Fire in the hole

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Sergio A. Gamboa
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
With a 60-pound rucksack and weapon in hand, the Airmen walk in staggered formation, sweat pouring down their faces, determined to learn how to stay alive. Today it is training. Tomorrow it will be for real.

The 325th Fighter Wing explosive ordinance disposal unit, whose job it is to provide support during aircraft emergencies and wherever an explosive hazard exists, trains twice a week in multiple areas to stay current with the constant changes in enemy strategy.

During a recent simulated mission, the EOD technicians marched cautiously to their training area as if they were deployed.

"Contact left," yelled the seven-man group leader. Everyone dropped down to the prone position, focusing their weapons to the left as if there were enemies in the area.

"The reason why we always train, whether it's a 60-pound ruck sack, disarming an improvised explosive device, or participating in simulated missions, is to be prepared," said Tech. Sgt. Phillip Dyer, 325th Fighter Wing EOD craftsmen. "That physical exertion and being out of shape, alone, can kill you."

Not everyone that goes into the EOD career field makes it through training. Some even enter the line of work not knowing exactly what the job consists of or without a passion for the job.

"You don't want someone watching your back, who doesn't want to do their job," said Staff Sgt. Darius Bailey, 325th Fighter Wing EOD apprentice. "If you're not going to enjoy it, it's not for you, and it's not for everybody."

Less than one percent of the military is in the career field and the ones who are, make a difference, said Bailey.

"You have to work as a team, and if you can't get along, then it's not going to be a cohesive unit," said Dyer. "In a career field like ours, you don't have to like everyone, but when it comes down to it, we work with whoever we have to and get the job done."

During the training mission, the Airmen found an IED and cordoned a safe zone in order to disarm it. Three Airmen took watch and kept an eye out for the enemy. As they kept watch, a loud gunshot-like sound went off and an Airman was simulated being shot, they quickly performed self-aid buddy care on him and led him to safety.

"You have to like the job to do it, because if you know you don't like your job, it's probably time to hang it up," said Dyer. "You never know if your next deployment will be your last."

After the IED was disarmed, the team had successfully completed their mission.

"It is about knowing that every bomb that is disarmed, every IED that is rendered safe, is saving somebody's life, whether it's another military member or civilian's life," Dyer said. "For me it's all about how many lives are saved and that's why I do it."