By Andrea Sutherland (Fort Carson)May 2, 2013
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Cadets crowded around Staff Sgt. Christopher Thompson as he gathered materials into a cardboard box.
"Do you guys have your cargo pockets filled with happiness?" he asked, strapping on his Kevlar.
The cadets nodded.
"Then let's go," Thompson said, walking down to the blast area on Range 121.
There, five senior cadets from the U.S. Air Force Academy worked alongside Thompson and other Soldiers with 663rd Ordnance Company, 242nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion, 71st Ordnance Group (EOD), prepping C4 charges for detonation.
"I'm excited to see this go off," said Cadet 1st Class Dan Gunderson. "It's a lot simpler than I thought it would be -- just load the container and ignite it."
Gunderson, along with the other cadets in the engineering capstone course, participated in the hands-on demolition range as part of a culminating project on explosive modeling and its effects on aircraft systems, said Air Force Maj. Scott Stanford, instructor, Air Force Academy.
"This supports our learning objectives, and it gets all the senses involved," Stanford said, adding that the majority of the coursework had been computer-based.
For the course, cadets researched how certain explosions would impact aircraft and its functionality, composing a 50-page report on their findings.
The April 24 demolition day allowed cadets to visualize and physically study the impacts of those explosives.
"I've learned a lot about what this problem actually entails," said Cadet 1st Class Dan Derby.
Derby said he plans to go to pilot training after he graduates in May and the course, coupled with the EOD training, provided him with the knowledge of how an aircraft can operate if hindered by explosives.
"Knowing what you can do with your equipment, that's really important," he said.
For EOD Soldiers, the joint services training provided them with an opportunity to strengthen their skills.
"It's good to have the younger team members talk through the basics and teach others," Thompson said.
As the unit prepares for a summer deployment to Afghanistan, Thompson said the training will serve his Soldiers well.
"We have a teaching mission over there," he said. "So the more practice we get, the better we'll be."