ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --
Whether it’s a desert littered with improvised explosive devices or a small town storing a 150-pound munition, an explosive ordnance disposal technician has to be capable of locating, securing and disarming any type of explosive, anywhere.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians don’t rely on just their own wits and charm, they work with a team to ensure all incidents are handled properly. Countless hours of training and teamwork keep them prepared for any scenario thrown at them in the real world.
The 28th EOD Flight assigned to the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron hosted the first Team of the Year competition at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, Sept. 11 to 14.
“The competition encompasses eight different events that are all related to our nine mission areas,” said Staff Sgt. Andrew Nichols, an EOD technician and team leader assigned to the 28th CES. “It really increases the esprit de corps and morale, and enables people to get out of their normal routine and experience something different.”
During the week-long battery, four teams engaged in multiple events comprised of reconnaissance, disarmament of unexploded ordnances, and utilization of different disposal kits.
“This competition showcases our teams’ capabilities and limitations,” Nichols said. He went on to explain that Airmen may be forced into leadership roles while deployed if their team leader is incapacitated. Airmen were able to have hands-on guidance in real-world scenarios under the watchful eye of mentors with downrange experience.
There are nine mission areas that pertain to the EOD career field which technicians must understand and be proficient in, whether at home or deployed; these include countering weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapon response, and irregular warfare operations. These areas led to the creation of the eight different events during the competition. The events were scored on three different factors: timeliness, proper procedural techniques and comprehensive understanding.
“This event is a great opportunity to practice and hone our skills as EOD technicians,” said Airman 1st Class George Green, an EOD technician and team member assigned to the 28th CES. “This week we have been doing a lot of different events involving all of our different mission areas. It is a really great way to grow and actually showcase some of our skills.”
The winning EOD team will receive bragging rights and a placard that has their name listed on it for the year. This placard represents the goal of doing a yearly competition at the command level.
“Winning this competition really helps with bragging rights,” Green said. “It also gives us the chance to hold our heads a little bit higher when it comes to wearing our badge and showing proficiency in our job.”
For different careers, there are exercises hosted annually to recognize the best of the best. For EOD, there is no official Air Force Global Strike Command competition, but the 28th CES wants to change that.
“The objective behind this is that we are going to finalize [the event] locally,” Nichols said. “Refine a few of the details of the competition, and then increase, spread and open this event up to Air Force Global Strike Command. The east coast has a similar event called Llama Fury, so we would like to open this up to the entire Midwest to allow people to come in and participate in this competition.”