By Sgt. Maj. Terry Anderson, 8th Theater Sustainment Command Public AffairsSeptember 16, 2009
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS (Sept. 15, 2009) -- U.S. Army, Hawaii\'s newest unit unfurled its colors during an activation ceremony here Tuesday.
Soldiers of the 303rd Ordnance Battalion (EOD) stood in formation on Hamilton Field as Col. Timothy Ryan, commander, 8th Sustainment Brigade (Provisional), and Command Sgt. Maj. Sean Branham, 303rd Ord. Bn. (EOD), uncased the battalion colors for the first time since the unit was inactivated in Germany in 1976.
"The activation of the 303rd is an acknowledgement by the Army that this capability is needed in the Pacific," said Col. Timothy Ryan, commander, 8th Sustainment Brigade (Provisional). "This battalion is not only full of technical experts, but also full of ambassadors who train demining teams from other nations, support events such as the Beijing Olympics, and brief dignitaries from other countries."
The 303rd Ordnance Battalion (EOD), a unit whose lineage goes back to World War Two, is one of eight explosive ordnance disposal battalions Army-wide, and the only one outside the continental United States. The battalion is comprised of the Headquarters, Headquarters Detachment and two companies: the 74th and the 706th. The 303rd will be a subordinate battalion of the 45th Sustainment Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command.
Ryan said that the Pacific Command theater of operations is huge, covering 55 percent of the earth's surface, including 36 countries. Lt. Col. Mark Bacon, commander, 303rd Ord. Bn. (EOD), said that Hawaii is the perfect place to activate this unit in order to support the PACOM mission, and added that the 303rd owes all of their success to their families and loved ones.
"The family is the cornerstone of our unit," he said. "Without their support we couldn't accomplish our mission."
Bacon said that the biggest challenge his unit faces in the short term is building the 303rd from scratch, but that EOD Soldiers are a special breed of 'can-do' personalities.
"It amazes me how good our EOD Soldiers really are," Bacon said. "We train our Soldiers in the schoolhouse at the staff sergeant level, both on the officer and enlisted side. Soldiers hit the ground running when they're presented with a challenge, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to serve in this outstanding battalion."