FORT BLISS, Texas – An Explosive Ordnance Disposal platoon leader overcame a ruptured Achilles tendon injury and recovered to excel on the U.S. Army Combat Fitness Test.
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Christopher B. Washington from the 741st Ordnance Company (EOD) was recognized for scoring 586 out of 600 on the ACFT and named the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command Defender of the Week.
The Fort Bliss, Texas-based 741st EOD Company “Matadors” are part of the 3rd EOD Battalion, 71st EOD Group and 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the U.S. Department of Defense’s premier all hazards command.
From 19 bases in 16 states, the 20th CBRNE Command “Defenders” take on the world’s most dangerous hazards in support of joint, interagency and allied operations.
According to Washington, it normally takes a year to recover from a ruptured Achilles tendon.
“I’m still not fully recovered, but I am close,” said Washington. “I’d say the point where I felt close to normal after the injury was about seven to eight months.”
Washington said the key to his recovery and success at the ACFT was to steadily work toward his goals every day.
“I think the only way to improve on things you aren’t good at is to do them more. If it means lifting weights, running or calisthenics in your room, just do it more,” said Washington. “Once you take the ACFT and get your current baseline, set a new goal and work toward it.”
Originally from Phenix City, Alabama, Washington said he made specific fitness goals and stuck to them to recover as quickly as possible after his injury.
Before joining the U.S. Army, Washington graduated from Troy University in Troy, Alabama, with a degree in Criminal Justice and Digital Forensics.
Washington said he became an Explosive Ordnance Disposal officer because he wanted to serve around the brave, smart and tough Army EOD Soldiers who confront and defeat everything from hand grenades to nuclear weapons.
“I became an EOD officer to give myself a challenge and pursue a job that wasn’t ordinary,” said Washington. “I liked that the job involved interagency training, gaining a unique skillset and lots of opportunities to travel while meeting new people. So far, I’ve enjoyed being in EOD. Each day there’s a new mission or challenge to complete, and I work with very intelligent people. I’m proud to be EOD and represent this community.”
As the U.S. Army explosive experts, EOD technicians support both military operations and domestic authorities.
The Matadors deployed to Kuwait in 2019 and they respond when military munitions are discovered on and off base in nine counties in Texas, all of New Mexico and parts of Arizona.
Capt. Razzilee L. Oquendo, the commander of the 741st EOD Company, said Washington had done an outstanding job of balancing the conflicting demands of leading his platoon and recovering from his injury.
“I think that his road to recovery speaks not only to his grit and determination but also to his time management,” Oquendo, an 11-year Army veteran and graduate of Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville, Georgia, who is from St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. “He balances his physical therapy appointments with his everyday job phenomenally.”
Oquendo said that Washington’s commitment is an inspiration to the rest of her EOD Soldiers.
“Sometimes he comes in sore or in some pain but still manages to participate in training with the Soldiers,” said Oquendo. “The company respects him immensely and draws on his energy to work just as hard in their own jobs.”