MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Bending over a mass of wires with beads of sweat running down his head, and the clock counting down …3…2 — his hands begin to shake.
Thoughts run through his head. Is it the blue wire or the red?
He clips the red wire and the clock freezes at 1.
It’s an all too familiar movie scene with the hero saving the lives of many, as he disassembles a bomb with one second left and everyone is saved.
The Explosive Ordnance Disposal team in essence does just that. They regularly put their lives on the line to prevent injury or death to others. Their mission is to locate, identify, render safe, transport and dispose of hazards beyond the normal capabilities of a unit that pose a threat to personnel, installations or equipment worldwide.
To become an EOD Technician, a Marine must attend an eight-month joint military occupational specialty school at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
“The school covers principles and theories of explosives, safeties, demolition procedures, tools and methods for conducting ‘render safe’ procedures,” said Gunnery Sgt. Kelly Crawford, EOD operations chief. “Then there’s the ground ordnance division, which covers U.S. and foreign ordnance. In your first day of ground ordnance you can learn about more than 60 different hand grenades.”
In addition to ground ordnance, Marines learn about U.S. and foreign projectiles, rockets and land mines. Other parts of the school are air ordnance division, which deals with aircraft explosive hazards, such as bombs, dispensers, payloads and guided missiles. Then there’s the biological and chemical ordnance division that deals with both U.S. and foreign biological and chemical ammunition. They also learn improvised explosive devices and nuclear ordnance division procedures.
While EOD units are stateside they continuously train both in the classroom and in the field.
“Training consists of the IED defeat one class,” said Crawford. “We run the Marines through the IED lanes to give them awareness of what they might see in country, how an IED looks in place, and some of the indicators. We also assist the EOD technicians in developing teamwork concepts. We go over tools and equipment, and demolition and disposal.”
While deployed EOD units assist in numerous missions receiving an average of six to 10 calls a day.
“When units are in support of OIF [Operation Iraqi Freedom], their mission is locating, identifying and the rendering safe of roadside bombs, vehicle borne IEDs and IEDs placed throughout country to kill and injure coalition forces,” said Crawford.
Becoming an EOD technician, which is a voluntary MOS, does have certain requirements Marines should look into if they are considering a lateral move into the field.
Marines must be E-3 through E-5. A Marine needs to have a GT score of 110 or better and must be willing to extend or re-enlist to have 36 months of obligated service. A Marine is required to be 21 years of age, eligible for a security clearance, a U.S. citizen, and have normal color vision and no claustrophobic tendencies. They must also be prescreened by an EOD officer and staff noncommissioned officer, according to the Marine Administrative Directive 150/05.
While being an EOD technician is a fast-paced job, it is one that can be fulfilling.
“It’s extremely rewarding ultimately knowing that what you do saves the lives of Marines and civilians around the world,” said Crawford, who has been in the job field for around six years.
While the number of Marines who work with EOD is small, they play a huge part in the big picture of everything. Marines both overseas and stateside rely on these Marines to identify and disassemble bombs placed to prevent them from accomplishing their mission.