By Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie , Air Force Public Affairs Agency OL-P
/ Published September 24, 2014
WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- From the front lines, explosive ordnance disposal Airmen have been clearing the way during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom for the past 12 years, providing safe passage for all other warriors to follow.
As of Sept. 3, Air Force EOD officials reported mission complete for OEF as the last of six EOD flights left Kandahar, Afghanistan Sept. 11, and arrived at the Deployment Transition Center on Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
"There's something special about our EOD Airmen -- day after day, these heroes willingly put their life on the line to protect others,” said Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark A. Welsh III. “Many of them paid a great price for that courage; there's simply no way we can honor them enough. I can't express how proud I am of these warrior professionals and their combat record. They make every Airman proud.”
Since EOD responded to the first explosive incident report for OEF on Sept. 27, 2002, Airmen have completed 19,847 missions, responded to 6,546 improvised explosive devices, conducted 2,665 post blast analyses, and executed 5,093 unexploded ordnance incident responses. Additionally, Airmen from Air Force EOD have received more than 100 Purple Hearts for their actions and service in OEF, OIF and Operation New Dawn.
Air Force EOD Airmen have completed 55,847 missions and responded to 19,946 IEDs, the number one killer of U.S. combat troops, while supporting all three operations during the past 12 years.
Because the deployment cycle for EOD Airmen was very high paced and grueling, Chief Master Sgt. Martin Cortez, the career field manager noted that EOD specialists depended on the support of their families at home.
“Knowing we didn't accomplish this alone, I think about our families, their sacrifices, keeping the home front going, growing up with dad or mom (in several cases both) gone on multiple trips to the AOR (area of responsibility) and the stress they went through,” Cortez said. “Looking back over the last 12 years, 13 since 9/11, I am amazed by what our teams have accomplished down range during OIF and OEF ... it's humbling to be part of such a professional group.”
Air Force EOD is now taking the next step forward to improve on lessons learned and improve their capabilities, to be ready when they are called on once again.
“As this chapter ends and a new one begins, we must reset our force to be ready for the next call when our capabilities are needed,” said Maj. Joshua Connell, the Air Force EOD program director. “We will always remember our sacrifices with reverence, and speak of our successes with pride and exuberance, so that everyone who hears the stories will remember the contributions our Airmen have made.”
However, the success of Air Force EOD has come at a cost, with 20 Air Force EOD Airmen; 12 from OEF and eight from OIF/OND, made the ultimate sacrifice and will be remembered by their families, the EOD community and the Air Force until the end of time.
"It is with profound pride that we express our solidarity with the operators on the ground that executed those missions and our gratitude for their service," said Brig. Gen. Timothy S. Green, the Air Force director of civil engineers. "I will always be saddened by the 20 EOD Airmen that we lost and will continue to be inspired by the resilience of the many wounded warriors and their families."
The following are the list of EOD Airmen who paid the ultimate sacrifice:
- Tech. Sgt.Phillip Myers deployed from Royal Air Force Station Lakenheath, England, killed in action April 4, 2009
- Staff Sgt. Brian Berky deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, KIA Sept.12, 2009
- Tech. Sgt. Anthony Campbell deployed from Scott AFB, Illinois, KIA Dec. 15, 2009
- Tech. Sgt. Adam Ginnet deployed from Aviano AB, Italy, KIA Jan. 19, 2010
- Senior Airman Michael Buras deployed from Nellis AFB, Nevada, KIA Sept. 21, 2010
- Senior Airman Daniel Johnson deployed from Vandenberg AFB, California, KIA Oct. 5, 2010
- Tech. Sgt. Kristoffer Solesbee deployed from Hill AFB, Utah, KIA May 26, 2011
- Staff Sgt. Joseph Hamski deployed from Spangdahlem AB, Germany, KIA May 26, 2011
- Tech. Sgt. Daniel Douville deployed from Eglin AFB, Florida, KIA June 26, 2011
- Tech. Sgt. Matthew Schwartz deployed from F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming, KIA January 5, 2012
- Senior Airman Bryan Bell deployed from Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, KIA Jan. 5, 2012
- Airman 1st Class Matthew Seidler deployed from Peterson AFB, Colorado, KIA Jan. 5, 2012
- Tech. Sgt. Walter Moss deployed from Mountain Home AFB, Idaho KIA March 29, 2006
- Master Sgt. Brad Clemmons deployed from Eielson AFB, Alaska, KIA Aug. 21, 2006
- Capt. Kermit Evans deployed from Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, KIA Dec. 3, 2006
- Tech. Sgt. Timothy Weiner deployed from Hill AFB, KIA Jan. 7, 2007
- Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki deployed from Hill AFB, KIA Jan. 7, 2007
- Senior Airman Daniel Miller deployed from Hill AFB, KIA Jan. 7, 2007
- Senior Airman William Newman deployed from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, KIA June 7, 2007
- Tech. Sgt. Tony Capra deployed from Detachment 63, KIA April 9, 2008