Story by Sgt. Melissa N. Lessard, III Corps Public Affairs
Photos by Staff Sgt. Daniel Herman
During the early morning hours on Dec. 17, the 797th Explosive Ordinance Disposal Company, 71st EOD Group, participated in their specialized physical training event with a special guest for the day was none other than the United Kingdom’s with Maj. Gen Michael Keating who is also the deputy commander for support of III Corps and Fort Hood.
Keating told the 15 Soldiers that they have humbling, impressive jobs and he wanted to get to know them better.
“I want to see what makes you tick,” he said. “No pun intended to the EOD program.”
The Soldiers participated in a rigorous exercise circuit which included running with their 80lb bomb suit. They worked as a four-person team. One Soldier ran with the bomb suit while the others ran with mock explosive devices, a total of two miles during the event.
Keating, who is well over six-feet-tall, ran with the roughly 80lb suit on. “That was difficult,” he exclaimed. "Wearing the suit was an unforgettable experience. It is big, heavy, and bulky. While I only wore it for a quarter mile it was really hard work from the outset."
Keating said he was grateful for the support of his spotter and the other team mates as they struggled around the route.
“We like to do some sort of hard training in the bomb suit,” said Staff Sgt. Tyler Jeck, EOD team leader. “It is more realistic to the job.”
As far as their jobs go, they respond to local threats in and around the installation. When deployed, they are responsible for freedom of maneuver, such as removing explosive hazards that may impede U.S. forces.
Soldiers who are a part of the EOD program are technical and tactical experts in explosive devices. They prepare and use advanced robotics, dispose of hazardous objects, and perform missions in support of Army units.
Keating said he is struck by the technical requirements of the role and the intelligence Soldiers that undertake the task.
"There is no room for error and they know that of themselves and of each other," he said. "The standards and pride this drives in the team is extraordinary."
One of the most exciting parts of the job, the EOD team leader Jeck said, is when someone is in need and it deals with a safety issue. He likes to be the person they call
Within the next couple of years the EOD experts can look forward to a new type of suit which is lighter weight and provides more protection and maneuverability. This means the next time a general from across the pond visits for physical training, he or she will have an easier time.
"I had a great time doing PT with the EOD team," said Keating. "I felt very welcome and was struck by what a tight, cohesive team they all are. Each team mate knew their role and understood the importance of looking out for each other; invaluable when it comes to a role which is as important as EOD."