission had to be delayed.

The political prisoners were released before a second mission was launched.

After seven years of serving with distinction in Delta Force, Vining accepted an assignment with the 176th Ordnance Detachment (EOD) on Fort Richardson, Alaska. He made the move to be more promotable within the EOD community and to be close to the mountains of the 49th state.

While in Alaska, he maintained his proficiency for EOD missions and later came back to twice climb the 20,310-foot Mount Denali, the highest mountain in North America.

Within one year, he was back at the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, where he would serve in Operation Desert Storm. Although his EOD duties didn’t change, Vining switched to infantry during this time to make himself more promotable within the elite Special Forces unit.

During this second 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta tour, Vining also participated in Operation Pocket Planner during a Federal Penitentiary prison riot in Atlanta in 1987.

Vining would later serve at the Joint Special Operations Command as an exercise planner and J-3 Special Plans sergeant major. He was the Joint Special Operations Task Force senior enlisted advisor aboard the aircraft carrier USS America (CV 66) during Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti.

The sergeant major also served as an explosive investigator on the task force that investigated the 1996 Khobar Tower bombing in Dharan, Saudi Arabia, and he used the lessons learned from that attack to help hardened U.S. installations around the world.

During nearly three decades in uniform, Vining earned the Combat Infantry Badge, Master Explosive Ordnance Disposal Badge, Parachutist Badge, Military Free Fall Parachutist Badge and Austrian Police High Alpine “Gendarmerie-Hochalpinist” Badge.

Vining racked up a huge stack of medals and ribbons that include the Legion of Merit Medal, Bronze Star Medal, two Defense Meritorious Service Medals, Army Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, two Joint Service Achievement Medals and the Army Achievement Medal. He also earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology from the University of the State of New York.

Vining said he was glad when the U.S. Army established the 28th Ordnance Company (EOD) (Airborne) to support U.S. Army Ranger and Special Forces missions around the world, as well as the two Airborne Platoons of the 722nd Ordnance Company (EOD) and 767th Ordnance Company (EOD) to support the 82nd Airborne Division’s Immediate Response Force mission.

The Fort Bragg, North Carolina-based companies are all part of 192nd EOD Battalion, 52nd EOD Group and 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the U.S. military’s premier all hazards command.

Vining said that the Kirtland Air Force Base New Mexico-headquartered 21stOrdnance Company (EOD WMD) was another welcome addition to the U.S. Army EOD units. The highly specialized company is part of the 71st EOD Group and 20th CBRNE Command.

From 19 bases in 16 states, Soldiers and U.S. Army civilians from 20th CBRNE Command take on the world’s most dangerous hazards in support of joint, interagency and allied operations.

“In my time, Army EOD was viewed as Combat Service Support, but in reality, Army EOD is Combat Support and has always been that way and that means supporting Special Operations and Airborne forces,” said Vining.

Vining said the key to success in the EOD profession is noncommissioned officer (NCO) leadership and mentorship.

“Mentorship is one of the duties of a senior NCO,” he said.

The Army EOD community marked its 80th anniversary in 2022 and NCOs have played a critical role in the EOD profession since its inception. Led by noncommissioned officers, EOD teams often serve on their own in austere environments, covering vast operational areas.

Vining also encouraged EOD techs to seek help for both the seen and unseen scars of war that come with the profession.

“I believe if you spend a career in EOD that you will witness severe injuries and death,” he said. “EOD is an inherently dangerous career but it is also a very rewarding career knowing you have eliminated a hazardous situation.

“If you are suffering from events that you were involved in, you are not alone in dealing with this kind of trauma. I encourage you to open up and just talk about it to a fellow EOD tech or an EOD veteran,” said Vining. “From World War II to the present, we have all witnessed the horrors of war and even the dangerous job we do in peacetime.”

In January 1999, Vining retired from the U.S. Army and married his wife Donna Ikenberry, a hiking guidebook author, professional wildlife photographer and freelance photojournalist. They were engaged at the top of Mount Rainer in Washington and exchanged wedding vows on Mauna Kea, the highest mountain in Hawaii.

Today, they live together in South Fork, Colorado, where Vining continues to enjoy spelunking, skiing, rock climbing and mountaineering. He also remains active in the veteran’s community.

Vining was inducted into the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps Hall of Fame in 2018.

When he hung up his highly decorated uniform after nearly three decades of service, Vining said he never knew that his storied career would later launch a tidal wave of memes.

“I do not know how any of the memes got started,” said Vining. “One of my grandchildren saw that someone even did a Pokémon card on me.”

By Walter Ham

Accomplished EOD Soldier Now Serves as Army Golden Knight

Friday, December 23rd, 2022

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — A U.S. Army explosive ordnance disposal Soldier made a grand entrance into the Army-Navy game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Dec. 10.

Staff Sgt. Devin T. Diaz jumped into the stadium during the pre-game activities as a member of the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team.

A native of Sunnyvale, California, Diaz previously served in the 47th Ordnance Company (EOD) on Fort Hood, Texas, and the 759th Ordnance Company (EOD) on Fort Irwin, California.

Both EOD companies are part of the 71st EOD Group and 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the U.S. military’s premier all hazards formation. From 19 bases on 16 states, Soldiers and U.S. Army civilians from 20th CBRNE Command take on the world’s most dangerous hazards in support of joint, interagency and allied operations.

Diaz later served in the U.S. Army Asymmetric Warfare Group on Fort Meade, Maryland, as an EOD advisor. He was the first staff sergeant to make it through the Operational Advisor Training Course in the history of the group.

Diaz decided to become an EOD technician while serving with the military police in Afghanistan on a Counter Improvised Explosive Device team. He was selected for the EOD program in 2011.

He has deployed to Afghanistan three times, including two deployments with Military Police and one as an EOD team leader. He also deployed with the 759th EOD Company to Syria.

From range clearance operations at the National Training Center on Fort Irwin, California, to defeating improvised explosive devices in a combat zone, Diaz has honed his lifesaving and mission-enabling skills. In one of many unique missions in Afghanistan, as an EOD team leader with the 47th EOD Company, Diaz conducted post-blast analysis on 15 trucks that had been destroyed by insurgents with improvised explosive devices.

While serving in the 759th EOD Company, Diaz was also a member of the winning Bomb Squad team in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-hosted competition called Urban Shield that brought together California SWAT teams, Fire and Rescue Teams, Emergency Medical Services and Bomb Techs.

He said it takes perseverance to succeed as an Army EOD technician.

“The more resilient that you can be, the better an EOD tech you can be,” said Diaz.

Earlier this year, Diaz demonstrated this kind of resilience when he tore his patellar tendon. After having surgery in February, Diaz was told it would take six to eight months before he could run or jump again.

He started running again four months later and participated in a half marathon six months later. On Oct. 9, he jumped into the Army Ten Miler in Washington, D.C., and then ran the race. He said he intends to participate in the Miami Marathon and he is preparing for an ultramarathon in the future.

Diaz was picked for the Golden Knights during the 2020 assessment and selection. Any American Soldier can apply to serve in the Golden Knights if they have completed 75 free fall jumps, either in the military or as a civilian.

Since the team’s inception, the Golden Knights have participated in 16,000 events in 50 states and 48 countries. With 50 jumpers and 50 support personnel, the teams travel roughly 240 days out of every year. They are one of three U.S. Department of Defense-sanctioned aerial demonstration teams, together with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

As a Golden Knight, Diaz has landed at sports venues and community events around the nation.

From landing on the aircraft carrier USS Midway Museum in San Diego to jumping into Yankees Stadium in New York City, Diaz has participated in 40 different events during his two years as a member of the Golden Knights’ Gold Team.

The highlight of his jumps so far has been landing on the field before the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Chargers game, Nov. 13.

“I got to jump into my hometown stadium,” said Diaz, who has served in the U.S. Army for almost 17 years. “Not only did I get to do that, but my wife and my father were on the field when I landed.”

Command Sgt. Maj. David J. Silva, the senior enlisted leader from the 71st Ordnance Group (EOD), said Diaz personifies the high caliber of Soldiers serving in the Army EOD community.

“He is a consummate professional who never stops seeking and conquering the next challenge. Whether its disarming IEDs in Syria, improving the Army’s ability to counter asymmetric threats or now supporting recruiting as a member of the elite Golden Knights, he’s an example of what you can achieve if you refuse to get comfortable,” said Silva, a master EOD technician from Long Beach, California, who is the senior enlisted leader for the EOD group that commands all U.S. Army EOD Soldiers stationed west of the Mississippi River.

“He proves EOD isn’t just a military occupational specialty. It’s a profession that gives you the skills to succeed in any venture. We have bomb techs who are working with industry partners and civilian agencies, flying planes and helicopters, ship captains in the Army’s sea fleet and working in Congressional fellowships. We offer complex training under high pressure situations with caring leaders to ensure mission success. That success doesn’t stop in the Army, it carries over to life,” said Silva. “It’s not just a job, it’s a calling that doesn’t stop at the bomb.”

By Walter Ham

AirBoss Defense Group Receives $40.6 Million in Orders for Husky 2G Vehicles

Tuesday, November 8th, 2022

New Contracts Will Support User Survivability, Route Clearance and Threat Detection

JESSUP, Md., Nov. 07, 2022 — AirBoss Defense Group (“ADG”), a subsidiary of AirBoss of America Corp. (“AirBoss”) today announced that it continues to build business momentum with a $35 million order for ten (10) Husky 2G counter-improvised explosive device (“C-IED”) vehicles. The vehicles will be equipped with a full complement of detection systems and periphery subsystems including ground penetrating radar (“GPR”), M20 Interrogation Arms, Rollover Detection Systems, thermal cameras and RPG-defeat netting. ADG is also responsible for providing comprehensive operator and maintainer training as well as spare parts and sustainment supplies to the customer. Delivery of the vehicles will take place over the next 16 months.

Furthermore, ADG, through its partner, DCD Protected (“DCD”), will be providing three (3) Husky 2G C-IED vehicles, peripheral detection and survivability systems to support a customer in West Africa, valued at up to $5.6 million. ADG and DCD will also be providing spare parts and sustainment supplies as well as comprehensive operator and maintainer training. This contract, with deliveries taking place over the next six months, will provide a critical, best-in-class route clearance and threat detection and interrogation capability that will aid in the ongoing war on terror and efforts to counter a growing extremist threat in the region.

Patrick Callahan, CEO of AirBoss Defense Group said, “AirBoss Defense Group is growing its worldwide leadership in survivability solutions, ranging from IED detection to high-risk environment personal protective equipment. The Husky 2G is a cornerstone product in our portfolio of survivability solutions and is the most survivable vehicle available on the battlefield, providing unparalleled route clearance capabilities to U.S allies around the world. ADG welcomes the opportunity to continue our long partnership with DCD to provide the proven and tested Husky 2G vehicle in support of global route clearance missions.”

These new orders build upon previous U.S. and foreign government procurement from ADG of Husky 2G C-IED vehicles, equipment, spare parts, and training to counter growing IED and landmine threats around the globe. ADG and DCD vehicles enable a rapid response to the growing international demand for proven route clearance and survivability solutions delivered by ADG. Built with a unique V-shaped hull and modular design, the Husky 2G C-IED protects operators from blast impacts, small arms fire, and challenging terrain while supporting sensor systems for threat detection, identification, and mitigation.

The two-operator Husky 2G clearance vehicle was developed to meet the operational requirement for longer, more complex, mounted clearance missions and the employment of more sophisticated vehicle payloads. Recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense as a U.S. Army Top Ten Invention, the 2G platform addresses evolving explosive threats while applying operationally proven survivability capabilities.

For more information, please visit www.adg.com.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Soldiers Sharpen Special Forces Support Skills in Danger Zone

Monday, October 24th, 2022

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians are sharpening their ability to operate with some of the nation’s most elite warriors in a bunker on Fort Campbell, Kentucky, called the Danger Zone Training Complex.

EOD Soldiers from the 52nd Ordnance Group (EOD) are leveraging the expertise of the training cadre at the specialized facility to prepare for deployments in support of U.S. Army Special Forces units and conventional ground forces.

The Fort Campbell, Kentucky-based 52nd EOD Group commands all Active-Duty U.S. Army EOD units east of the Mississippi River, including two EOD battalions and 14 EOD companies on Army installations in Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and New York.

The 52nd EOD Group is part of the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the U.S. military’s premier all hazards command. The 20th CBRNE Command is home to 75 percent of the Active-Duty U.S. Army’s EOD technicians and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) specialists, as well as the 1st Area Medical Laboratory, CBRNE Analytical and Remediation Activity, five Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordination Teams and three Nuclear Disablement Teams.

American Soldiers and U.S. Army civilians from 20th CBRNE Command deploy from 19 bases in 16 states to confront and defeat the world’s most dangerous hazards in support of joint, interagency and allied operations.

Master Sgt. Brandon K. Barenie from the 52nd EOD Group Training Cell said the Danger Zone training cadre includes two senior Army EOD noncommissioned officers and civilian contractors who provide subject matter expertise.

“We operate within and take tasking from the 52nd EOD Group S3 Operations Section yet may work directly with battalions and companies when appropriate,” said Barenie.

According to Barenie, the support team provides training in EOD, chemical, nuclear, maneuver unit integration, Special Forces support operations, exercise design, counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems and sensitive site exploitation, as well as threat guidance research, scheduling and coordinating training evolutions and constructing and fabricating training aids.

As the U.S. Army’s explosive experts, EOD technicians are trained to take on everything from a hand grenade to a nuclear weapon while conducting explosive mitigation missions in support of military operations around the world and domestic authorities across the nation.

U.S. Army EOD units from 20th CBRNE Command deploy to the U.S. Central Command and U.S. Africa Command areas of operations while supporting U.S. Indo-Pacific Command exercises and Defense Support to Civil Authorities missions for U.S. Northern Command.

Army EOD Soldiers respond when military munitions are discovered, both on and off post. In 2021 alone, Army EOD technicians from 20th CBRNE Command EOD units participated in 1,415 explosive mitigation missions on military installations and 276 missions off base.

Today, Army EOD technicians are training and preparing to support ground forces during large-scale combat operations against a near-peer adversary.

U.S. Army EOD Soldiers also routinely support the U.S. Secret Service and Department of State during Very Important Person Protection Support Activity missions by helping to protect the president, first lady, vice president and foreign heads of states.

Previously a critical communications and security facility called The Voice, the Danger Zone provides a unique venue for the EOD techs to hone their lifesaving and mission-enabling skills. The facility also provides advanced marksmanship and combat skills training to keep EOD Soldiers on target.

“These training opportunities enhance our group’s ability to employ technically and tactically proficient Soldiers in support of any combatant commander,” said Barenie.

By Walter T. Ham IV

Poster # 4 – Frangible Ammo for Robotic Ordnance Disposal

Wednesday, October 19th, 2022

This is the fourth installment of a multi-week effort to share examples of posters which were presented during the recent Future Force Capabilities Conference presented by the National Defense Industrial Association in Austin, Texas. I’ll let them speak for themselves.

As always, the contact info is on the poster.

PEO Soldier Evaluates the Next Generation Advanced Bomb Suit

Saturday, July 9th, 2022

SSG Nikolas Brodock, an Explosive Ordinance (sic) Disposal Specialist with 55th EOD CO, conducts a series of tests to evaluate the function of the Next Generation Advanced Bomb Suit (NGABS) during a Soldier Touch Point at Ft. Belvior, VA., June 1, 2022. The NGABS increases Soldier readiness to respond to evolving threats by providing EOD Soldiers with 360° ballistic protection and drastically increasing situational awareness.

Highly Decorated EOD Technician Retires from Elite Unit after Recovering from Paralysis

Thursday, June 16th, 2022

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — The most highly decorated explosive ordnance disposal, or EOD, technician in the history of an elite U.S. Army airborne EOD company recently retired after recovering from a combat-related gunshot wound that paralyzed him from the chest down.

Sgt. 1st Class Jeffery M. Dawson completed his legendary career with the 28th Ordnance Company (EOD), the Army’s only Special Operations-focused EOD company with handpicked and highly trained EOD Soldiers who support direct action missions around the world.

The Fort Bragg, North Carolina-based 28th EOD Company (Airborne) is part of the 192nd EOD Battalion, 52nd EOD Group and 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the U.S. military’s premier all hazards formation.

In an Army EOD community first, 75th Ranger Regiment Commander Col. Jim “JD” Kiersey and Command Sgt. Maj. Curt D. Donaldson attended his ceremony and upgraded Dawson’s status from an “honorary member” to a “distinguished member” of the Ranger Regiment.

Part of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, the 75th Ranger Regiment is the U.S. Army’s premier direct action light infantry force. The regiment can deploy one Ranger Battalion to hotspots around the world within 18 hours of notification.

A seasoned combat veteran who is originally from Coalville, Utah, Dawson deployed to Iraq with the 722nd EOD Company before being selected for the 28th EOD Company. During his six years with the 28th EOD Company, Dawson deployed to Afghanistan seven times.

Dawson said EOD technicians safeguarded forces and enabled operations during the Global War on Terror by confronting and defeating the enemy’s preferred weapon — the improvised explosive device. EOD forces have rendered safe more than 100,000 improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2006 and have trained thousands of host nation forces.

“During the Global War on Terror, IEDs and other complex explosive devices were at an all-time high. Many maneuver elements relied heavily on the skill and competency of EOD technicians. Not just from the Army but all services. Often times, the elements would embed EOD as an organic asset,” said Dawson. “I often overheard many members of the elements we’ve supported say that they would never go outside of the wire without EOD on the manifest. That’s what makes EOD techs so important to the military.”

During his career, Dawson defeated hundreds of explosive devices and earned the Purple Heart for combat injuries twice.

“As an EOD tech, the most memorable missions stand out because they were either really good or really bad,” said Dawson. “Working with special operations forces, you often find yourself in situations where the outcome can sway in either direction in a moment’s notice.”

The missions that stand out the most for Dawson are the one where he earned the nation’s second highest military medal, the Distinguished Service Cross, and the mission that nearly ended his life and left him paralyzed from the chest down.

In Afghanistan on Oct. 5, 2013, Dawson participated in a mission to capture or kill a high value Taliban leader who was planning terror attacks.

“The IED threat was low and it was supposed to be a quick easy target,” Dawson said. “Upon infiltration everything changed in minutes.”

A fleeing insurgent detonated an explosive and killed a team member and the team’s multi-purpose canine, Jani.

Dawson soon realized that his team was surrounded by pressure plate IEDs. He halted the mission, located the improvised explosive devices and aided in the evacuation of dead and wounded Soldiers. Four U.S. Soldiers were killed by explosive devices during the mission.

Although seriously injured during two different explosions, Dawson worked in limited visibility to locate three confirmed pressure plate IEDs and six additional suspected devices. He then cleared a path to evacuate the fallen and wounded Soldiers.

On Feb. 17, 2015, then-Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel B. Allyn presented the Distinguished Service Cross to Dawson during a ceremony on Fort Benning, Georgia. Sgt. Bryan C. Anderson, the Ranger Platoon medic on the same mission, also received the Distinguished Service Cross during the ceremony. The 75th Ranger Regiment submitted them for the award.

On another mission in Afghanistan in July 2019, Dawson was shot and seriously wounded.

“When I was shot, it came in my right arm and came to rest upon impacting and fracturing my left shoulder blade, collapsing both lungs and exposing my spinal cord in the process,” said Dawson. “I’m thankful for the expertise of the medic that performed life-saving treatment which allowed me the opportunity to live despite all odds.”

The medic saved Dawson by using a chest tube to inflate his collapsing lungs.

Dawson was medically evacuated to Germany for surgery and then to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. He moved next to James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa, Florida, a facility that specializes in spinal injuries.

Working with physical therapists and using the tough and tenacious “never quit” approach that made him successful on the battlefield, Dawson stood again and then he walked again.

Less than a year after being severely wounded, Dawson took on 5K and walked 3.1 miles unassisted. Since then, he has completed a 6.2-mile walk and a triathlon with a quarter-mile swim, 11-mile bike ride and 3.1 mile walk without assistive devices.

“The key to my recovery was mostly mental,” said Dawson. “I lost control of everything from the chest down, with that I lost any physical conditioning prior to my injury. I essentially had to start over as a newborn in a 33-year-old man’s body.

“Since I am still trying to relearn everything, I have to keep a positive mental attitude so I can continue to progress,” said Dawson.

After returning home to North Carolina, Dawson has taken time to focus on healing the visible and invisible scars from multiple combat missions. “I still remain active as much as I can,” said Dawson. “I enjoy hunting, fishing, hiking and other outdoor activities that get my heart pumping. In the future, I would like to complete a mud run.”

He has enrolled in college and he is looking for opportunities to help other veterans.

Dawson said the highlight of his career was being recognized by the 75th Ranger Regiment for actions on the battlefield.

“I was surrounded by people who wanted to be there,” said Dawson. “It has been an honor working with the 75th Ranger Regiment. Their expertise and professionalism set the standard for others to look up to.

“What makes the 28th a great company is that it is filled with specially selected and well trained Soldiers who will never accept defeat and never fail to complete the mission. Soldiers who have the willingness to shoulder more than their share of the task, whatever it may be, one hundred percent and then some,” said Dawson. “To be successful in the 28th, you need to be in shape, comfortable working autonomously, intelligent, and most importantly, you must be trainable.”

Maj. Stephen M. Knudsen, the commanding officer of the 28th EOD Company, said his company has always relied on the expertise, grit and determination of noncommissioned officers like Dawson to support Special Forces units at the tip of the spear around the world.

“The 28th is a one-of-a-kind formation with forward elements continuously deployed throughout the entirety of its 13-year history,” said Knudsen. “It provides a painfully light and disproportionally lethal airborne EOD capability to the 75th Ranger Regiment and Special Operations Command during crisis response, raid and joint forcible entry operations.”

Knudsen, a 14-year veteran from Sutter Creek, California, has deployed to Iraq once and Afghanistan three times. The 28th EOD Company commander said Dawson had never let his heroic deeds and storied service in the Explosive Ordnance Disposal community go to his head.

“The thing that stands out about Sgt. 1st Class Dawson is how approachable and down to earth he is,” said Knudsen. “He’s a legend in the career field, yet he’s such a light hearted, funny and genuine person. If there was anyone who has earned the right to be super arrogant or macho, it’s him, but instead you’re greeted by a humble guy with a warm grin wearing a cat shirt.”

By Walter T. Ham IV