By Walter T. Ham IV, 20th CBRNE Command Public AffairsApril 10, 2015
FORT BLISS, Texas -- A U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Soldier earned a gold German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge during the recent qualification course here on Fort Bliss, Texas.
Pfc. Austin C. Mahon, an EOD technician from the 741st EOD Company, scored gold during all five days of the grueling qualification process.
From the field of 118 candidates that began the course, Mahon placed fifth overall among the 68 finishers.
Run by the Fort Bliss-based German Air Defense Command and established in 2009, the five-day German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge Qualification Course includes swimming, running, pull up and marksmanship events. The course culminates with an 8-mile march carrying a 40-pound pack. To earn gold in the qualification, a candidate has to score gold every day.
The Fort Bliss-based 741st EOD Company is part of the 84th EOD Battalion, 71st EOD Group, 20th CBRNE Command, the Defense Department's only multifunctional formation that combats global CBRNE threats.
Together with the Fort Bliss-based 734th EOD Company, the 741st EOD Company covers the 992,000 acres of training area on Fort Bliss and White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, the largest combined training area in the U.S. Army Forces Command footprint. The EOD companies also support federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in New Mexico, Arizona and the nine western most counties of Texas.
Mahon's success in the qualification course demonstrated the caliber of the Soldiers serving in the company, said 741st EOD Company 1st Sgt. Robert E. Hood.
"Pfc. Mahon's strong performance in the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge Qualification Course is a testament not only to his raw talent and commitment to excellence but also to the noncommissioned officers and officers of the 741st EOD Company who train, shape and develop our Soldiers every day," said Hood.
Mahon said he signed up for the qualification course because he likes to challenge himself.
"I live for any opportunity to test my abilities," said Mahon, a native of Havana, Florida. "I really enjoy seeing how I match up to my peers and our allies."
For his next challenges, Mahon is pursuing a college degree and hopes to attend the Fort Bliss Air Assault School.
Mahon said he always knew he wanted to be an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician.
"From the time I was a little kid, I always wanted to be on the bomb squad. Other kids wanted to be firefighters or football players but I wanted to work with ordnance," said Mahon. "As I got older, I knew I wanted to enlist in the military. So Explosive Ordnance Disposal was no question the job for me."
Since arriving at Fort Bliss in January 2014, Mahon said he has enjoyed working with law enforcement agents to eliminate explosive threats.
"I honestly enjoy what I do and the people I get to work with," said Mahon. "Every week, we respond to new exciting situations. Whether it is a truck full of 40mm rounds that scrappers have picked up, a semi full of ordnance in a junk yard or a line of misfired Mine Clearing Line Charges, no response is ever the same."