Grenades, flares, suspicious packages all in EOD day's work
By Eric Brian, 45th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 17, 2007
PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- As if the Global War on Terror and the 45th Space Wing's Operational Readiness Inspection were not enough, the 45th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight dealt with a number of real-world scenarios in March.
No sooner had the inspections kicked off March 11 when a briefcase was found in a dumpster at the south beach access.
Then March 12, a suspect package was reported in Building 425. It turned out to be a box of books and magazines on a second-floor desk.
March 14, a military working dog "sat on" a suspect vehicle parked across from the PAX Terminal during a random check.
"It turned out an AFTAC employee had hauled fertilizer in the car," said Master Sgt. George Price, 45th EOD Flight chief. "This was when we had concrete barricades around the buildings and people were parked everywhere."
Then March 18, an EOD crew responded following a fatal crash that occurred during practice for the air show in Titusville. The team assisted the National Transportation Safety Board in locating and identifying all hazards associated with the aircraft's ejection seat.
"We cleared a path into the crash site for the NTSB and FAA investigators, and rendered safe the aircraft ejection seat," said Sergeant Price.
The downed aircraft was an L-39A Albatross, a Czechoslovakian military jet.
"Not only do we have to know our stuff, but we have to know everybody else's," Sergeant Price said.
EOD members are trained on foreign military ordnance and aircraft, he said. "We have technical data, and with our technical orders , we put in information, search, and apply our skill set to it. These are inherently the same; one ejection seat is similar to the next one. What works for one is put on another; basically they have the same small explosive charges on them."
Flight members caught a break from real-world responses during the remainder of the ORI. But on March 26, the day of the ORI out brief and post-ORI celebration, the EOD Airmen were called to Stuart, Fla., in Martin County, where a flare was found.
"My guys just had enough time to go over to The Tides and grab a plate; then they had to go out of town," said Sergeant Price. "They didn't get to enjoy the festivities, but hey, that's the nature of our job.
Not only did they miss the party, the EOD personnel didn't even get a night at home.
"That's the night, March 26, when we got a call about the grenades," said Sergeant Price. I got the call at 11:25 p.m., and we left after midnight to go up to Flagler Beach."
A man had found a can marked "Grenades" on the beach and his woman friend then placed the can in the trunk of her car. The friends said they intended to drop the can off at a local police department, but thought better of it. They instead called authorities. When local firefighters decided they didn't want to deal with the risky can, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office Bomb Squad and 45th EOD Flight were called in. The bomb squad's robot opened the can and revealed 18 live, 40-mm high-explosive rounds designed for launching rather than throwing after the pull of a pin.
The EOD received follow-on call to the Flagler Beach Fire Department in response to the finding of a Navy MK 25 Marine Marker, a type of flare.
The explosives were destroyed on the EOD range at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Things have remained somewhat quiet following all that activity.
"It comes in spurts," said Staff Sgt. Marlon Mitchell. "Sometimes we have a dry spell; other times it all comes at once and every hour you'll be doing something. That's just the way it is."
Sergeants Price and Mitchell returned from their last deployment in October. Another 45th EOD team recently returned from deployment. Mitchell, Price and other flight members are scheduled to deploy to Iraq in June.
"We came back from our deployment just in time to do our ORI, then we get calls in the middle of all that. We just press on and get it done."