By Staff Sgt. John C. GarverAugust 18, 2014
FORT A.P. Hill, Va.-- A three-Soldier team from the 706th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team earned the title 2014 EOD Team of the Year, Aug. 15 at Fort A.P. Hill, Va.
Five EOD teams--Soldiers trained to neutralize unexploded mines, artillery rounds, and other explosives--came together for the inaugural competition at the McMahon EOD Training Center, Aug. 11 -- 14.
The competition consisted of 14 challenges, testing each team on its ability to perform EOD tasks. They included responding to a report of an Improvised Explosive Device, an artillery round stuck in the barrel of a cannon, and a downed aircraft scenario.
The team from Hawaii; Staff Sgt. David Townsend, Sgt. Ryan Essenmacher, and Spc. Michael Rooney; mastered a grueling four-day event that tested them physically, mentally, and emotionally.
The first day consisted of a physical fitness test, followed by weapons qualification, and a series of written exams that tested their EOD knowledge.
The following day, the real challenges began: fourteen tests of stamina, skill and intellect. The tasks included a victim in a collar bomb, a stuck projectile in an artillery tube, and a downed aircraft in a minefield.
"I didn't think we were going to win, I'm ecstatic that we did," Townsend said during an interview with the Fort A.P. Hill Public Affairs Office. "It was extremely challenging mentally and physically."
Townsend said the team's win was due in large part to his Soldiers: Essenmacher and Rooney.
"They're the brains of the team," he said. "Without them I fail."
Rooney said that even though the competition was tough, he enjoyed it.
"It tested our skills," he said. "It was fun, especially with me being new to EOD. I learned a lot."
The four other teams that competed were: 25th Chemical Company, 48th Chemical Brigade, Edgewood, Md.; 53rd EOD Company, 71st EOD Group, Yakima Training Center, Wash.; 221st EOD Company, 111th Ordnance Group (Florida Army National Guard), Camp Blanding, Fla.; and the 723rd EOD Company, 52nd Ordnance Group, Fort Campbell, Ky.