May 6 pays tribute to members of a select group of heroes known as Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians—aka the bomb squad.
As members of an elite team in each branch of the military, EOD techs are trained to detect and destroy all manner of enemy explosive device. Dealing with chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons is part of what they’re trained for, too. And they’re pros at parachuting, diving and collecting forensic evidence. These soldiers have one of the most extensive training programs in the enlisted armed services.
The first bomb squads came out of England during World War II. The British needed specialists able to disarm the many unexploded Nazi bombs dropped during the air attacks of 1940. Luckily, there were a few soldiers with enough nerve and smarts to take on the challenge.
Following Britain’s lead and with its help, the U.S. also began forming its own bomb squads. By 1942, the U.S. Army and Navy both had bomb disposal units that played important roles in the war. And when the war was over, many bomb squad techs remained in various parts of Europe working to disarm the unexploded ordnance left over.
These soldiers, playing major roles in every U.S. war or conflict since, have remained an important part of the U.S. military. There are more than 7,000 men and women working as EOD techs in today’s U.S. armed forces.
The job, according to some, tends to attract certain personality types. Problem solvers who enjoy working on small, independent teams do well. Thrill seekers, too, are attracted to EOD, and the job has even been compared to that of a special operations commando.
And with a motto of “initial success or total failure,” it’s clear bravery is a requirement, too. These are, after all, the men and women who move toward the danger other brave souls are told to run from. Veteran Energy salutes your courage.