EOD: Only the best should apply

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- The Air Force's Explosive Ordnance Disposal career field requires attention to detail and the ability to communicate effectively while striving for nothing less than perfection.

The elite group of men and women within this field perform their mission by following an unofficial motto, "Initial Success or Total Failure."

"The mission of the explosive ordnance disposal section here at Mountain Home Air Force Base is to provide expertise and equipment to protect people, resources and the environment from unsafe U.S. and foreign ordnance, terrorist improvised explosive devices and other explosive hazards," stated Tech Sgt. Lawrence Saterfield, 366th Civil Engineering Squadron noncommissioned officer-in-charge of EOD logistics, equipment and operations. "We stand ready to provide this unique capability to the base commander, Department of Defense and government agencies, and local civil authorities."

Regardless of the age of the military ordnance, EOD Airmen from MHAFB respond across the state whenever called upon.

"The federal military munitions rule basically states that any military ordnance found by civilian authorities must be handled and disposed of by military EOD personnel," said Senior Airman Richard Bezouska, 366th CES explosive ordnance disposal journeyman. "For example, if grandfather brought home a grenade from World War II and now his children don't want it, they contact us and we dispose of it safety. One time we actually had to drive six hours, one-way, to recover old ordnance.

According to Bezouska, there are approximately 900-1,000 military EOD personnel throughout the military.

"EOD professionals are a family regardless of which branch of service they belong to," said Bezouska. "Only one percent of Americans join the military and only one percent of people who join volunteer for EOD.

"You get real close to the people you work with," he continued. "Any one of us would put our life on the line for each other."

For all personnel who choose EOD, constant training is essential in order to safely complete the mission.

"As EOD professionals we are constantly learning, and because things change so much we receive up-to-date training as much as possible," said Bezouska. "In the Air Force, we go through a pretty extensive training process to become EOD experts. There is a month-long preliminary course before being sent to the nine-month technical school."

Once technical school requirements have been met, Airmen are stationed at installations worldwide and continue training to meet the needs of the local communities.

"We are basically on-call, all-day every day," said Bezouska. "If there is an emergency on Christmas morning and the phone rings, we are out.

"When deployed, much of our time is spent removing improvised explosive devises which are placed on or near the roads by insurgents," he continued. "However, any situation where explosives or ordnance are involved require our expert attention."

Bezouska also had advice for anyone interested in becoming an EOD professional.

"Wanting to do this job is a critical part of being in EOD," he said. "We must think outside the box, sometimes literally, and communicate to leadership effectively in order to complete our mission and go home safely."

Although their job is extremely dangerous, these EOD professionals continue to put their lives on the line fulfilling mission success by disposing of dangerous ordnance.

"We handle and dispose of things nobody else is willing to deal with," said Bezouska. "I couldn't imagine ever doing anything else in the military because this career field is absolutely exhilarating."