Reservists thwart insurgent activities
By Capt. Jennifer Gerhardt, 446th Airlift Wing
/ Published April 24, 2006
MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Destruction. Chaos. Killing American troops. Iraq insurgents attempt to achieve these goals by using Improvised Explosive De-vices. However, the 446th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal specialists here take personal enjoyment in continuously thwarting those efforts.
Since May 2003, nine Air Force Reserve EOD specialists from McChord have spent a combined total of 1,034 days in Southwest Asia, said Master Sgt. Chris Rumley, EOD program manager. During that time, the Reservists have responded to 18 IED calls, 625 surface-to-air missiles, 1,292 flares, and disposed of more than 40,000 explosive items. Tech. Sgt. David Ewbank, EOD flight team leader, went on his fourth deployment in March, joining another McChord Reservist already there.
“It is how you get experience,” said Sergeant Ewbank. “As an EOD specialist, if you don’t deploy, you’re like a doctor who never sees patients … what good are you?”
Overseas, EOD specialists perform a dangerous mission every day to make the country safer for coalition forces and Iraqi civilians.
“I’m excited to deploy to Iraq because I’ll be at the forefront of new bomb design and inventions,” said Sergeant Ewbank. “The insurgents are always coming up with something new and I like countering it.”
Master Sgt. James Coley, who just returned from a four-month deployment, has been activated twice for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
“Our biggest threat was improvised explosive devices,” said Sergeant Coley, who was the flight chief for EOD in Kyrgyzstan. “We responded to suspicious packages and rotated in and out of Afghanistan.
“A typical day for us would be a combination of training and responding to incidents and also conducting training for foreign national and coalition forces,” said Sergeant Coley.
Now that he’s back, his job will be to pass on the lessons learned and help prepare the next wave of Airmen to face the IED threat.
One of those Airmen is Tech. Sgt. William Warrick, a former active-duty security forces dog handler, who graduated from EOD technical school in November 2005.
“At (technical) school, they can only show you a certain amount because of limited time,” said Sergeant Warrick. “Here, we go through everything from A to Z and put it all together.”
Once Sergeant Warrick’s training is complete, he plans on volunteering to deploy.
“It would be very frustrating to train and train, but never get the chance to deploy to take what you learn and apply it,” said Sergeant Warrick.