MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
“Digging right!” yells out an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician while shoveling out an unexploded 60mm mortar round while sweeping for mortars rounds and projectiles at Combat Center Range 401 July 14.
When the Combat Center’s EOD technicians are not deployed, they can be found on the ranges searching the desert for dangerous munitions left behind by units training for war.
Sgt. Aaron S. Rogers, an EOD technician and native of Lehi, Utah, said their work aboard the base is an important factor for training Marines.
By keeping the ranges cleared of unexploded devices, units training aboard the Combat Center can receive the maximum affect the ranges have to offer, he said. Clearing a range can take up to an entire day depending on the weather and type of ordnance being cleared.
“There is certain ordnance out there that is so sensitive we can’t be out there if the wind is blowing more than 10 miles per hour,” Rogers said.
The Combat Center’s Range/Training Areas Main- tenance Branch also depends on the work EOD does when clearing the ranges.
“RTAMS comes in after us and rebuilds the ranges after they have been bombed by training units,” said Sgt. Thomas Nguyen, an EOD technician, and native of Highland, Calif.
Nguyen said it was important for all the unexploded ordnance to be picked up so RTAMS doesn’t come in contact with them while operating heavy machinery.
While sweeping the range, the technicians have developed an easy way to make sure they find and dispose of any dangerous mortars or projectiles: Walk in a police call formation and detonate all the ordnance they find.
Rogers said EOD technicians aboard the Combat Center and at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., learn more about their jobs and different ordnance due to the amount of training and range sweeps they do.
EOD also works closely with the San Bernardino and Riverside County Sheriff Departments responding to calls out in town if the need arises.
“We get calls from the San Bernardino County Sheriffs Department every so often after they raid someone’s house,” Rogers said. “A lot of scrappers, or even retired Marines, will keep ‘souvenirs’ that just happen to be explosives.
“We go out there, make sure it is safe enough for us to move it and then go destroy it,” he continued. When they move the explosive, they bring it back on base and detonate it on one of the ranges.
Along with the sheriffs departments, the EOD technicians have also trained closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to receive the maximum amount of knowledge, and are constantly holding the EOD Response and Operations Course for
Marines who are preparing for deployment.
Rogers said other than working with explosives, the best thing about his job is always having something new to do and the job possibilities working with EOD has opened up for him and his fellow Marines for when they get out of the Marine Corps.