SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- Three two-man explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams competed for top honors in the U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) level EOD Team of the Year competition, January 18-25 at various locations around the island of Oahu.
Competing teams were chosen by their respective units based on their individual and collective abilities to perform under physically and mentally demanding challenges in decisive-action environments.
The teams were evaluated on the tactical and technical skills expected of an EOD technician. It also gave leaders the opportunity to assess ammunition, maintenance and EOD professionals across the institutional Army, operational force and individual leader development domains.
"This competition allows us to assess how we are doing in the institutional Army, training our professionals and seeing how the units in the field continue to build upon the training that's gained in a decisive-action and competitive training environment," said Staff Sgt. Xavier Steinhart, 74th Ordnance Company (EOD), 303rd Ordnance Battalion (EOD), 8th Military Police Brigade.
Steinhart, EOD team leader and Sgt. Benjamin Livesay, EOD team member, both assigned to 74th Ord. Co, 303rd Ord. BN, 8th MP BDE was proclaimed the winners at USARPAC EOD Team of the Year competition, and will go on to compete at the Department of the Army Team of the Year.
"EOD is more than blowing things up … This competition brings us together to look at all the tasks to see how we are doing, see what we need to refine, and sharpen our accuracies -- then move out," added Steinhart.
Steinhart and Livesay train together on different EOD scenarios, running through different techniques and studying the EOD publications and all tasks associated with each event.
"We train as much as we can together in our two-man team for each competition and try to identify our shortcomings and train on those," said Livesay. "These competitions are basically free training for us, running through different scenarios that we might have never seen before and they better prepare us in our skillset."
Steinhart and Livesay said they will use feedback and lessons learned from the various scenarios as they continue to train and prepare for the Department of the Army Team of the Year competition in Virginia later this year.
"Over the next five months we will come up with a training plan to hone in on our weaknesses and explore different processes," added Livesay.
"The competition offers a first-hand view on the readiness of the EOD community across the force," said Sgt. First Class Ryan Jaminet, Operations NCO, 303rd OD BN (EOD).
Being the best EOD technician takes patience, and the ability to remain calm and consistently assessing the situation while approaching the task, said Jaminet.
Steinhart said that although the events are physically challenging, it's important for us to have mental strength and to understand how to work as a team.
"It's important to have resiliency when you are going through hours of back-to back events and making decisions when you are tired and hurting," he explained. "You also have to be a team player because one person doesn't win the competition, both of the individuals have to execute every single task together to collectively win."
Livesay said that the biggest thing they brought to the competition is their ability to work well together with limited delay.
"As a team, we continuously worked through our processes in different ways to approach each task, and as a result, it helped us excel in the competition," added Livesay.