MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Sandy, desolate and peppered with craters, the air station’s range for explosive ordnance disposal would look like the surface of the moon, if the moon had a few more weeds. Craters of all sizes dot the grounds, the range’s battle wounds from tons of detonated explosives throughout the years.
On March 31, a lone set of tread marks from a utility vehicle crossed this lunarscape, their apparent destination, a grassy berm on the range’s edge.
Behind that knoll, more than a dozen Marines huddled in a concrete bunker, waiting for the boom.
“Shot,” said Master Sgt. Todd M. Corbin, in concert with the thunderous rumble from the explosion. Corbin, the platoon sergeant for Cherry Point’s EOD, said he needs no timer to anticipate when the blast will strike, a feat he attributes to years of experience.
EOD technicians conducted demolition operations training at the range to help prepare Marines waiting to begin certification training at the Naval School, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Detachment at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. EOD is a unique military occupational specialty, made entirely of sergeants and above who have transferred into the field.
“To come to EOD, you have to want to be here, you have to work hard to stay here,” said Sgt. Derek S. Kirk, who said his training at Eglin is scheduled to begin May 7. “It’s nice to be around people who like their jobs.”
And on the warm spring day in late March, the prospective EOD technicians seemed to relish the opportunity to prepare themselves for what many consider to be one of the most demanding training regimens in the Department of Defense.
“It was good training, and it was productive,” said Sgt. Ryan C. Butts, who will travel to Eglin for training in August. “Any time you get the opportunity to add to your toolbox, you want to jump at the chance. EOD is a rewarding field and a close-knit community. I’m looking forward to becoming a part of it.”