FORT IRWIN, California – A seasoned U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician earned the Master EOD Badge on Fort Irwin, California, Sept. 14.
Staff Sgt. Gabriel M. Leon from the 759th Ordnance Company (EOD) earned the badge after eight years of service as an EOD technician.
“The other requirement is a dedication to the EOD career field, striving to learn as much as possible to live up to the badge,” said Leon.
The Master EOD Badge is the highest level badge for an enlisted EOD technician. Basic, Senior and Master are the three levels of the EOD badge, the only joint service occupational badge awarded by the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force.
Leon has served with the 759th EOD Company “Detonators” for four years. Prior to that, he was with the Fort Polk, Louisiana-based 705th EOD Company, Fort Stewart, Georgia-based 766th EOD Company and Yongsan Garrison, South Korea-based 718th EOD Company.
A nine-year U.S. Army veteran who has deployed to Iraq and Kuwait, Leon has responded to more than 100 explosives during overseas military operations and on domestic mitigation missions.
Leon said serving as an EOD team leader has been one of the highlights of his time in the profession.
“My first few responses as a team leader are my most memorable,” said Leon, who is from Galva, Illinois. “They both involved a lot of coordination with other units, as well as critical thinking. For me, it really showcased the aspects of the team leader position that are not really seen until you are in the position.”
The 759th EOD Company is part of the 3rd EOD Battalion, 71st EOD Group and 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command.
Headquartered on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, 20th CBRNE Command Soldiers and civilians deploy from 19 military bases in 16 states to take on the world’s most dangerous weapons.
The Fort Irwin-based 759th EOD Company supports U.S. Army maneuver units participating in decisive action rotations at the National Training Center on this Army installation in California’s Mojave Desert.
According to 1st Sgt. James R. Bohanon, the senior enlisted leader for the 759th EOD Company, the Master EOD Badge demonstrates expertise in their high stakes profession.
“Earning the Master EOD Badge illuminates an individual’s dedication to the mastery of their craft and through mentoring to the field as a whole,” said Bohanon, an 18-year veteran from Belleville, Illinois, who has deployed to Afghanistan once and Iraq four times. “They are the individuals that folks go to with problems and are provided guidance and solutions.”