FORT STEWART, Georgia – Explosive Ordnance Disposal Soldiers from the Fort Stewart, Georgia-based 38th Ordnance Company (EOD) paid tribute to fallen EOD technicians at cemeteries in eastern Georgia, Sept. 18.
In one day, 1st Lt. Matthew C. Johnson, Capt. Jeremiah D. Worker, 1st Lt. Jill E. Bottarini and Sgt. 1st Class Eliot D. Bray placed flags at the gravesites for four different EOD technicians.
Johnson coordinated the visits to honor EOD technicians who served in the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, Vietnam and Iraq. Across eastern Georgia, they visited the Northside Cemetery in Pembroke, Bonaventure Cemetery in Thunderbolt, Oakland Cemetery in Waycross and Jesup City Cemetery in Jesup.
“Before attending school at the Virginia Military Institute, I had the privilege of meeting several Army EOD techs,” said Johnson. “Their intelligence and confidence in their craft along with the community that they fostered was a major driving factor. I was also driven by the desire to lead Soldiers whose primary mission is to protect personnel,” said Johnson.
A four-year Army veteran from Chester, Virginia, Johnson is the operations officer for the 38th EOD Company, which is part of the 184th EOD Company, 52nd EOD Group and 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command.
The Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-headquartered 20th CBRNE Command has Soldiers and civilians on 19 installations in 16 states who deploy to take on the world’s most dangerous weapons and hazards.
Johnson also participated in the 9/11 Memorial Run on Fort Stewart, Sept. 10, and he ran 4.2 miles in 59 minutes – in an 85-pound EOD bomb suit.
Johnson was recently named of the 52nd EOD Group Hero of the Week for his efforts.
According to Johnson, the EOD Memorial at the Naval EOD School on Elgin Air Force Base, Florida, inspired him every day when he was attending the school. He added that the memorial highlights the joint service nature of the EOD profession.
“The memorial has the names of EOD techs from all four service branches who have fallen in combat or performing their jobs as EOD techs,” said Johnson. “The memorial not only stands to commemorate the fallen but also a reminder that even though we belong to different branches of the military we all share a bond and community that goes beyond our respective military branches.”