By Michael Golembesky
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
FORT CARSON, Colo. — “Smoke, smoke, smoke, five minutes to detonation,” rang out over the radio during a joint training exercise between explosive ordnance disposal members from the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron, 302nd CES and Buckley’s 140th CES at the Airburst range and training complex at Fort Carson, just west of Pueblo, Colo.
Hot, dry and windy; back dropped by the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, the Airburst range at the southern-most end of Fort Carson’s training area could easily be mistaken for anywhere in Afghanistan.
“Gaming (teaching) in the classroom can only get you so far. Out here we can add stress, heat, fatigue, real explosives and really get down to how the job is done,” said Master Sgt. Benjamin “Paul” Horton, 21st CES Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician.
The purpose of this semi-annual training event is to bring together EOD technicians from around the region that would normally not have access to this type of field experience because of limitations such as too few personnel, funding allocations and availability of Reserve and Guard members.
“We are getting more bang for the buck by bringing all of these different personnel together into one training event,” Horton said about the advantages of this type of consolidated field training.
Senior Airman Noah Wood, 21st CES EOD technician, organized the training event including range use coordination, logistics and securing the availably of demolition explosives.
“Woods did a great job putting this all together. Normally you would see a staff sergeant doing this type of task but we like to train our Airmen young and have them take on larger responsibilities,” Horton said.
The skill-sets of an EOD technician requires continual training and refreshing of tradecraft.
“As the active-duty flight lead, it is my responsibility to ensure these Airmen have the skills and experience so that they can safely do their jobs downrange,” said Master Sgt. Ross Kurashima, 302nd CES EOD technician.
Senior Airman Darrell Linkus, 140th CES EOD technician from Buckley AFB, practiced Afghanistan-specific techniques when learning how to clear unexploded ordnance that can be found anywhere in theater. When he is not handling explosives for the Air Force, Darrell is a full-time fire fighter for the city of Westminster, Colo.
The focus of this training exercise was to give less experienced EOD technicians the opportunity to put their skills to work with real world applications in basic explosives setup, the proper destruction of sensitive material and rendering a UXO “safe.”
“It’s one thing to talk about doing it. Now show me, do it,” Horton said.
Senior Airman David Rediger, 302nd CES EOD technician, carefully laid four sticks of C-4 when prepping an explosion to provide EOD techs a real-life example of how important standoff distances are when dealing with large amounts of explosives. Rediger also takes the skills learned here and applies them to his civilian career with the Colorado State Patrol in Broomfield, Colo.
“I train my (Airmen) for war, this is my reality,” Horton said when asked to sum up the training exercise. “EOD makes up more than 50 percent of the Air Force’s casualties, and (they) need to be ready to execute their jobs.”