MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Every time Staff Sgt. Derrick Kee puts on the heavy, cumbersome explosive ordnance disposal bomb suit, he is reminded of the important reasons that led him to where he is today.
Many members of Kee’s family have earned the title “U.S. Marine.” In 2008, Kee stepped onto the yellow footprints to continue that family legacy.
“I’m a third-generation Marine,” said Kee. “My father, grandfather, and grandmother all joined the Marine Corps. My grandfather went to Korea and Vietnam and got out in the 1980’s, and my dad was a linguist.”
Kee continued that heritage by enlisting in the Marine Corps in 2008. After a tour as a Marine Corps Security Force guard, he carried the legacy even further by becoming an explosive ordnance disposal technician.
It wasn’t a random decision.
“In 2011, I had a buddy who stepped on an improvised explosive device and lost both of his legs,” said Kee. That particular incident inspired Kee to switch his military occupational specialty three years ago to his current MOS as an EOD technician. Today he is assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, where he supports an EOD mission that works on both sides of the fence.
An explosive ordnance disposal technician is tasked with locating, accessing, identifying, rendering safe, neutralizing, and disposing of hazards from all manner of foreign and domestic unexploded explosive ordnance, IEDs and weapons of mass destruction that threaten operations, installations, personnel or materiel. That expertise is critical on the battlefield, but also highly valued by local law enforcement organizations who sometimes request EOD support.
According to Kee, he soon realized that being an EOD tech requires critical thinking and making careful, quick decisions on the spot.
“There’s delegation, but more initiative in your ability to think,” said Kee.
According to Kee, there are thousands of different types of ordnance in the U.S. arsenal that an EOD technician has to learn about, including foreign ordnance.
“There’s never a point where you are not learning something new,” said Kee. “That’s one of the best things about this MOS.”
To all Marines who are becoming or plan to become an EOD technician, Kee suggests being willing to learn, and not to become complacent. Always ask questions, stay physically fit and be a critical thinker.
When asked if he would ever have an interest in switching to another MOS, Kee exclaimed, “Never. This is it.”