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Fire in the hole

By Cpl. Timothy Norris | | November 27, 2013


"Fire in the hole! Fire in the hole! Fire in the hole!" yells an explosive ordnance technician before a deep boom shakes the earth, signaling the detonation of an ammonium nitrate explosive at the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort demolition range, Nov 14.

The Air Station Explosive Ordnance Disposal team trains regularly with live explosives, often with the Beaufort County Bomb Squad, to sharpen their technical skills.

"We train quite often with the Marine Corps," said Scott Johnson, the Beaufort County Bomb Squad commander. "Even though they are military and we are law enforcement, we still have the same goals."

Explosive ordnance technician is one of several military occupational specialties that rate the monthly Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay or demolition duty. According to Marine Administrative Message 0361/09, the purpose is to, "compensate for the more than normally dangerous character of such duties and encourages members to continue to volunteer to perform these duties."

The Air Station EOD Marines agreed, however, that all the training they do with live explosives is not about the money.

"There are many types of incentive pay out there for combat zones and non-deployable situations," said Staff Sgt. Matthew Anderson an EOD Tech from Franklin, Tenn. "We try to go out there and do our job as efficiently as possible. EOD techs are risking their lives every day and they don’t do it for the money or the glory. They do it to save lives."

In between sets of demolition, the EOD team recognized one of their team members for exemplifying the very reason they put their lives at risk on a regular basis.

Staff Sgt. Timothy Golden, an explosive ordnance technician, received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for his successful deployment to Afghanistan, where he neutralized 20 active improvised explosive devices, and destroyed 374 pounds of homemade explosives, among other actions that saved lives.

"Awards don’t normally capture the entirety of what a Marine has done," said Chief Warrant Officer Jesse McGinnis, Air Station EOD officer-in-charge. "This is only a snapshot of an eight-month deployment where he undoubtedly changed the battlefield and saved lives."

On the Air Station, after each demolition, Marines would inspect the remains to determine if the simulated explosives would have been rendered safe without risking others safety.

The constant exposure to real explosives, Anderson added, prepares the Marines for the dangers of working with real IEDs, and gives them the skills to walk away unhurt, as Golden did in Afghanistan.