FORT SILL, Okla. – U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians cleared a path to a historic mountaintop building that helps to keep artillery units on target.
The 761st Ordnance Company (EOD) conducted a two-day range clearance operation to enable 40 senior leaders from the U.S. Army Fires Center of Excellence to visit Block House, a historic building that was built around 1870.
“Block House has been used as a reference point to locate and fire on targets,” said Capt. Matthew J. Piranian, the commander of the 761st EOD Company. “Just about every artilleryman in the Army uses the Block House as a reference point during their training at Fort Sill, making it a famous landmark.” The Block House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
Making the site accessible for the leadership development visit was an all-hands effort for the EOD company, according to Piranian.
“We had every EOD tech in the company out for this one, which is currently 15, including platoon and company leadership,” said Piranian, a native of Tewksbury, Massachusetts, who has deployed to Afghanistan. “There were about 145 unexploded rounds on the path — old 75mm rounds, 105mm rounds, 155mm rounds, 8-inch artillery rounds and even mortars.”
On the first day of the clearance mission, the EOD Soldiers placed a 3,000-foot detonation cord along the most feasible path to the Block House site.
After marking all of the unexploded rounds, the EOD Soldiers placed C-4 on the rounds and tied charges to the main detonation cord. On the second day, the EOD technicians hiked the mountain again and blew a path through the unexploded rounds.
The Fort Sill, Oklahoma-based 761st EOD Company is part of the 79th EOD Battalion, 71st EOD Group and 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the U.S. Department of Defense’s premier all hazards formation.
The Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-headquartered 20th CBRNE Command is home to 75 percent of the active duty U.S. Army’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear specialists, as well as the 1st Area Medical Laboratory, CBRNE Analytical and Remediation Activity, five Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordination Teams and three Nuclear Disablement Teams.
From 19 bases in 16 states, Soldiers and civilians from 20th CBRNE Command take on the world’s most dangerous hazards in support of allied, interagency and joint partners.
Army EOD technicians from the 761st EOD Company deploy for overseas military operations and domestic explosive mitigation missions while conducting target insertion, range clearance and fire break clearance missions for U.S. Army field artillery and air defense artillery units.
Piranian said the clearance mission was an example of the strong relationship his Soldiers have built with the Fires Center of Excellence.
“This operation took a great deal of coordination with other organizations across Fort Sill, which allowed us to go from planning to execution in only a few weeks,” said Piranian. “It really shows how much the Fires Center of Excellence trusts the 761st to get things done. Building great relationships and integrating with organizations across the installation definitely made a huge difference in our ability to quickly and safely execute the mission.”