This morning, the Pentagon announced the death of a Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier who was killed while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. Kenneth W. Bennett, 26, of Glendora, Calif., died Nov. 10, 2012, in Sperwan Gar, Afghanistan, from injuries sustained when he encountered an improvised explosive device during combat operations.
Unit records indicate Staff Sgt. Bennett entered in the Army in November 2004, and attended Initial Army Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; Advanced Individual Training (AIT) was at both Redstone Arsenal, Al. and Eglin Air Force Base, Fl.
His AIT training was for that of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Specialist.
Staff Sgt. Bennett arrived at JBLM in February 2009, was assigned to the 53rd Ordnance Company (EOD), 3rd Ordnance Battalion (EOD).
October 25, 2012
Voluntary Today, Involuntary Tomorrow
Another Successful Flush by Wackenhut G4S
Will the last Ronco Consulting Corporation Employee out please close the lid ?
Defense firm links with Va.-based Sterling
An East Tennessee defense contractor has joined forces with a Virginia firm.
EOD Technology announced Wednesday that it has merged with Reston, Va.-based Sterling International to form Sterling Global Operations.
The new company will be based in Lenoir City, and EODT CEO Matt Kaye will serve as president and CEO of the new venture.
Kaye said Wednesday that the combined companies form “the world’s preeminent conventional munitions disposal organization.”
Asked about the benefits of the deal for EODT, Kaye said: “It really diversifies our customer base. It strengthens our footprint around the world and provides us greater breadth and depth of resources.”
EODT got its start in 1987 as a company specializing in explosive ordnance disposal, and for years specialized in cleaning up contamination at former U.S. military sites. During the George W. Bush administration, EODT branched out into security operations and eventually became a major player in that market.
The company has also received some unwelcome scrutiny in connection with that work, however. In 2010, a U.S. Senate committee criticized EODT for its hiring practices in Afghanistan, and the following year it was revealed that the U.S. State Department had fired the company from a contract to guard the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.
EODT was raided by federal agents in 2010, although no charges have been filed in connection with the raid.
According to a news release, EODT’s employee stock ownership plan acquired Sterling International. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The release said Sterling manages a $175 million weapons removal and abatement program for the State Department, and Kaye said that in comparison to EODT, the Virginia firm is more involved in the work of nonproliferation.
“While the activities that (EODT does) are nonproliferation, they’re much more in a mass-quantity stockpile reduction,” he said. “Sterling is on the forefront of … assisting countries with treaty compliance (and) establishing mine action centers.”
Kaye said Sterling has approximately 150 employees, and the new company will have about 3,500 employees.
After a round of layoffs earlier this year, EODT said it had 250 American employees and 3,000 foreign nationals.
Kaye said Sterling International’s program manager for conventional weapons destruction will remain in that position with the new company.
Sterling’s website does not identify the company’s top executives, and Kaye declined to identify the founder or CEO of the company. “He’s asked not to be named,” Kaye said, adding that the individual would stay on as an executive adviser.
The release said the combined companies will continue to serve existing customers, but will also expand into markets including energy exploration and development, and judicial and criminal justice support.
The new company will have annual revenues of $150 million.
Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Association, Charleston Local Chapter 6, is hosting the fourth annual EOD Charity Golf Tournament Oct. 6 at the Shadowmoss Golf Plantation in Charleston.
For more information or to participate, contact Tuck LeBree at email@example.com.
Wicked Local Danvers September 13, 2012
Every Saturday in downtown Danvers, residents can find Jimmy George, retired Danvers police officer, at his usual post near the flagpole collecting donations for Operation Troop Support.
One weekend George had a handsome young man on crutches donate a few dollars to the cause. It turned out to be Danvers native Todd Hammond, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class in the U.S. Navy. On April 6, 2011, Hammond was clearing suspected Improvised Explosive Devices in the vicinity of an Afghan National Police checkpoint when an IED detonated directly beneath him, causing severe injuries. His wounds resulted in the amputation of his right leg just below the knee, a shattered right femur, a broken left foot and multiple soft tissue injuries as well as traumatic brain injury from the force of the blast.
George recognized the young soldier when Hammond returned home to Danvers to visit his mom, Janet Hammond, while he was recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
“My wife had gone into CVS to get something and I saw Jimmy George sitting out in the Square,” Hammond said. “I hopped over to him and put something in his bucket. Then he came over to our truck and told me that he had a picture of me at his house. He knew who I was and knew of my mom. I remembered him when he was a cop working in downtown Danvers when I was young. And his sons were in Civil Air Patrol with me.”
George who volunteers for Operation Troop Support in Danvers had heard the story of the young soldier. But because Hammond wanted to keep a low profile, few residents knew what the Danvers High School graduate from the Class of 1989 had endured.
Hammond, who served his country for more than 17 years in both the Navy and Marine Corps and was deployed to more than a dozen countries, said as the war rages on he hopes that his story motivates people to continue to support the troops like George does. He has experienced first-hand the difference that care packages, letters and cards sent to soldiers can make, not only to troops in the field but for those wounded warriors at the hospitals when they return home.
by Marine EOD September 10, 2012
The two missing legs. The prosthetic arm. The wheelchair.
Then, the grey T-shirt that says, “If you keep staring, they may grow back.”
“You may as well have fun,” McRae said with a sly grin.
The 30-year-old Explosive Ordnance Technician returned to Juneau this week to visit his parents and the place where he was born and raised. It was his first time back since he was wounded by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan on Jan. 16.
McRae was greeted by friends and family, and was feted at a local high school football game held in his honor Saturday evening.
“It was good, although from the bleachers to the field, I can’t really see that far, but I had commentators,” he said, nodding to his father, Tim Ryan, and one of his sisters, Jessica Ryan. “But yeah, it was fun, it was nice. Everybody came out for the most part and said hi.”
From watching the ease with which McRae plays with his 4-year-old daughter, Aidan, and jokes with his family at the restaurant table, it’s hard to imagine that his parents once worried their son would never talk again.
“The scariest part of the whole thing for me was the brain injury,” says Tim. “… It’s scary — when you have a brain injury, they don’t even talk to him, they talk to us, and that’s what I wanted to get rid of.”
Tim elaborated, “They cut a hole in his head and stuck a straw down into his brain, and then they put an instrument down inside the straw and grabbed the (bone) fragment and pulled it out.”
“Yeah,” McRae added, “and then they left the rest. They only pulled out the one.”
“What the blast did was it took the bone structure behind his right eye, and blew it like a shotgun blast into his brain,” Tim explained. “So somewhere on his head, they took part of his skull and replaced the structure behind his eye so his brain didn’t fall down into the eye socket.”
“Because that would have been creepy,” McRae said.
Fay Observer September 5, 2012
A Fort Bragg soldier killed Saturday in Afghanistan was an explosive ordnance disposal expert who had deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. Jonathan Philip Schmidt, 28, of Petersburg, Va., was killed when he and others came under fire in Batur Village, Afghanistan.
Schmidt served with the 767th Ordnance Company, 192nd Ordnance Battalion at Fort Bragg.
His higher command, the 20th Support Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., said Schmidt joined the Army in 2003.
His awards include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Combat Action Badge, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terror Service Medal, the Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, the NCO Professional Development Ribbon and the Army Service Ribbon.
Schmidt was also awarded the Army Parachutist Badge and the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Basic and Senior Badges.
Pilot Online Washington Post September 4, 2012
To his right, a masters practice was finishing up. In front of him, early risers were doing laps. He didn’t seem overly concerned that his star swimmer had disappeared.
“There he is,” the coach said, and called to a man at the far end of the pool. “Brad, you’re two lanes over.”
As the swimmer moved along the wall at the shallow end back to the correct lane, Loeffler explained that his charge sometimes submarines under the lane line when sprinting the breaststroke. It wouldn’t happen if he weren’t pushing himself in the final weeks before the Paralympic Games in London.
And also if he weren’t blind.
Bradley Snyder is midway through a seven-event schedule at the Paralympic Games, which end Sept. 9. He won a gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle Friday and a silver in the 50-meter freestyle Saturday. A former captain of the U.S. Naval Academy’s swim team, Snyder never imagined he would be in this meet. Nevertheless, it marks his return to a sport that once helped define who he was, before bad luck changed everything.
In Afghanistan a year ago, Snyder, a Navy lieutenant, was working with the Virginia Beach-based Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 12 when he stepped on a homemade land mine. His face took the brunt of the blast. He now has two glass eyes.
The Department of Defense has identified another San Diego-based service member killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan last week.
Sean P. Carson, 32, was assigned to an explosive ordnance disposal mobile unit in San Diego. Carson was an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Petty Officer, first class.
It was a very humbling experience, to go from being a very able-bodied man, leading an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team on numerous combat deployments, to simply not being able to carry myself up a sidewalk.
He’s still an active duty Marine, living in California.
Marquette native Zambon, who lost his lower legs to an improvised explosive device while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan in 2011, trained hard for the trip to Tanzania, which he made with Tim Medvetz and Medvetz’s organization, The Heroes Project.
But the accomplishment was about much more than climbing a mountain.
“The journey of making it to Africa was for me and my recovery,” Zambon, 27, said in an email. “The summit of Kilimanjaro was for my two friends SSgt. Josh Cullins (killed in action in October 2010 in Operation Enduring Freedom) and Sgt. Mike Tayaotao (killed in action in August 2007 in Operation Iraqi Freedom) whose dog tags I climbed with around my neck and buried atop Mount Kilimanjaro with my own EOD (explosive ordnance detail) digging knife that had dug on numerous IEDs.
Post Gazette.com August 18, 2012
Those qualities had served him well during his nine-year Army career, according to his stepmother, Jan Holman.
Staff Sgt. Holman, a 1990 Avonworth graduate, was killed Wednesday in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province by an improvised explosive device, according to the Department of Defense. He was 39.
A large contingent of family members, including his mother, Carol, of Franklin Park, and his father David and stepmother, of Forward Township, Butler County, were at Dover Air Force Base, in Delaware, when his body was brought back to the United States this morning.
“He had planned to make the Army a career,” Jan Holman said. “He liked everything about it.”
After graduating from Penn State in 1995 with a degree in criminal justice, Sgt. Holman held a variety of jobs. He drove cross-country for his father’s trucking company, operated a limousine service and did construction work.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he joined the Army as an enlisted man at age 29. He served with the 82nd Airborne Division and became a member of the Army’s Golden Knights parachute team. “They were like a family for him,” his stepmother said.
About three years ago he began training as an explosive ordnance disposal, or EOD, specialist. Assigned to the 192nd Ordnance Battalion, 52nd Ordnance Group, 20th Support Command, he had been stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C. He had looked forward to his deployment in Afghanistan, which began in January, Jan Holman said. He was scheduled to come home in September.
He had been on patrol with a U.S. Special Forces team in the Afghan mountains when he was killed.
A Fort Bragg soldier died Wednesday in Afghanistan of wounds he suffered when he encountered an improvised explosive device, the Defense Department said Friday.
Staff Sgt. Eric S. Holman, 39, of Evans City, Pa., died in Ghazni province. He was assigned to 192nd Ordnance Battalion, 52nd Ordnance Group, 20th Support Command at Fort Bragg.
He was an explosive ordnance disposal soldier, the 20th Support Command said in a press release issued Friday night.
“They are warriors who are properly trained, equipped and integrated to attack, defeat and exploit unexploded ordnance, improvised explosive devices and weapons of mass destruction,” reads the U.S. Army’s website.
Holman used to perform with the Golden Knights, the U.S. Army Parachute Team. “The entire family of the Golden Knights offer our deepest regrets and gratitude to our family member Eric Holman,” the parachute team announced on its Facebook page Thursday. “Thank You and you will be missed.”
Sacbee August 16, 2012
For Russ Mote and his family, the grief comes in waves as they remember the son and brother who was killed a week ago while serving with the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan.
The comfort comes as they remember Staff Sgt. Sky R. Mote’s characteristic smile and his conviction that the work he and his team were doing in an Afghan village in Helmand province was making a difference.
They were further comforted Thursday by the outpouring of support from El Dorado County residents and others who waved flags from Highway 50 overpasses and lined streets in El Dorado Hills as a motorcade bearing the young Marine’s body passed en route from McClellan Air Park to Green Valley Mortuary.
Sky Mote, 27, and two other members of the 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion from Camp Pendleton – Capt. Matthew P. Manoukian, 29, of Los Altos Hills and Gunnery Sgt. Ryan Jeschke, 31, of Herndon, Va. – were killed Aug. 10.
Initial reports were that the three were shot by an Afghan police officer after sharing a meal with the man. Russ Mote said he is waiting to hear the story from members of his son’s unit.
“Sky always had a smile on his face. … I’ve only seen three pictures where he wasn’t smiling,” Mote said, and those were official Corps photos in which the Marine was supposed to look somber.
Sky Mote joined the Marines nine years ago, after graduating from Union Mine High School in his hometown of El Dorado.
Anchorage Daily News August 13, 2012
An airman was found dead near Six Mile Lake on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, the Air Force said Sunday. Authorities say he died Saturday and the cause of death is under investigation.
The Virginian Pilot-Pilot Online August 11, 2012
Two insurgent fighters were dead, and a third had been taken into the custody of Iraqi security officers. After a showdown in the Iraqi desert some three years ago, Virginia Beach-based Navy bomb-disposal experts were called to the scene to probe the bodies for explosives.
Exactly what happened next – and why – is unclear. The dust-up ended with Iraqi soldiers gunning down the third insurgent after he managed to get his hands on a firearm.
Military prosecutors say Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Harvey C. Fisher is responsible.
The decorated war veteran was in a military courtroom at Norfolk Naval Station on Friday, charged with dereliction of duty and reckless conduct “of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.”
The charging documents allege that Fisher “willfully caused the use of an Iraqi detainee to perform dangerous labor.” They also allege that Fisher suggested and permitted the detained insurgent to move the bodies to search them for bombs; and that Fisher suggested and permitted the detainee be allowed “into an area where there were weapons available for him to use.”
Defense attorneys dispute that. They say Fisher, a 29-year-old explosive ordnance disposal
specialist based at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, had no responsibility for what happened May 4, 2009, near Forward Operating Base Hammer in Iraq.
Fisher did not enter a plea at Friday’s arraignment. He asked to be tried by a jury that includes fellow enlisted sailors. A court-martial is scheduled to begin Sept. 7.
Fisher was a petty officer 1st class assigned to Explosive Ordnance Mobile Unit 6 at the time of the incident. He still works with the unit and has not been assigned to administrative duties as a result of the charges.
The court documents include few details about the day in question, and Marine Capt. Keaton Harrell, the lead prosecutor, declined to comment.
Fisher’s civilian attorney, Greg McCormack, elaborated on the incident after the hearing.
McCormack said the third insurgent was in the custody of Iraqi military officers. For some reason, he said, the detainee was allowed to go down into a gully where the bodies lay, and there he picked up a firearm. The Iraqi soldiers shot him dead.
“The question is: How and why did he get down there?” McCormack said. “Our position is that my client did not conduct any misconduct.”
Fisher wasn’t responsible for the detainee, said McCormack, who filed a motion asking the government to track down two Iraqi army eyewitnesses to confirm Fisher’s story.
Cmdr. Colleen Glaser-Allen, the judge, told prosecutors to take up McCormack’s request with the Iraqi government but cautioned him against counting on the officers’ testimony. Even if officials are able to locate the Iraqi officers, Glaser-Allen said, the court can’t compel them to testify.
McCormack anticipates calling numerous character witnesses during the trial, he said, many of them from within the close-knit community of explosive ordnance disposal specialists.
Considered one of the most dangerous jobs during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, EODs are trained to find and dismantle bombs before they go off. Fisher is well-respected in the EOD community, McCormack said.
Fisher appeared in court in dress whites, wearing a Bronze Star he received in 2008 for his work clearing bombs in Iraq. He joined the Navy in July 2001 and has been promoted twice since the 2009 incident.
The arraignment was scheduled earlier this year but was delayed to allow Fisher to participate in a “career-enhancing operation,” according to the judge.
Huffington Post August 10. 2012
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — Authorities say a 6-year-old boy died when he triggered a landmine while collecting wood with his father in the forests of central Bosnia. The father was wounded in the blast.
Aldina Ahmic, spokeswoman for the police in central Bosnia, says the area the two were exploring Friday is a marked minefield some 50 kilometers north of Sarajevo.
Ahmic says the boy died instantly. His father, 37, is being treated at a Sarajevo hospital for serious shrapnel wounds.
Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war turned it into one of the world’s most mine-infested countries. Clearing the explosive devices is costly and complicated.
According to Bosnia’s Mine Action Center, 1,674 people have been killed or injured by mines since the war ended.