EOD is the BOMB
By Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry, 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 05, 2013
WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --
Explosive devices - for years they have plagued our troops overseas, and they can pose a threat at home, too. One group of dedicated Service members at Whiteman is devoted to mitigating that threat.
That team is EOD.
The 509th Explosive Ordnance Disposal team trains every day to prepare for any situation and to defeat explosive devices, said Senior Airman Christopher Dahmen, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD team member.
EOD's mission is to support the B-2, and they do so by ensuring weapons feasibility on the aircraft. If a malfunction occurs with the weapons rack, they check it.
Nobody plans to find a bomb or stumble on an improvised explosive device, but when it happens, EOD responds to the situation.
In confronting explosives, EOD technicians make use of substantial personal protective gear, namely the bomb suit.
"Bomb suits are a bigger version of body armor," said Dahmen. "Bombs can be approached in or [out of] this equipment, depending on the situation at hand...We are going to be wearing some type of protective equipment whenever we work on explosives."
For safety reasons, two or more personnel must be present to conduct operations, said Staff Sgt. Scott Underdahl, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD team leader. If something happens to an EOD tech, another member must be able to provide medical assistance or contact emergency personnel.
Additionally, EOD personnel are equipped not only with safety assets they can wear, but also ones they can drive.
Over the years, explosives responder teams have worked with technology, leading to the development of robots which can be used to disarm bombs, which presents far less risk to the Service member.
Whiteman's EOD team utilizes two main robots - the Air Force Medium-Sized Robot (AFMSR) and the F-6 robot, both of which enable them to accomplish the mission while keeping unit members more protected. These mechanical allies can roll right up to an IED or other explosive and determine its size, components and other features, providing valuable intelligence to EOD personnel.
The history of EOD began in World War ll, when teams had to disarm bombs themselves. During WWII, explosive devices presented new and unique challenges for the armed forces.
"...Bombs did not always go off," said Underdahl. "There's a bomb laying there that did not go off; it is still a hazard because they didn't know why it did not explode and when it will explode. When the soldiers walked up to a bomb that did not explode, it blew them away...People needed to take care of these bombs that did not go off..."
This reality laid the foundation for the birth of explosive ordnance disposal teams, he said.
"During the WWII time period, bombs were new and no one knew how to deal with them or had even heard of them," Underdahl said. "Now the explosives have evolved over time, and now we have a library of explosive devices; we can train on them, our techniques are similar, we just have a lot more tools..."
Explosives can turn up in the most unlikely places, so safety is everyone's responsibility, whether EOD or not. Everyone has a responsibility to alert other Airmen that a "dead," or unexploded, bomb, is in the area. If someone spots a "dead bomb," he should alert his fellow Airmen, and immediately contact EOD, who will handle it.
At the end of the day, serving as an EOD requires nerves of steel, and a desire to keep other Service members safe. Whether deployed or at home station, these gritty and determined Airmen are a vital component of Air Force safety and security.
For more information, please contact EOD at 660-687-4423