HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
From unexploded munitions to chemical, biological and nuclear hazards, it's up to the 49th Civil Engineer Squadron’s explosive ordnance disposal flight to attenuate hazards posed by weapons or explosive materials.
EOD is one of the most dangerous jobs the Department of Defense has to offer. In order to ensure the safety of both civilians and service members living on base, these Airmen train to prepare for any situation they encounter.
“Our job as a whole can range anywhere from assisting the Secret Service in protecting the president and foreign dignitaries, to disposing explosives and assisting in airfield recovery,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jacob Breitbarth, 49th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD apprentice. “This is why our training days take precedence over any other section work that needs to be done.”
Among the variety of training exercises that the EOD flight conducts, chemical munition decontamination exercises are designed to test an EOD squad’s ability to prepare for and operate in an environment contaminated by a hazardous chemical spill, all while dressed in Mission Oriented Protective Posture gear.
“When we're doing this type of training, being in MOPP gear isn’t always going to be fun; you're hot, sweaty and you want to get out of it as quickly as possible,” said Breitbarth. “However, this training helps us understand what we should expect in these environments and do everything in the safest manner possible.”
For an EOD Airman, taking on the many risks that come with this career is no walk in the park, so the EOD flight has made it their top priority to ensure that both new and experienced Airmen are qualified to perform their job proficiently.
“I’ve been here a little over two months, yet I’ve learned a lot from watching the other Airmen run through training exercises, which helps in getting into the flow of how everything works in our shop,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Cody Mitchell, 49th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal apprentice. “It's nice to know that I can rely on our shop's NCOs and experienced Airmen to give me an answer to my questions.”
Teamwork in this career field isn’t just about getting the job done, in some cases it can also mean the difference between life and death.
“I'd say we probably have one of the best communities around which makes working at Holloman seem like I've got a second family here,” said Breitbarth. “Without trust, you're going to be second-guessing your teammates' decisions, causing the problem to last longer than it needs to and wasting time that could be crucial in detrimental situations.”
The EOD flight is a prime example of what multi-capable Airmen can do. Because of their dedication and skill in their career, Holloman can rest easy knowing they are in good hands.