Fallen honored at EOD memorial ceremony

  • Published
  • By Lois Walsh
  • 96th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Hundreds of people paid homage to fallen explosive ordnance disposal technicians May 5 during the 43rd annual EOD Memorial Ceremony here.

The names of five Soldiers, three Sailors, five Marines and five Airmen were added to the memorial wall in a solemn ceremony attended by family, friends and co-workers of the technicians. All the honorees were killed in action in operations while deployed overseas.

This year's keynote speaker, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, spoke of the professionalism of all EOD technicians and of their important role in contingencies around the world.

"I am proud to bear witness today to the enormous respect that the men and women of our joint and coalition team have for EOD operators," he said. "Testimonials are many and are heartfelt, conveying their gratitude for EOD operators serving so nobly to mitigate the deadly hazard from explosive devices."

Schwartz said the services will continue to rely on EOD operators for the foreseeable future, even as the military's presence in Afghanistan is adjusted.

"Whatever the future demands, we can be comforted that extremely dedicated, exceptionally brave and highly skilled EOD operators will remain prepared to respond wherever and whenever there is a need."

The general also honored the families of the fallen for their courage and self sacrifice.

"Your loved ones' commitment to making the world a safer place inspires us all, and their sacrifice strengthens our lasting commitment to that enduring ideal," Schwartz said.

The ceremony was particularly poignant for the Eglin AFB community as one of its own, Tech Sgt. Daniel Douville, was remembered. Douville was deployed from the 96th Civil Engineer Squadron when he was killed June 27, 2011, while clearing lines of communication in Afghanistan.

Douville is the second Eglin EOD technician to die in the line of duty. Tech Sgt. Anthony Capra was killed April 9, 2010, while conducting post-blast analysis of a roadside bomb crater near Forward Operating Base Paliwoda in Iraq.

Douville's wife LaShana, along with her children and mother-in-law, attended the ceremony. After she accepted a U.S. flag from Schwartz, she took a moment to touch her husband's name on the wall. She said the memorial is a comfort for her family, since they plan to stay in the local area.

"We can always come by and visit," she said, pointing out that her husband taught other technicians at the joint EOD school here.

Master Sgt. John Carroll, an EOD technician here, said the memorial ceremony was the culmination of a weekend of activities for the operators. While the events allowed the EOD community a chance to visit and catch up, Carroll said the solemnity of the ceremony reminded them they are here to honor those who sacrificed the most.

"It's difficult every year since we're such a small community," Carroll said.

The EOD Memorial was originally built by EOD technicians in Indian Head, Md., the location of the first EOD school. The memorial was relocated to the Kauffman EOD Training Complex when the school moved to its present location in the late 1990s. The new memorial incorporates elements of the original in recognition of its history. The names of 287 fallen EOD technicians appear on the memorial.