EOD specialists build bilateral relations

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jose L. Hernandez-Domitilo
  • 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
"Fire in the hole! Fire in the hole! Fire in the hole!"

The sound of from a nearby explosion follows and is slowly overshadowed by the resonating splashes of the Pacific Ocean.

It is just another day on the job if you ask any of Misawa Air Base's explosive ordnance disposal team members here -- but not an entirely regular morning. At the team's side are fellow Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces, or JMSDF, and U.S. Navy members, partaking in a joint bilateral exercise at the Draughon Bombing Range, July 15.

Master Sgt. Cary Gibson, the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD flight chief, explained that the objective of the training exercise was to demonstrate their ability to gain access to vehicles suspected as vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices.

Working with the Japanese EOD team, the Airmen demonstrated how U.S. military EOD experts operate. The U.S. team demonstrated their ability to utilize vehicle access explosive tools that have been perfected during the last decade at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tools the Japanese don't necessarily have access to, Gibson said.

For U.S. Navy Lt. j.g. Jehu Humphries, the officer in charge of EOD Mobile Unit 5, working bilaterally with the Japanese service members is nothing new, as they have always had a long standing relationship with their EOD counterparts.

"The EOD community is very tight knit," Humphries said. "Any chance we can get to work together with fellow EOD members from different units, we are open to it."

While a language barrier exists between Japanese and American forces, there is a foundation for the way they all communicate, and that's EOD.

"Our units are more similar than you'd think," Humphries said. "With EOD, we speak a very common language. If we hint at what we are talking about, then there's already an understanding of what that is."

The beauty of the community is no matter what nationality or branch of service, there is an immediate connection anytime EOD members get together, Humphries said. It is the commonality of having the same mission of saving lives and protecting people.

"It is important for the Japanese to get out here and train with us," said Tech. Sgt. Ryan Manzi, an EOD craftsman with the 35th CES. "The range gives us the ability to demonstrate our capabilities for their awareness."

In addition to exhibiting techniques at the range, the Misawa AB team also works closely with the students at the local Japanese EOD school, allowing their Japanese counterparts to apply their skills on and off the range.

"What I enjoy most is meeting new people and building friendships," Manzi said. "We hope we can continue to work with them in the future."