Story and photos by Pfc. Matthew Marsilia | 14th Public Affairs Detachment
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — Maj. Robert Heywood, an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) officer with 71st Ordnance Group (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), shared his EOD experiences and knowledge Oct. 25 with 11 cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Heywood, a 13-year EOD veteran, had much to say on the subject given his long career, and because the cadets were enrolled in a chemistry of weapons course, the subject matter resonated with them.
“It is really good to get an outside perspective on something like EOD,” said Capt. John Hudgins, structural engineer and chemistry teacher at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Heywood spoke in depth about his passion for the EOD field.
“This is my obligatory EOD pitch,” said Heywood. “EOD is an outstanding career.”
Heywood, however, wasn’t hesitant to express the dangers that come with the career field. He recalled deploying to Iraq with the 38th EOD out of Fort Stewart, Georgia, which completed over 700 missions and disposed of more than 15,000 pounds of explosives. He became acceptant of the fact that any mission he would set out on could be his very last.
“Every time I would deploy and go out on mission, I would make peace with myself,” Heywood said.
His visit was beneficial for the students in attendance.
“I think anytime you get a chance to meet somebody with experience on the ground — with troops on the ground — they get a better picture of what they’re supporting,” Hudgins said.
Heywood said people need to be adaptive in their thought process to be successful in the program.
“People who typically do better at EOD school are those who are able to take in knowledge and translate it into action,” Heywood said.
He also explained the dangers of explosives, different types of homemade explosives, oxidizers and the role of EOD both overseas and at home.
At the end of his presentation, Heywood left the class with some positive words.
“I found something I really enjoy and that I’m really good at,” Heywood said. “I’ve had many opportunities to change my career field, but I’d rather be a part of the EOD community.”