EOD aids remote civil officials in dynamite disposal

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel
  • 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Three explosive ordnance disposal Airmen from the 354th Civil Engineer Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, were dispatched 78 miles to lend support to a volunteer fire department and Alaska State Troopers Sept. 20.

The EOD technicians removed and disposed of 65 deteriorating sticks of dynamite and other explosives in an operation under a defense support to civil authorities agreement.

"The explosives were from the late 60s and were deteriorating to the point where they could have been dangerous if handled incorrectly," said Master Sgt. Harold Horton, the 354th CES noncommissioned officer in charge of EOD.

The seeping box of TNT was found in a resident's garage and reported to local law enforcement. According to officials, explosives were common in the area when gold mines and farms were being developed.

The local state troopers and the local Rural Deltana Volunteer Fire Department have neither the equipment nor the expertise to dispose of explosives, so the Air Force technicians spent days planning the disposal with the local officials.

"The closest bomb squad is in Valdez or Anchorage, eight hours away and it’s not feasible for them to respond places like this," Horton said. "This kind of operation not only helps the community, but it gives us an opportunity to expose our newer Airmen to situations to develop safety habits in a semi-controlled environment."

After the explosives were carefully removed from the property they were safely disposed of by controlled detonation on the dry bed of the Tanana River. The state troopers and fire department provided security and traffic control.

"We have never been trained, or have experience with something like this," said Tim Castleberry, the Rural Deltana Volunteer Fire Department chief. "When we inform citizens around the affected area they are much more comfortable knowing we have the experts here to do things safely, that's just not something we could do without the support of the base."

Eielson's EOD technicians, who form the smallest operational flight in the Air Force, respond around the northern part of the state covering an area of responsibility larger than the entire state of Texas when local civil authorities call for the mutual aid.