Reservist hits minior bump in road
By Capt. Jennifer Gerhardt, 446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 29, 2006
MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. --
Picture yourself driving down a bumpy, dirt road. Your Humvee is cruising along, but you're tense from waiting for something to happen. Eventually, it does. Your vehicle just detonated a roadside bomb and you're flying three feet into the air. For one Reservist with the 446th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight, this is just another day at work.
Master Sgt. Jeff Sursely was injured from an improvised explosive device in October, when he was traveling in a convoy and his Humvee hit a pressure switch that detonated a roadside bomb on the driver's side of the vehicle, disabling it.
"The vehicle, when hit, was lifted about three feet off of the ground and all four doors were blown open," said Sergeant Sursely, who was on crutches for a week and is still limping slightly. "My driver received shrapnel wounds to his right leg, and my photographer had a piece of shrapnel in her hand and a bruise to her left elbow. My gunner didn't receive any injuries and I injured my left knee. But now, everyone is back on duty."
When some of Sergeant Sursely's 446th CES coworkers heard about his incident, they were worried.
"There have been two Air Force EOD guys who have been killed in action in Iraq and four who were seriously injured," said Master Sgt. Chris Rumley, the EOD program manager at McChord. "I was worried before Jeff got hit, and still have worries about all four of our EOD operators currently deployed or deploying in support of the global war on terror."
Sergeant Rumley thinks the Air Force EOD program has been extremely lucky and attributes that luck to intense training programs, fielding of improved equipment, and the operational risk management processes developed within the Air Force culture.
One of the missions of EOD technicians is to conduct combat forensic post blast analysis. "The purpose of the mission is to identify bomb makers and scene analysis," said Sergeant Sursely. "We respond to IED attacks to gather evidence and record the scene."
"The counter IED fight includes a large group of organizations, with EOD being one of them," said Sergeant Sursely. "As EOD technicians, we recognize signatures of bomb makers, which can help in targeting the bomb maker network."
This knowledge can be very useful in saving U.S. service member lives since roadside bombs are responsible for a large portion of combat fatalities in Iraq. The reason behind the deadly threats is bombs can be hidden on the side of roads and detonated remotely. "I've learned a lot about the fight over here," said Sergeant Sursely. "They have chosen how to meet us on the battlefield, and we find new and innovative ways to combat them." For Sergeant Sursely, the evolving enemy and innovative techniques to stop them have given him a different perspective.
"My impression of insurgents hasn't changed, but I now have a different perspective on them," Sergeant Sursely said. "The best way to describe it is that I now understand how hard it was in Vietnam to fight an enemy that didn't wear a uniform and could chose where and how the battle was fought. Naturally, it would be a lot easier if you knew who was friend and who was foe."