The Army provides opportunities that a normal civilian would not experience. I’ve been lucky to have a lot of different unique experiences and chances that most people would dream about. I’ve thrown hand grenades, fired machine guns, fired a grenade launcher, performed in war game maneuvers, driven Humvees and the larger trucks, tested my physical limits, and now I can add to that list making a massive explosion.
Over the past couple of weeks, I had the opportunity to work side-by-side with an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) company. It was a chance to break out of the normal routine of the deployment and go to a different base and experience first hand a small portion of what EOD soldiers do. By far the coolest thing was disposing of expired ammo. For hours we help place this ammo into three shot holes. Basically, just a large hole in the ground. We placed all sorts of ammunition to include tank rounds, mortar rounds, AT4s (bazooka), smoke grenades, phosphorus grenades, crater bombs, and C4.
Once all the thousands of pounds of ammunition were placed, it was time for EOD to prime the fuses, and back away from the shot holes. Our vantage point was a mile away from the shot holes. We waited in anticipation during the 5-minute delayed time fuse. Finally, all at once there was a simultaneous explosion in all 3 shot holes creating a massive explosion. First was the massive fireball, even at a mile away we could feel the heat from the explosion, about 10 seconds later we heard the sound of the explosion and felt the shockwave. It was truly an awe inspiring and terrifying experience. The explosion created a massive mushroom cloud that ascended hundreds of feet in the air. It was like watching a firework show in which all the fireworks exploded at one time.
NOTE: There is offensive language in the video (it is the Army)
After the explosion we drove back down to the shot holes are we amazed at how much deeper they got. And there wasn’t a single piece of ammunition to be seen.
On the last night before we left, we had a cross training day followed by a grill out. I got the chance to put on the bomb vest (it’s roughly 90 pounds), got to play around with their robots, and got to watch them do their own practical exercises. During the grill out we had a fire, we were just sitting around the fire having a good time. If it wasn’t for the razor wire fences, and the constant sounds of helicopters flying overhead, I would have thought I was back in America. Nights like that truly raise the morale on the deployment. It’s easy to fall into a rut and be negative, I just try to take these small little things to keep the spirits up.
Getting care packages, facetiming with family, and getting pictures and videos of my daughter is a constant source of morale. I thankfully have been getting lots of care packages (which I am grateful for) and have over 700 pictures and videos of my daughter on my phone. I will easily have over 1,000 pictures before I leave. It’s still hard to watch her grow from here. But my wife is doing an excellent job at home holding down the fort through the numerous deployment trolls that have come up and raising our daughter. At this point I am almost half way through the deployment and can’t wait to go home after we complete our mission.