Air Force

August 28, 2014

End of an era: AF EOD mission wraps up in Afghanistan

Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) — There have been 20 rotations of more than 600 explosive ordnance disposal technicians who have left their mark in the history of Operation Enduring Freedom since the 2004 inception of the 466th EOD Operating Location Bravo Flight here.

With more than 10,000 missions completed, Aug. 19 marked the unit’s final mission. Although they completed the last Air Force EOD mission in Afghanistan, the unit still has a retrograde mission to support in order to officially close. As their last chapter closes in September 2014, the flight’s final rotation is ensuring all assets are returned and their history remembered upon their departure.

“Our impact to Operation Enduring Freedom has been huge,” said Capt. Justin Shultz, the 466th EOD Operating Location Bravo Flight executive officer, deployed from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. “Because of our abilities and technical expertise, I feel like we have become one of the front line EOD units in Afghanistan during our time here. The main weapon of choice by insurgents is improvised explosive devices, therefore we had a huge impact on operations, without us it would have been harder for infantry units and transportation to get out and do their jobs.”

Air Force EOD units in southern Afghanistan were originally part of Joint Task Force Paladin in 2001; three years later the 466th EOD Operating Location Bravo flight was created. During their tenure here, the unit supported Kandahar Airfield force protection and provided response for explosive hazard threats. The flight also had EOD technicians operating from six different forward bases in the surrounding area in the past years.

“Our unit responded to any explosive hazard on and off base, such as unexploded ordnances, improvised explosive devices and post blasts,” said Shultz, a native of Ashland, Missouri. “After a vehicle is hit, our job is to go out and determine why it happened. And, if a new tactic was used, then we try to develop a counter measure to advise battle space owners on what they can to do mitigate that risk.”

During the years, the unit created many memorials honoring those who served in the unit and the eight who died. They hope to preserve the unit’s legacy by keeping and shipping the memorials to the Air Force Civil Engineer Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

“One thing we made sure before we left was to clean and send back all the plaques and memorials that were made for our fallen EOD brothers,” Shultz said. “This was the member’s way of coping so we want the plaques to be dispersed to the other flights, family and friends. We don’t want to leave anything behind because when we leave here no one is going to know what this place was, and what it meant.

“The support personnel with EOD are instrumental in getting all the retrograde done in the proper time frame,” he continued. “I have seen here how the retrograde process can be done right. We have been fortunate to have a great support staff that takes care of us while we take care of the mission. “

The retrograde process includes a request of equipment disposition to either dispose of or return EOD assets to their respective home station.

“We started the process in April, and we finally hit end of mission Aug. 19,” said Tech. Sgt. Stacy Trosine, the 466th EOD Operating Location Bravo Flight logistics management NCO-in-charge, deployed from Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. “Now we are finishing turning things in through customs and getting it back to the states.”

According to Trosine, a native of Colbert, Washington, the unit has about $30 million worth of combined Army and Air Force assets that need to be returned. Some will return to Army accounts and some shipped to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, the EOD retrograde facility.

“Here we have both Air Force and Army assets, I had to learn how the Army disposition process works,” Trosine said. “I have also never closed down a unit, but it has been great to see how everything goes.”

According to Trosine, with 14 years’ worth of accumulated assets, it’s not only mission equipment but also communication gear, office supplies, and furniture that needs to be retrograded. Before any of the equipment is returned, it must be cleaned, inventoried and properly packed to be cleared through customs.

Taking accountability of items that have been part of history is an experience Trosine said he finds exciting.

“To be part of history is great,” Trosine said. “When I am inventorying the items, the EOD techs explain to me what some of the equipment is used for, and it is amazing to see and learn how all of these tools have helped save the lives of the techs out there.”

According to Shultz, being part of the last Air Force EOD unit in Afghanistan has been bittersweet.

“It’s bittersweet because we didn’t get to do as much of the fast paced operations as our previous EOD brothers, but at the same time that’s good because it means we did our job correctly by making it safer for everyone out here,” he said.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
(U.S. Air Force Photo by 2nd Lt. Lacey Roberts)

Arizona Airmen memorialize fallen Iraqi fighter pilot

Members of the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Wing honored the life and memory of Iraqi Air Force Brig. Gen. Rasid Mohammed Sideeq Hasan during a memorial service here July 7. Hasan died June 24 after his F-16 Fighting Fa...
 
 

Deployed A-10s take to the skies

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano) An aircraft maintainer assigned to the 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron inspects the oil levels of an A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft engine during a theater security package deployment to Lask Air Base, Poland, July 13. The U.S. and Polish air forces will conduct training aimed at...
 
 

Airmen leverage TFI concept

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. – Thirty-eight service members, including individuals from the 944th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal section, participated in a Battlefield Forensics training course here at the end of June. Together, Senior Master Sgt. Stephen Hunter, 944th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD program manager and Joshua Nason, General Dynamics Information Technology ...
 

 

Celebration and education; Equal Opportunity

  In 1948, Ester Blake became the first enlisted female in the U.S. Air Force, pictures were still black and white, and families gathered around radios for the evening news. Since then, the U.S. Air Force has gone through many changes. The Davis-Monthan Equal Opportunity office specializes in making sure that everyone is treated equally...
 
 
DoD

Final rule puts more teeth into Military Lending Act

  WASHINGTON – The Defense Department today closed loopholes to protect U.S. men and women in uniform from predatory lending practices, President Barack Obama said this morning at the 116th Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The heightened level of financial and consumer-rights protection against unscrupulous practices, called the final rule of...
 
 

AF continues to work with DOD, OPM on cybersecurity incident

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Air Force maintains its commitment to protect personal information from cyber threats by continuing efforts with the Defense Department and the Office of Personnel Management to assist those impacted by the recent cyber incident involving federal background investigation data. OPM and an interagency response team, including investigators from the FBI and...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>