Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians from the Fort Irwin, Calif.,-based 759th Ordnance Company “Detonators” earned first place in the all-Army EOD Team of the Year competition on Fort Carson, Colo., May 15-19, 2022.
The winning team, Staff Sgt. Mark S. Owens and Spec. Brady L. Dunn, represented the 759th EOD Company, 3rd EOD Battalion, 71st EOD Group and 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command in the all-Army competition.
Staff Sgt. Lesley S. Raynor and Spec. Shannon D. Russell from the Camp Humphreys, South Korea-based 718th Ordnance Company (EOD), 23rd Chemical Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade, Eighth Army, came in second place.
Staff Sgt. Billy McCoy and Sgt. Micah K. Miler from the 722nd Ordnance Company (EOD), 192nd Ordnance Battalion (EOD), 52nd EOD Group, took third place.
The other top EOD teams in the competition were Staff Sgt. Ronald N. Helsel and Staff Sgt. Isaac Bocanegra from the 9th CBRNE Company (Technical Escort), 110th Chemical Battalion (Technical Escort), 48th Chemical Company, and Staff Sgt. Sean J. Splittstoesser and Spc. Tyler L. Orvik from the Schofield Barracks, Hawaii-based 303rd EOD Battalion.
The winning team earned Meritorious Service Medals, championship belts and a chance to skydive with the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team, among many other awards. Owens and Dunn serve in the Fort Irwin, Calif.,-based EOD company where they routinely defeat explosives across a training area almost as large as the state of Rhode Island.
This year, the competition had a special meaning since the U.S. Army EOD profession is marking its 80th anniversary.
The first Bomb Squad personnel in the U.S. Army began training on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, in April 1942. One of the original Army Bomb Disposal technicians who trained on Aberdeen Proving Ground was among the more than 30 distinguished visitors at the all-Army competition on May 19. Gerald “Jerry” D. Simon, a 99-year-old veteran who graduated from the Bomb Disposal course in 1944, served in the Pacific until 1946.
On hold since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the all-Army EOD competition returned this year, hosted by the 71st EOD Group and 20th CBRNE Command.
Headquartered on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., the 20th CBRNE Command is home to 75 percent of Active Duty 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.
Soldiers and civilians from 20th CBRNE Command deploy from 19 bases in 16 states to take on world’s most dangerous hazards in support of joint, interagency and allied operations.
EOD forces have rendered safe more than 100,000 improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2006 and have trained thousands of host nation forces.
During the three-day competition, the five Army EOD teams took on 11 very challenging training lanes that included everything from a stress shoot and a downed Unmanned Aerial System to an unexploded bomb and a helicopter assault on a sensitive site. The teams were tested on their ability to enable lethality and safeguard U.S. forces around the world and to support domestic response missions across the nation.
Maj. Gen. Antonio V. Munera, the commanding general of 20th CBRNE Command, thanked the 71st EOD Group for hosting the competition and giving the top U.S. Army EOD teams a chance to prove their mettle during challenging and realistic training scenarios.
“While the 71st EOD Group team earned bragging rights this year, the real winner of this competition was the Army. Through this tough training, our teams are more ready to conduct their high stakes missions, whenever and wherever they are needed,” said Munera, a native of Fairfax, Va. “This competition demonstrated what I already knew: we have some of the bravest, smartest and toughest Soldiers in our EOD ranks and they make us proud every day.”