FORT BRAGG, N.C. – Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians from the U.S. Army’s only EOD company solely designed to support Army Ranger and Special Forces missions marked the 11th anniversary of the company’s Airborne status with a record-breaking EOD parachute jump.
EOD Soldiers from the 28th EOD Company (Airborne) and other Airborne Soldiers recently celebrated the anniversary with the largest U.S. Army Airborne EOD technician jump in history at the Sicily Drop Zone on Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Maj. Stephen M. Knudsen, the commander of the 28th EOD Company, said 175 jumpers participated in the anniversary jump, with Airborne troops from the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Joint Special Operations Command, XVIII Airborne Corps, 82nd Airborne Division, 18th Air Support Operations Group and 192nd EOD Battalion.
Among the jumpers were 48 Army EOD technicians from the 28th EOD Company (Airborne) and three other EOD companies that are part of the 192nd EOD Battalion.
“Although this seems like a small number, it was the largest amount of EOD technicians to jump at a single time in Army EOD history,” said Knudsen. “The 192nd EOD Battalion supports the 82nd Airborne Division on a constant rotational basis, supporting each brigade and the Immediate Response Force mission year-round.”
The jump was originally scheduled to mark the 10th anniversary of Airborne status last year but was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Since a German jumpmaster participated in the event, 21 U.S. Army EOD Soldiers also earned German Jump Wings.
The 28th EOD Company is part of the 192nd EOD Battalion, 52nd EOD Group and 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the U.S. Department of Defense’s premier all hazards formation.
Headquartered on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the 20th CBRNE Command is home to 75 percent of the active-duty U.S. Army EOD technicians and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) 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. The multifunctional command has units on 19 bases in 16 states.
In June 2008, the 28th Ordnance Company (EOD) was activated at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and directed by the commander of 20th CBRNE Command to assume all current and future support to the 75th Ranger Regiment, the U.S. Army’s premier direct action raid force.
In 2012, the 28th EOD Company earned its status as the first ever Airborne EOD company.
A 14-year veteran from Sutter Creek, California, Knudsen said the Airborne EOD company has a rigorous selection process.
“Qualified EOD technicians submit a packet to attend assessment and selection, which is comprised of both mental and physical tests,” said Knudsen, who has deployed to Iraq once and Afghanistan three times. “If selected, they then move to Fort Bragg to attend the Direct Action Certification Course and upon completion are operationally employed in support of the 75th Ranger Regiment and Special Operations Command.”
Soldiers from the 28th EOD Company and 192nd EOD Battalion have deployed continuously to hot stops around the world to support military operations at the tip of the spear.
When assigned to the rotational Immediate Response Force mission, EOD technicians must stay ready to deploy within 18 hours.
“The 192nd supports Joint Forcible Entry as a member of the Immediate Response Force for the conventional forces, enabling division commanders to choose an airborne entry capability with a full spectrum of EOD technicians,” said Knudsen.
Purpose built to support the 75th Ranger Regiment, the 28th EOD Company has quietly earned numerous accolades during decades of combat operations. The unit’s EOD technicians have successfully conducted more than 5,200 operations in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan to date.
During the Global War on Terrorism up to this point, 28th EOD Company Soldiers have earned 32 valorous awards, including two Distinguished Service Crosses and 21 Purple Hearts.
“The 28th delivers an EOD capability that enables direct action Special Operations raids that consist of seizure of key terrain to include airfields, destruction of strategic facilities and precision no fail operations responsible for capturing or killing of high value targets with strategic importance,” said Knudsen. “Members of the 28th maintain a combat presence supporting Special Operations.”