ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, Va. – Leaders from the U.S. military’s premier all hazards command paid tribute to fallen Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, Sept. 23.
Command Sgt. Maj. Jorge Arzabala, Col. Christopher P. Bartos and John W. Bestall represented the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command at an event that honored Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who served as EOD technicians.
Headquartered on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the 20th CBRNE Command is home to 75 percent of the active-duty Army EOD and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) Soldiers, as well as the 1st Area Medical Laboratory, CBRNE Analytical and Remediation Activity, five Weapons of Mass Destruction Teams and three Nuclear Disablement Teams.
Soldiers and U.S. Army civilians from 20th CBRNE Command deploy from 19 bases in 16 states to confront and defeat the world’s most dangerous hazards in support of joint, interagency and allied operations.
The event involved active duty, former and retired EOD technicians from the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps.
Among the dignitaries at the event were retired Lt. Gen. Reynold N. Hoover, the former deputy commander of U.S. Northern Command, and Maj. Gen. Heidi J. Hoyle, the director of operations for the U.S. Army’s deputy chief of staff for logistics.
Hoyle is the current senior active-duty Explosive Ordnance Disposal officer in the U.S. Army and Hoover served as an EOD officer.
During the two-day event, the participants placed biodegradable wooden discs on the graves of the more than 320 EOD technicians currently buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
The leaders at the event also honored more than 80 EOD techs who are missing in action by placing a special EOD wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
John W. Bestall, the chief of Force Management and Manpower at 20th CBRNE Command, said the highlight was “seeing the service and sacrifices made by the joint EOD community from World War II through the Global War on Terrorism.”
A retired EOD sergeant major from Phoenix, Bestall deployed to Iraq twice, Afghanistan twice and Kuwait once during his 24-year U.S. Army career.
The U.S. Army EOD community marked its 80th anniversary in April 2022, the month when EOD Soldiers first began training at the Bomb Disposal School on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the headquarters base for 20th CBRNE Command today.
Col. Christopher P. Bartos, the 20th CBRNE Command operations officer and the senior Explosive Ordnance Disposal officer at the command, said some of the EOD technicians at Arlington National Cemetery died on active duty while others passed away after serving.
“We need to remember those who paved the path before us,” said Bartos, a native of Edgewater, Florida.