Explosive ordnance disposal teams play vital role in Iraq
Spc. Allan Montoya, a Humvee gunner and communications specialist for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, performs a functions check on his M-240 machine gun Nov. 28 at Camp Taji, Iraq. Montoya, a Houston, Texas native, serves on a team that escorts and pulls security for explosive ordnance and disposal personnel as they perform their mission of disposing of IEDs and weapons caches.

AL TAQADDUM, Iraq (American Forces Press Service, Dec. 15, 2006) - As explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams go about doing their jobs clearing roads and other areas of IEDs and destroying insurgent weapons caches, who has their backs and helps them with security'

For EOD teams who work with Soldiers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division here, the job of escorting these teams on their missions falls to three teams from Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC), 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion (BSTB).

Once units from the brigade discover an IED or weapons cache, EOD is called to help units with the disposal. The escort teams then leave with EOD in a convoy.

"We get out to them (the units) as quickly and efficiently as possible, we don't want to leave them exposed," said 2nd Lt. Estan Davis, nuclear, biological and chemical reconnaissance platoon leader with HHC, 1st BSTB.

Although, the Ironhorse brigade has only been in country for a relatively short period of time, the teams have already had their first experiences going on missions with EOD.

"They're confident and the training they've received prior to the deployment really prepared them, but you're never ready to act until you actually experience a real situation," said Davis. "We were hit on one of our last missions and we reacted just like in a battle drill."

"It really proved to me the benefit of doing those battle drills, and our guys reacted like they were supposed to do and they got it right," he added. "The Soldiers really feel good about getting out there and contributing to the safety of the EOD teams in the area of operations."

Rather than dreading or fearing missions, Soldiers of these EOD escort teams said they welcome the opportunity to get away from the camp.

"I like keeping all the troops safe, but I don't like being stuck inside (Camp Taji)," said Houston native, Spc. Allan Montoya, a communications specialist for who pulls security on one of the teams and also serves as a gunner, explaining that when Soldiers stay on a camp without going out, they tend to get a little stir crazy.

Montoya, no stranger to Iraq, served his last deployment near Sadr City where he worked forward operations base security and on convoys.

"Being outside the wire with my team is where I want to be, they're like my family," Montoya added.

"I love it," said Spc. Jody Ghisoiu, a medic and a native of Erie, Pa. "I don't like being stuck in a vehicle for 10 hours. When we're on the road, I want to be out there pulling security."

Even though she likes her primary military occupational specialty, Ghisoiu said she hopes there's no need for her services.

"If I'm doing my job, it means someone's been hurt or may die," said Ghisoiu. "You hope for the best, but if it comes down to it, I'll do anything I can to save a life."

Ghisoiu, who has two sons, is spending her first tour in Iraq. She said her first mission outside the gates of Taji in which she witnessed EOD's disposal of a huge weapons cache, left a lasting impression on her.

"The best part was getting the chance to see EOD blow all that stuff up before it had a chance to hurt someone," she said.

Page last updated Mon December 18th, 2006 at 09:48