From the Frontlines: Tech. Sgt. Ron L. White

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alexandra M. Boutte
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Airmen from all walks of life in the Explosive Ordnance Disposal community answers their nation's call when the U.S. Army asks for help in a joint effort against improvised explosive devices, to ensure U.S. servicemebersĀ are safer on the ground and in the battle.

Tech. Sgt. Ron L. White, 509th CES explosive ordnance disposal NCO in charge of resources, was deployed to forward operating base Andar, Afghanistan, from August 2010 to March. This was Sergeant White's tenth deployment, fourth of which was in combat, in his 15 years in this line of work.

Sergeant White, an Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen, was an EOD team leader during his deployment and attached to an Army Air Assault Division.

"Our task was to disarm IEDs, search for and safely destroy enemy weapons and conduct post blast analysis of IED detonations to recover intelligence and evidence and use it to adjust friendly tool, tactics and procedures," Sergeant White said.

With only one Air Force EOD team in the FOB, there was no shortage of jobs to be completed by the end of the day. The flight would divide their team into two different forces; one as a quick response force, responding to unplanned incidents, and the other team was left to support the 12 platoons running missions on the battlefield.

"It was common for us to move between the four supported FOBs daily in order to be on the missions deemed most likely to encounter IEDs, weapons caches or bomb builder workshops," Sergeant White said. "If a platoon found anything without EOD support attached, they would be forced to stop their mission, secure the area and wait until we could get a team to that location. We would have to rucksack march in with explosives and robots on our backs. This often results in enemy fire directed at them while they waited for us to show up."

Sergeant White's supervisor, Master Sgt. Michael Shumate, 509th CES EOD NCO in charge, believes his Airman is the best man for the job.

"Sergeant White possesses a vast amount of technical knowledge," Sergeant Shumate said. "When you marry his comprehension of the career field with his enthusiasm, it is a very potent combination."

Although Sergeant White did not have the familiarity of being at an Air Force installation, he understood why he needed to be at the Army post.

"We survived next to our brothers-in-arms," Sergeant White said. "We ate, slept and lived like them, but I wouldn't change a thing. I went there to do a job, did it and came home alive."
Stepping foot on American soil is perhaps the best feeling any military member has when returning from a long operation without his family or close friends.

"It was great getting him back in one piece," Sergeant Shumate said. "He had a few narrow escapes while he was deployed and I always breathe easier anytime one of my teammates return from a successful deployment."