EOD makes bombs go boom

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Hailey Staker
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Today, the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordinance Disposal flight supports and responds to a variety of response requests within the entire state of South Dakota, as well as portions of Wyoming, Nebraska and Montana within a 200 mile radius of Ellsworth.

"The sole job for EOD is to protect personnel, property and equipment," said Tech. Sgt. John Collins, 28th CES EOD NCO in charge of EOD operations. "We deal with explosives and explosive devices, be it improvised explosive devices or conventional weapons. Where we fall in line with helping the local community is we provide [disposal] capability to places that don't typically have that response asset readily available."

Generally, the calls EOD respond to involve unexploded ordinance - or UXOs - in the community or on the former Badlands Bombing Range used by Ellsworth in the past.

"People may go out and find UXOs, and they look at that as pretty cool because it's military stuff, but they don't fully realize or understand that it could harm them or hurt their families," Collins said. "Being EOD operators, we can go out and provide that support to the community, which helps the local law enforcement and fire department."

Collins added that collaborating with local defense agencies in the community helps turn the Rapid City area into a safer place by collecting those munitions and disposing of them in a controlled manner.

A typical disposal operation begins with a call from the base command post, followed by EOD coordinating with their squadron leadership and base leadership to receive authorization to depart the base.

"At that point when we are given authorization to go, we depart the base and arrive on scene, receive intelligence from on scene personnel and work through our procedures to positively identify the item and remove it safely," Collins said.

With a base exercise approaching, EOD is preparing by running their team members through conventional weapon and improvised explosive operations, as well as base recovery operations. By training consistently, Collins and his team remain proficient and ready to execute the mission when called upon.

"We are capable of responding to the full spectrum of any kind of explosive threat, whether it's on or off base," Collins said. "An EOD team on the installation can do many different things, but for Ellsworth, we support the flying operations. If there's hung ordinance, we can respond to that and mitigate that hazard. If there is an aircraft crash, there are other explosive components on that aircraft, so we'll help safe those components so the crash investigators can go in and safely do their investigation."

EOD also trains and educates the base populous on how to conduct explosive ordinance reconnaissance, such as, if the base gets attacked, personnel would know how to mark and cordon off the area and positively identify the threat.

"It fills the gaps the Airman's Manual leaves out, and then you get that hands on, practical stuff instead of sitting there looking at a picture," Collins said. "We also help provide support for base defense planning and senior officers. We walk them through the incident management structure and what the EOD team is capable of providing them as an incident commander."

Collins stressed the importance of training and said anyone can contact EOD if they feel they require additional training, and the flight will provide that support as mission requirements allow.

"We're here if anyone needs more training or if they want to see a pre-departure or pre-deployment briefing," Collins said. "Even explanations of potential threats they could encounter of an explosive nature, we're here and we would more than like to provide those types of training pieces for them."