PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - Four sailors from Naval Weapons Station Earle in Colts Neck were recognized for their efforts by Picatinny's garrison commander during a ceremony here April 17.

Navy Lt. Nicholas Boccagna, Senior Chief Petty Officer James Winkle, and Petty Officers 1st Class Todd Hammond and Brian Hopkins were each awarded an Army Achievement Medal for an unexploded ordnance removal operation here March 16 - 19. Petty Officer 1st Class David Hawxhurst also received the award, but was not in attendance.

Picatinny Garrison Commander Lt. Col. John P. Stack presented the sailors with their awards in recognition of the removal and neutralization of more than 200 ordnance items.

The removal was conducted in an enclosed and restricted site here. It is at this site construction for a new range and test facilities for Navy munitions research and development operations will be developed.

The project was done in accordance with a base realignment and closure that would see a large portion of the staff at Earle relocate here.

"The EOD team's efforts have greatly enhanced the Department of Defense efforts to develop and improve our weapons systems in direct support of our forces deployed forward in hostile fire zones," said James Smith, a safety and UXO coordinator here.

To date, three areas here are known to contain improved convention munitions contamination. With the removal done by the sailors, two of the three area have been cleared, with the third anticipated being completed in July by the Army Corps of Engineers.

When it was discovered that there were possible improved convention munitions and unexploded ordnance at range 647, the Navy EOD team responded through an inter service support request, Smith said.

After the team removed all the ordnance it was then declared safe for a contracting team to go on site to begin construction of the new Navy facilities.

"These guys are heroes, much like our own EOD guys here," Stack said, adding that the sailors not only saved the department of defense a lot of money, but that they may have also helped to save lives.