US Army deminers share their stories of their jobs

Dangerous jobs abound in the US military. One of the riskiest remains that of an explosive ordnance disposal technician (EOD). A function that exists in the demining brigades. Deminers put their lives at risk for others to avoid doing so. They have to defuse improvised explosive devices (IEDs), for example, and even a minor misstep can cost them life or loss of a limb.

“There were times when I stood on top of something that could kill me and tried to imagine all the choices I had made in my life to get to that moment,” said Marines EOD technician Master Sergeant Carlos Villarreal, who has been with the corps for over 18 years, has been entrusted to Insider. One of the most terrifying moments in Carlos Villarreal’s military career came during his first combat deployment as an EOD technician.

[display-posts orderby="comment_count"]

To read also – Discover the 5 “truths” which are supposed to guide the American special forces

His team leader was killed while trying to defuse an IED in Afghanistan in 2011. His death shocked Carlos Villarreal, and highlighted the risks of the trade. “He was one of the guys we looked up to,” said the serviceman, recalling thinking at the time, “If someone as good as him could die, what are my chances of making it? ? ” He put those thoughts aside, however, and did his job. He says the training he received from this gunnery sergeant and others is what allowed him to return home alive.

A deminer trains to defuse a dummy bomb USMC

“If you think it’s going to explode, don’t go”

EOD technicians are very well trained, with training programs lasting almost a year that cover a lot of essential information to not only get the job done, but also survive it. But even with excellent training, the work remains difficult.

Explosives are complex. Sometimes a bomb is in a location that makes it difficult to handle, such as near a populated civilian area like a hospital or school. And sometimes it’s not obvious that there is a threat until someone finds it out by chance. “There have been a number of times I’ve been right on top of an improvised explosive device before realizing it,” Chief Warrant Officer Michael Gaydeski, who was an EOD technician for most of the time, told Insider. part of his 23 years of service in the Marines and which was deployed in Iraq.

Read also – Here’s how the bodyguards tasked with protecting celebrities are trained

“It’s always the one you don’t know who’s going to get you,” he added. “I was clearly a step away from stepping on something before I saw it. It’s really alarming.”

Michael Gaydeski and Carlos Villarreal both survived their respective deployments, but not everyone. They said the hardest part of the job is losing comrades. Carlos Villarreal confided that he lost friends, fellow deminers, in combat. It’s also very hard to fight inner demons like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Michael Gaydeski educates military USMC

Each Marine EOD technician approaches work stress in a different way. Carlos Villarreal highlighted the strong ties that bind the EOD community together, explaining that members of this community “rely on each other to overcome these stressful times”. Michael Gaydeski also spoke in positive terms about the EOD community, which he sees as the best part of the job, but added that his faith also helps him face the challenges.

[display-posts orderby="rand"]

“I believe in God, and I believe that he is in control. I believe that I will die when he says that I am going to die”, he confided before adding: “I trust in God, and I find no stress in defusing bombs “.

“But don’t get me wrong. I’m a pretty cautious person, and I preach it to my guys,” Michael Gaydeski also said, noting that “there are always things you can do to mitigate the risks. of a situation “. The latter added that EOD staff should be wary of complacency, explaining that this is “where guys in my field start to get hurt”.

Read also – Here are the 4 types of fighter jets that will be used by the US Air Force

Another important lesson he tries to convey is caution, namely that “if you think it’s going to explode, don’t go.” EOD personnel have heavy protective armor, commonly known as a bomb suit, which protects them from small explosions, but it does not make their wearer invincible. If it’s a vehicle-sized bomb, “all the armor in the world won’t save you if you’re right on top,” the minesweeper said again.

The bulky bomb suit can actually be a hindrance in some situations as it limits dexterity and affects the vision of the EOD technician. Thus, in certain dangerous situations, a deminer may come to the scene with limited protective equipment.

Michael Gaydeski says that if he doesn’t have a good feeling, he doesn’t go. “I’m going to use robotics or other remote means to mitigate it,” he says, explaining that there are usually, but not always, other options available.

Marine defuses improvised explosive device USMC

“You have to make a decision”

The Marine Corps EOD community is made up of volunteers who come from other military professional specialties. Michael Gaydeski was an Infantry Marine for four years and Carlos Villarreal was a communications technician before joining the EOD community.

This profession attracts Marines for different reasons. Carlos Villarreal decided he wanted to be an EOD technician when he saw a deminers team in action while deployed to Iraq. “Watching these guys, their professionalism and their courage, made me want to go to this community,” he said, adding that he “wanted to be one of those guys heading into danger. that most people were running from. “

Carlos Villarreal explains security measures USMC

When Marines volunteer to work in the field of explosive ordnance disposal, they go through a selection process to ensure that they are fit for work, and then they are sent to the ordnance disposal school. explosives and ordnance at Eglin Air Base for training.

Read also – Fighter pilots more affected by certain cancers than average, according to the US Air Force

Probably the most difficult part of the training, according to Michael Gaydeski, is a test that requires prospective EOD technicians to combine and use all the skills they learn in the program. An instructor will come up to you from a great distance and say, “Okay, see that there? That’s your problem. And that’s basically all you get, it’s your problem,” again specified the soldier.

“They give it to you with a script, maybe in a hospital or outside of a school or something,” he added. “They do this so you can’t easily push the button and blow everything up.”

Whether it is a training scenario or an actual situation, EOD Techs should approach it with the knowledge that their actions have consequences, but they should not be overwhelmed by it and allow caution. lead to inaction.

“You have to make a decision,” said Carlos Villarreal, adding that “you have to be confident in your choice” whatever it is. “This is how you are going to spend the day.”

A marine wearing a protective suit USMC

“You never know what could have happened”

Michael Gaydeski and Carlos Villarreal both work at the Marine Corps Air Station in Cherry Point, North Carolina. Michael Gaydeski is the uniformed officer in charge of an EOD emergency response team for the base and surrounding areas, and Carlos Villarreal is the staff non-commissioned officer in charge of the EOD section.

During overseas combat deployments, these EOD technicians were attached to various units and primarily dealt with improvised explosive devices. Here in the United States, they and their fellow EOD technicians sometimes support local law enforcement, responding to local explosives threats that are sometimes very different from what they have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The minesweeper explains that here in the United States they are often called in to respond to some kind of unexploded ordnance, however it turns out in eastern North Carolina.

Read also – US special forces will transform their planes to better face China

It is not unusual for some kind of explosive to wash up on the beach after a hurricane, he said, explaining that “there is actually a lot of ammunition in the ocean.” He added that “cannonballs from the battlefields of the Civil War and the War of Independence are also more common than people realize.”

“And then the WWII veterans also brought a lot of things home,” added Michael Gaydeski. “A frequent call we get here in North Carolina is, ‘Hey, I was cleaning out my grandfather’s garage and I found this grenade,’” he added. “This is something the military has a cradle-to-grave policy on. We don’t give up any of our ammunition, even if some of it is lost for a while.”

Working with dangerous explosives, whether it’s fusing bombs, disarming improvised explosive devices, dealing with a grenade someone found in the attic, or putting on flaming explosive shows during airshow, is an activity that is sometimes misunderstood by those looking from the outside.

Carlos Villarreal said that sometimes when he tells people what he does for a living, people get the wrong idea about him and his job, thinking he must be a thrill seeker. “One of the biggest misconceptions is that we’re adrenaline junkies, we’re crazy, we’re cowboys, but in reality we’re quite sane,” said The military.

“For me, it was always about trying to save lives,” he added. “We’re basically first responders. Someone who wants to do this job is the type of person who cares about people.”

Michael Gaydeski explained that “people who are drawn to this field are, as a rule, not adrenaline junkies”, adding that they are “professionals who have a code and seek to serve their neighbor”.

“We are facilitators for the infantry. We disarm dangers beyond their capabilities so that they can continue their maneuver,” he said. “I hope this is important. I hope I do. saved lives. You never know what could have happened, “he concludes.

Version originale : Ryan Pickrell / Insider

Read also – The 10 fastest military helicopters in the world

Leave a Comment