By Airman 1st Class Jamie Titus | 155th Air Refueling Wing, Nebraska Air National GuardJuly 25, 2018
LINCOLN, Neb. - Three explosive ordnance disposal technicians from the 155th Civil Engineer Squadron of the Nebraska Air National Guard responded to a call from the Omaha Police Department's Bomb Squad after a military ordnance was turned in on the OPD's firework amnesty day, July 12 in Omaha.
On an amnesty day, anyone can turn in illegal items such as weapons, fireworks or military ordnance without the fear of reprisal.
The Omaha Police Department called the EOD flight to look over and dispose of the military ordnance because EOD is responsible for any military ordnance, no matter how old or new it is.
"EOD is responsible for all military ordnance from cradle to grave and that includes stuff as old as ordnance from the civil war," said Tech Sgt. Mike Gibson, an EOD technician with the 155th Civil Engineer Squadron. "If it was made by the military at any point in time, we're responsible for it."
Once EOD gets to the location, they begin assessing the ordnance by looking for any markings or nomenclature, and taking measurements to identify what kind of ordnance it is. In this case, the ordnance had no visible markings and was an 8-inch diameter projectile. EOD will then take it to a demolition range for disposal.
"We transport it in the safest manner we can," said Gibson. "We'll wrap it in a bomb blanket, which is a Kevlar blanket; we're going to sandbag it to keep it from moving around, and will secure it in place."
After loading the ordnance onto their truck, EOD headed to the Nebraska Army National Guard's Greenlief Training Site near Hastings, Nebraska, where the Army National Guard allows them to use a demolition range to safely dispose of the ordnance.
"We counter-charge it with our own explosives so that we can detonate it in a controlled manner," said Gibson.
The ordnance that EOD disposed of was not live, meaning it did not have any explosives inside of it, but Gibson said if it had been live, the ordnance could destroy an entire house and send off large pieces of shrapnel. The owner modified the ordnance by welding two bars onto the side and used it as a door stop for his barn before turning it into the OPD. These modifications caused concerns for the EOD technicians as to how safe the ordnance was.
"When the ordnance is degraded to the point this one was with no markings, you don't know if it's live or not, and if it is, you don't know what could set that off," said Gibson. "Maybe you just picked it up and dropped it the right way, and that's the day it decided it was going to blow up. So they're just unsafe; these things are weapons of war, not door stops."
It is recommended to not keep ordnance like this around the home.
"Inherently these [ordnance] are dangerous, if they've been sitting on a shelf for a hundred years or if they've been in somebody's basement, regardless of it, they can be dangerous and still kill people long after they get taken off the battlefield," said Senior Airman Isaac Maytum, an EOD technician with the 155th Civil Engineer Squadron.
EOD is responsible for the disposal of military ordnance but also supports local law enforcement agencies, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation by disposing of ordnance or supporting the secret service in locating hazards to VIPs.
In order to provide these services, EOD must conduct training to include annual, semi-annual, monthly and supplementary. This includes classroom and hands-on training needed to conduct their job such as mission requirements, identifying ordnance and their function and how to respond to varying situations in the field.
"On base we're responsible for [Improvised Explosive Devices], nuclear, biological, chemical, anything like that," said Gibson.
This EOD flight is 1 out of 17 EOD flights in the National Guard and the only military EOD unit in Nebraska.
Gibson added that the unit is also responsible for ordnance off base, within four to five hours in each direction, and will respond with the base commander's permission for anything like IEDs, labs, or Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Gibson said EOD helps in keeping environments safe, but ultimately the importance of their job is saving lives.