By Staff Sgt. Gaelen Lowers, 8th Theater Sustainment CommandJune 26, 2014
BETHESDA, Md. (June 26, 2014) -- In April 2012, Staff Sgt. Chris Walker, a former team leader with the 706th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 303rd EOD Battalion out of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, was hit with an improvised explosive device during a post-blast investigation, while deployed to Afghanistan.
He was thrown 30 feet by a blast intended to take out armored vehicles. He lost both arms and his left leg. His facial bones were shattered; his eye muscles had to be reattached; and his eardrums were ruptured.
Despite the near-death experience, Walker continued to set the example as an non-commissioned officer.
Now, two years later, that continuous dedication was recognized by top leaders in the EOD community as they presented him with the Master EOD Badge during a ceremony June 11, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center here.
It is the only occupational badge awarded across the Department of Defense and reflects the highest rating an EOD service member can receive.
Maj. Gen. Edward F. Dorman III, the deputy G4 for the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, and Brig. Gen. John F. Haley, the chief of Ordnance and Ordnance School commandant, presented the badge to Walker.
"It was a tremendous privilege to be able to present Walker his master rating," said Dorman. "He has always been an inspiration to those he taught at the EOD school, and to his fellow team members during his deployments. He has such a phenomenal attitude and outlook on life. He truly is an amazing, impressive, and resilient Soldier."
As an EOD team leader, it was Walker's job to lead in the identification and safe disposal of conventional ordnance and improvised explosive devices, known as IEDs; assist in the protection of coalition forces and civilians from the effects of explosive hazards; act as the subject matter expert for all explosive hazards and counter-IED tools; and most importantly protect the lives of his fellow team members.
Through months of frustration and hardship during recovery, Walker still exhibited those leader traits impacting the troops surrounding him at Walter Reed, with his positive attitude and energy.
"Being injured is not the end of your life," Walker told a news agency in Virginia. "You just have to keep trying. If you don't try, it's not going to get better."
Dorman expressed his confidence in Walker, his abilities, and the goals he has set for himself.
"He has plans, and I have no doubt he will accomplish anything he sets his mind to," he said.
Approaching his 11th year of service, Walker intends to continue his life in the Army.