SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --
A Humvee rolls onto the grounds of Poinsett Electronic Combat Range, Wedgefield, South Carolina. Airmen wearing explosive ordnance disposal patches on their shoulders step out of the vehicle.
Assigned to nearby Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., the 20th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD Airmen are on a mission: clean up the range.
Using C-4 explosives, Airmen destroyed any remaining explosive materials in bomb dummy unit 33s and 50s, which are training munitions, so that the metal could be recycled and the range could be kept safe for the staff.
When EOD does demolitions at Poinsett, it ensures range crew members are safe while they switch out used aircraft targets, said Staff Sgt. Andrew Wright, 20th CES EOD equipment section chief.
The EOD Airmen also benefit from keeping Poinsett free of unspent munitions.
“It’s important for us to do range work so that we keep our demolition skills honed for when we go downrange to do combat operations,” said Senior Airman Chris Brown, 20th CES EOD journeyman. “It’s training for us.”
The 20th CES EOD flight cleans up Poinsett on a semiannual basis, not only keeping their own skills sharp, but also investing in a plot of land that provides many with the chance to polish their proficiencies and maintain readiness for the fight.
Maintaining the range allows agencies that use Poinsett to fulfill their training requirements, said Brown
The 20th Fighter Wing is one agency that uses the range; F-16CM Fighting Falcon pilots frequent Poinsett to practice dropping munitions.
“Pilots use a couple different targets out here for the BDU 33s,” said Brown. “They use the bigger targets downrange for their guided bombs, their 50s. They also have surface-to-air-missile sites that will lock on so they can train to avoid getting shot down during combat operations.”
Maintaining the range helps to sustain the explosive power of 20th FW Airmen. Approximately 25 units, including U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps units, use Poinsett to actively train for the fight, a crucial component to continuing to fly, fight and win.
The Airmen lay down brick after brick of C-4 explosives, filling trenches with enough to decimate all the leftover BDUs.
After driving a safe distance away from the blast radius, the Airmen call over the radio for the range to be cleared. A single Airman climbs a hill and yells, “Fire in the hole!” in all directions before pressing the button to trigger the explosion.