Story and photo by Andrea Sutherland
The colors of the 71st Ordnance Group (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) changed hands Aug. 9 at Founders Field as Col. Leo E. Bradley relinquished command of the unit to Col. William R. McDonough.
“This ceremony allows me to recognize the accomplishments of one Soldier and express confidence in another,” said Brig. Gen. Leslie C. Smith, commanding general, 20th Support Command and reviewing official for the ceremony.
Smith spoke about Bradley’s many accomplishments, including the multiple deployments companies in his command completed.
“This team has risen to meet every challenge,” he said. “This is the tip of the spear of the … fight.”
Smith expressed confidence that McDonough would continue the “legacy of success.”
As commander of the 71st Group (EOD), McDonough oversees roughly 1,300 Soldiers serving in 23 companies in four battalions stationed at nine different installations. In addition to military duties, the Soldiers from the group provide support to local, state and federal governments throughout the western region with training and ordnance disposal.
In his opening remarks as commander, McDonough echoed those of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey.
“I am well aware of the great gift that has been given to me today,” he said. “To say I’m excited to get started would be an understatement.”
Recently the chief of the Army Munitions Management Division at the Pentagon, McDonough said he was looking forward to taking command of the 71st EOD and returning to Fort Carson where he had served as the commander for the 2nd Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
A combat-tested officer, McDonough completed tours in operations Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. He completed numerous Army courses including the Scout Platoon Leader’s Course, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Course and the Joint Nuclear Explosive Ordnance Course. He also attended the Combined Arms Services Staff School, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College. Throughout his time in the Army, McDonough earned numerous medals and awards, including the Bronze Star Medal, Combat Action Badge, Ranger Tab, Air Assault Badge and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Badge.
In his first address as commander, McDonough wished Bradley luck as the former commander prepares to move to Washington, D.C. for another position with the Army.
“Leo, your leadership set conditions for the numerous successes achieved by the group over the past two years, most notably the contributions outlined by (Joint Task Force Paladin) in Afghanistan,” he said.
Bradley took command of the 71st EOD July 13, 2010. Under his command, several EOD companies deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“For the past two years it’s been my honor and privilege to serve as the commander,” he said.
Bradley touted the numerous achievements of Soldiers under his command.
In the past two years, the group performed more than 600 EOD missions in the U.S., he said. The group provided 48,000 man hours of support.
Bradley said 13 of the group’s companies deployed along with each battalion headquarters. While deployed, Soldiers completed 14,000 EOD incidents, most surrounding IEDs. Soldiers also trained 17,000 servicemembers in counter-IED awareness.
“The tremendous success of the group … is not due to anything that I’ve done,” Bradley said. “It’s due entirely to the skills, motivation, hard work and determination of the Soldiers.”
In his closing statements to the audience, Bradley expressed confidence in McDonough.
“I leave you with a battle-hardened group of Soldiers,” he said. “I know you will help write the next chapter in the 71st Group’s long history.”