Presidential detail offers unique opportunity to EOD Airmen
By Senior Airman Benjamin Sutton, 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 15, 2012
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Explosive Ordnance Disposal professionals here are called upon regularly by the Secret Service to assist in protection of the president and other members of state.
The details are a career highlight for the EOD professionals who are chosen.
"The Secret Service requests members of EOD and, as long as we have adequate personnel available to complete the home-station mission, we can volunteer for this assignment, which I did," stated Staff Sgt. Jonathan Winter, 366th Civil Engineering Squadron journeyman. "Basically, wherever the president, his family or member of state go, we go first.
"EOD always works with K-9 units also assigned to the detail because most dogs are trained to detect explosives and we are trained to recognize the signs of them," he continued.
These EOD professionals are responsible for many aspects of security for the president or VIP.
"During the detail we conducted multiple searches in areas looking for possible devices," said Airman 1st Class Gabriel Kalohelani, 366th CES explosive ordnance disposal apprentice. "Protection of our commander-in-chief is one of the most important assignments any member of the military can be assigned.
"There are many different tasks we are expected to fulfill since we are trained experts in a broad range of potential hazards," he continued. "These details are a way for us to get out and offer our unique skill set on a national level while at the same time representing the base and our squadron in a professional manner."
While on these presidential details, EOD Airmen use a job-specific slogan to get the job done.
"The phrase we use during these details is, Find or Function- Find meaning make sure all possible threats in the area are found and function meaning eliminate or detonate the threat before it has a chance to harm a VIP.
"Once a site is under our control, we check every inch of it for anything potentially harmful," he continued. "Our goal is to be as creative as a possible and try and think of where things could be and why they would be there, basically thinking like the enemy."
This was the first time Winter and Kalohelani have worked the presidential detail together and coincidentally it was the seventh time for each Airman individually.
"One detail I volunteered to work was President Obama's inauguration," said Winter. "During it I helped search the Lincoln Memorial, and on another occasion I had the opportunity to search the Library of Congress.
"We are always ready to assist the Secret Service in protection of VIPs," he continued. "We try to think a step ahead of the bad guys."
The Secret Service pulls EOD professionals from all branches of service for these special duty assignments.
"It's not just Air Force EOD on these details," said Winter. "This is great because at technical school we train with everyone and become very close so it's easy to pick right up and work with them."
According to Winter, terrorist and other insurgent groups are known to use any means necessary to kill or maim state officials.
"Part of our job is being trained in not just military explosives but also homemade explosives," he explained. "Homemade explosives are as creative and unique as the bad guys want them to be. Each one is different and deadly."
At the end of the day, these Airmen are proud to be a part of this unique detail.
"This is the job we train for and do extremely well," stated Winter. "It must be done, and the Secret Service trusts us to get the job done effectively and efficiently."