Three Soldiers assigned to the 630th Ordnance Company, 84th Ordnance Battalion (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), 71st Ordnance Group, competed in the third annual Department of the Army Ordnance Corps EOD Team of the Year Competition hosted by Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, Sept. 12-16. The team placed second overall.
Sgt. Zachary McDaniel, Staff Sgt. Christian Mason and Spc. Ryan Stratis also competed in and took first place during the 71st Ordnance Group Team of the Year competition June 20-24 at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. More than 300 EOD teams across the military competed, but only the top six went on to represent their units.
"We weren't the best, but I'm pretty happy with the results," McDaniel said. "Coming in second out of the top six teams, and 300 teams across the military isn't bad at all."
Each team consisted of three people who worked together to accomplish their mission through various simulated situations. The purpose of the event was to train, evaluate and assess the most effective tactics, techniques and procedures employed by the operational field against a spectrum of EOD operations.
"Having the ability to have firsthand experience with this training and competing against other EOD teams gave me teaching tools to take back to my future Soldiers," McDaniel, an Anadarko, Oklahoma, native, said.
The three teammates explained that even though this was their first time competing in the DA competition, they did far better than they thought they would, especially while their main focus was on their battalion inactivating.
The 84th EOD inactivated Sept. 30 at Fort Riley. Out of the three EOD companies within the battalion assigned to Fort Riley, two will remain -- the 630th and 774th Ordnance Companies.
"We did better that I thought we would do," Stratis, of Richmond, Virginia, said. "I think we were kind of the underdogs going into the competition because we were coming from a battalion that was in the process of shutting down. So it was more of a focus on that being a priority than us training and preparing for the competition."
The Soldiers credited their cohesiveness as a team for their success. Mason said even though he is losing one of the Soldiers, due to McDaniel moving, he is excited that Stratis, who he worked well with, will remain.
"I'm proud of my team," Mason, a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, native said. "We worked really hard and well together."
All three team members are recipients of the prestigious Ordnance Order of Samuel Sharpe Award for their demonstrated integrity, moral character and professional competence.