EOD: Volunteering for danger
By SOF Editor on Thu, 12/24/2009 - 9:27am
When Staff Sgt. Kenneth Guinn decided on an Air Force career field, he didn't want to be indoors behind a computer. With that criteria narrowing the scope, he decided to volunteer for what he calls the best job in the Air Force: explosive ordnance disposal, a volunteer-only career field. "I really enjoy it; I wouldn't have it any other way," said Sergeant Guinn, who has been a part of the 37th Civil Engineer Squadron's EOD unit since June 2005. Sergeant Guinn followed his family's lineage into the Air Force. His father was an Airman, and after his brother followed suit, Sergeant Guinn completed the trifecta. In fact, his brother brought EOD to his attention. Most days on the job are never dull for the EOD squad. Two days each week are spent training, and every other week the unit heads to the range to train on demos. In between, there's paperwork, upkeep and reviewing reports from deployed units. Additionally, at least one two-man team is on call 24 hours. All of that is second to its top priority: responding to emergency situations. Lackland EOD is responsible for the southern half of Texas. When a civilian agency -- a police or sheriff's office -- has a suspect package and doesn't have a bomb squad, Airmen in the Lackland unit may respond. "The majority of our calls are (because someone) is suspicious (of something)," Sergeant Guinn said. "Since I've been here, I can think of only one call where we actually found a pipe bomb at somebody's house. "Most of the time, here in the States, we don't find actual (improvised explosive devices); it's usually a backpack, somebody's shoes or something that was left behind (and someone became suspicious)." The response calls get the unit out in the community and when necessary, EOD Airmen conduct IED recognition classes, as they did for construction workers at Brooke Army Medical Center. Airmen in the unit recently held a safety day, spending time in classified training and briefings. Some of the material covered in the briefings included mental health, deployment and family issues. They also reviewed reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, which occur on a regular basis due to frequent deployments. For what is a potentially dangerous career field, what makes it so interesting? "You can be sitting at your computer one moment, then get a call about a package on base or something like that," Sergeant Guinn said. "Or it could be an ordnance at a construction site you've got to blow up so protective measures are done to be sure nobody gets hurt."