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).
by Marine EOD September 10, 2012
When U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Thomas Howard McRae rolled into a Juneau pizza parlor earlier this week, people couldn’t help but stare.
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.
Please read the entire article at Marine EOD
Pilot Online Washington Post September 4, 2012
“Where is he?” said Brian Loeffler, looking down the empty lane of a 50-meter pool at 7 in the morning.
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.
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.
The Mining Journal
MARQUETTE – Mark Zambon climbed Mount Kilimanjaro last month, but not just for himself.
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.
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Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Taylor Morris, right, sits with a fellow service member in Afghanistan during a lull in a firefight.
But the 23-year-old’s inner strength and determination remain undented
Des Moines Register
The bomb blast in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, earlier this month took so much from Taylor Morris, a former soccer player and top-notch wrestler at Cedar Falls High School.
Morris, 23, lost his right leg at the knee, his left leg at mid-thigh, his right arm at the wrist and his left arm at the elbow.
But somehow, the explosion did little damage to his major organs. And it didn’t dent his determination to recover and move on with his life. His parents are grateful for both those blessings.
“We are blessed in that his organs and core received only scratches … and we are thankful for that,” said Juli Morris, Taylor’s mother.
Next to U.S. firing range in Afghanistan, a village of victims
The Washington Post May 26, 2012
BAGRAM, AFGHANISTAN — The American grenade that nearly killed 10-year-old Shah Mohammed landed on an unmarked firing range in a scrubby desert, in the shadow of the largest U.S. military base in the country.
Like hundreds of other U.S. explosives fired here, it was supposed to detonate on impact. Like hundreds of others, it didn’t
It remained unexploded until Mohammed stumbled upon the ordnance while looking for scrap metal this month. He had nearly gathered enough shrapnel and bullet shells to trade for an ice cream cone. Then the 40mm grenade tore through the boy’s 87-pound body, breaking through bone and tendon and nerve. When Mohammed’s father, Shahzad Gul, found his son, he thought to himself: “All of his blood is gone.”
On the periphery of Bagram Airfield, farmers, scrap-metal collectors and sheep herders have been crippled, blinded and burned by U.S. military ammunition on an unfenced and poorly marked training ground. Called the East River Range, the training ground is blanketed with unexploded U.S. ordnance that was dropped from helicopters and fired from vehicles as part of battlefield rehearsals.
There is no barrier between nearby villages and the range — it is unclear where the dusty townships end and the vast military training area begins. The only apparent warnings are scrawled in faded, barely decipherable English lettering on concrete blocks: “Small Arms Range” and “Weapon Range.” There is no translation in Dari or Pashto, the two most common languages in Afghanistan.
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News Scotman May 14, 2012
A FORMER Royal Navy sailor is supplying bullet-proof vests to armed forces around the world after learning how to sew and setting up a defence industry company on an industrial estate in Glasgow.
According to Sam Sarkar, 34, a former submariner and warfare officer, a stitch in time not only saves nine but potentially the lives of his customers, which include the Los Angeles Police Department, the US army and the Saudi Arabian royal family.
Mr Sarkar first began to trade in body armour, but became so concerned by the slip-shod stitching of some products on the market that he bought a sewing machine on eBay and attended evening sewing classes so he could design his own range.
His products are helping to save lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sarkar Defence Solutions, based at the Hillington Industrial Estate, sells a range of bullet- and stab-proof vests, bomb blankets, made from a high-strength fabric that protects against shrapnel, protective helmets and demining boots, worn by bomb disposal teams.
“I had to learn to sew so that I could make vests on which I could give a 100 per cent guarantee,” said Mr Sarkar, who was born in India and came to Scotland at the age of 16.
“A soldier or a police officer is issued with just one vest, and it doesn’t matter if the other 10,000 are perfect, if that one vest has a fault then, for him, it could prove fatal.”
Please read the entire article here
“The explosive was later detonated by ballistic experts
and so there is no cause for alarm as security has been
beefed up in the area,” said Regional police commander
DADAAB (Xinhua) — Three explosives were found near the UN refugee camp offices early on Thursday, about 5 km from the Hagadera refugee camp in northern Kenya.
The police said the explosives which were discovered by G4S, private security officers at 8 a.m. had been buried in the soil right in the middle of the road.
The road is used by UN vehicles that go the Hagardera refugee camps.
Eyewitnesses told Xinhua at the world’s largest refugee complex in northern Kenyan that the G4S security officers manning the expansive UNHCR become suspicious when they saw a strange object protruding from the ground.
“We still can’t tell who planted the explosives in the soil, but the one responsible for this must have had bad intentions and were maybe targeting the UN or the security personnel vehicles which use the route frequently,” said the local resident who did not want to be named for fear of reprisal.
Regional police commander Leo Nyongesa said the security officers from the nearby Daadab police station with the help of ballistic experts who were swiftly called at the scene managed to detonate one of the improvised electronic device (IED) and went with the other two.
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Wales Online May 11, 2012
The family of a soldier fatally injured by an improvised bomb in Afghanistan have paid tribute to him ahead of his funeral.
Sapper Connor Ray, 20, of 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) will be given full military honours at his funeral at St Woolas Cathedral in Newport, south Wales, today.
He was fatally injured during a search and clearance operation in the Nad-e Ali district of central Helmand near Checkpoint Kahmanan on April 11.
Sapper Ray was part of a mission to clear a compound previously used by insurgents, allowing local people to safely return to the area, when he was seriously injured in an IED blast.
He was taken to Camp Bastion Role 3 Hospital and later transferred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, where he died on April 18.
“Connor was such a kind-hearted, good-natured and amusing guy with a curious taste for ’80s power ballads,” his family said in a moving tribute.
“He described himself as a warrior even though he was scared of spiders.
“Always in good spirits and often mischievous, he had a cheeky grin and infectious giggle.
LA Times April 28, 2012
A naval officer from an explosive ordnance disposal command in Coronado has been killed in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense announced Friday.
Lt. Christopher Mosko, 28, of Pittsford, N.Y., was killed Thursday during combat operations in Nawa district near the Pakistani border when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb during a patrol.
Mosko was assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 3 in Coronado. In Afghanistan, he was a platoon commander for a Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force.
Mosko was qualified as an explosive ordnance expert, a free-fall parachutist and a scuba diving instructor. He was in the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps at Villanova University in Pennsylvania and was commissioned in May 2007.
His awards include a Bronze Star for valor and a Purple Heart, both posthumous.
A BRITISH soldier has tragically died in Britain after being fatally wounded by a Taliban bomb a week ago.
The Sun April 19, 2012
The brave soldier of Britain’s elite bombing hunting unit – 33 Engineer Regiment – was critically hurt last Wednesday.
He received emergency medical care on the battlefield and was then rushed back to the Forces wing at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
But today, his wounds from the deadly blast proved too serious and he died.
A total of 409 members of UK forces have died since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001.
Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Major Ian Lawrence, said: “It is with a deep sense of regret that I must confirm the death of a soldier from 33 Engineer Regiment (EOD) who died of wounds sustained in an IED (improvised explosive device) strike on 11 April 2012.
“The thoughts and sincere condolences of the entire Task Force are with his family and friends.”
Update from Rick Crawford
On Tuesday of this week, Staff Sergeant Joseph D’Augustine was killed in Afghanistan by an IED. He was 29 years old.
Staff Sergeant D’Augustine was an EOD tech in the United States Marine Corps, and he had four tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq to his credit. He enlisted in the Marine Corps the day after he graduated from Waldwick High School in New Jersey in 2001. As an EOD tech, Staff Sergeant D’Augustine displayed the full extent of his bravery by clearing explosive threats in defending the lives of his fellow marines, soldiers, airmen, and sailors.
EOD techs, like Staff Sergeant D’Augustine, play an invaluable role in securing our freedom and in combating terrorism, but too often their heroic deeds go unreported
North Jersey.com March 28, 2012
Sgt. Joseph D’Augustine of the U.S. Marine Corps was killed in Afghanistan this week. He was 29.
Twenty four hours after four Marines showed up at his parent’s home on Campbell Street in Waldwick with news of his death, the family had gathered and members were rifling through boxes of photos of the 2001 Waldwick High School graduate to find one in which he was flashing just the right smile.
D’Augustine is survived by his parents, Anthony and Patricia, and sisters, Nicole, Jennifer and Michele and her husband, Len Kulesa of Mahwah. He also had two nephews and one niece.
As of 3:30 p.m. March 28, the Department of Defense had not released information surrounding D’Augustine’s death.
Joseph D’Augustine left for boot camp the day after his graduation from Waldwick High School in 2001, his sisters said. This was his fourth tour; previous deployments had taken him to Iraq and Fallujah, Afghanistan.
“We loved him. He was a great brother, great uncle and great son,” said Michele Kulesa. “My parents were really proud of him. His nephews looked up to him and couldn’t wait for him to come home. He was a happy guy. God just took him too soon.”
The family said they planned to leave in several hours for Delaware on March 28 to await the arrival of D’Augustine’s remains.
D’Augustine was a member of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit and belonged to Waldwick VFW Post 1049 and American Legion Nightengale Post 57, according to VFW commander Michael Echevarria.
“Not only did he want to be a Marine, but he wanted to be wherever the action was,” Echevarria said in an interview March 28. “That’s true of him with everything. In high school he was a hell of a linebacker and he was a great wrestler.”
Echevarria described D’Augustine as someone who “wasn’t happy unless everyone around him was laughing.”
The Telegraph February 17, 2012
The heavy doors of the armoured personnel carrier swung open with a bang: Warrant Officer Gareth Wood (known to everyone as Woody) was about to tackle his first improvised explosive device (IED) of the day.
The hum of engines was replaced by the shrill whine of metal detectors as the search team set to work. After locating the device they stood in a huddle, chatting and chain-smoking. A sniper was called forward and moved into position, scanning the horizon for trouble. Woody picked up his metal detector and started walking towards the bomb – alone. Everyone watched him go. He lay down, the bomb inches from his head, and started brushing away dirt with a knife and a paintbrush, as careful as an archaeologist. ‘You’re in your own little world,’ he would tell me later. ‘It’s quite surreal.’
Staff Sgt Olaf 'Oz' Schmid
When Woody, who is married with two children, left for Afghanistan in early 2010, he knew it was far from certain that he would return home. ‘There’d been a mass of casualties,’ he recalls now. ‘I think there was a one-in-six chance of us not coming back.’ In the lead-up to his deployment, his fellow bomb disposal operator, Staff Sgt Olaf ‘Oz’ Schmid, a close friend and colleague from 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps, died while defusing a roadside bomb near Sangin, after having successfully neutralised 64 bombs during his five-month tour. Another friend and fellow operator, Capt Daniel Read (also from 11 EOD), was killed while tackling a device in northern Helmand. ‘I didn’t go to Dan’s repatriation,’ Woody recalls. ‘It was literally hours before I was due to fly out to Afghanistan; I couldn’t face it.’
Bomb disposal experts have never been in greater demand: Afghanistan has become an IED war. The huge number of these homemade bombs is seriously disrupting Nato operations in the country, and efforts to reconstruct it. Almost 400 British soldiers and MoD personnel have died since Britain entered the war in Afghanistan 10 years ago, and the majority of casualties since 2008 have been from improvised explosives. They also accounted for nearly 1,000 civilian deaths in the country last year, according to a new UN report. In December it was announced that British troops were to receive £400 million- worth of new kit to counter the threat. Bombs costing pennies have proved a match for a military machine costing billions.
Please read the entire story here
Melissa Nelson Associated Press February 15, 2012
The school where bomb technicians from all branches of the U.S. military learn their craft has been ordered to remove the unofficial motto “Initial Success or Total Failure” from its classroom walls.
Rear Adm. Michael Tillotson told school leaders this month that the motto could be viewed as disrespectful to the hundreds of Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians who have died in the line of duty.
“The motto itself holds potential insensitivities and implies that our fallen and wounded EOD Warriors have somehow failed,” Tillotson, who is based in Norfolk, Va., said in a memo to the Florida school.
“Throughout history many EOD techs from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, other U.S. government and civilian agencies, as well as foreign partners have lost their lives or been wounded in the line of duty. To imply that they failed is insensitive and disrespectful. We owe our fallen warriors and their families honor and dignity for their heroic service,” the admiral said in a prepared statement.
Officials said the admiral is especially concerned about the hundreds of family members who visit the school each spring for a memorial to military bomb technicians who have died in the line of duty the previous year
The school will add the names of at least 17 of its graduates to its memorial wall when it holds its annual ceremony this May, said Ed Barker, a spokesman for the Naval Education and Training Command that over sees the EOD school at Eglin Air Force Base. The elite school trains EOD techs for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines and is among the toughest schools in the military.
The admiral’s mandate was not popular with some current and former EOD members. A Facebook page has been dedicated to keeping the motto. They wrote on the Facebook page that the motto reminds them of the life or death consequences of their jobs.
“The motto is not about the individual, it is about the mission, and when you are dealing with an explosive device you generally get one shot to render it safe,” Will Pratt, a former Army EOD technician, wrote in an email to the Northwest Florida Daily News newspaper of Fort Walton Beach.
Barker said many of those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan were killed by remotely detonated devices, and there is nothing they could have done to prevent the bomb from exploding in the seconds before someone triggered it.
He said the admiral is sensitive to this and doesn’t want anyone to imply that these EOD technicians failed in their mission.
“That’s something they had no control over,” he said
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He was hailed a hero after sniffing out more than 250 bombs in Africa and the Middle East, saving countless lives.
“he displayed impeccable manners and rarely disgraced himself in the bar”
The Telegraph January 10, 2012
But Major, a British-born demining dog, was being mourned last night having been put down after 15 years of faithful service.
The black Labrador was described as an “extremely friendly and loyal friend” by his owner, John Dingley, a senior technical adviser for the United Nations Mine Action Service.
He said Major, whose full name was Major Kipper-Ridge, held the record for the number of mines detected in Somalia.
He was responsible for detecting 67 Pakistani P4 anti-personnel mines which are notoriously difficult to locate by metal detectors and are particularly hazardous to clear.
He also located more than 100 UXO, or unexploded ordnance mines, and 17 anti tank landmines
In 2006, he detected 53 cluster bombs during an emergency tour in Lebanon at the height of the conflict with Israel.
Even in retirement, Major did an “admirable” job as a guard dog, once preventing a robbery in Nairobi.
Mr Dingley, 46, from Draycott, Somerset, paid a fond tribute to his four-legged friend, whose working life was “nothing short of extraordinary”.
He said his incredible success saved more than 200 lives.
Major was born in March 1997 in Wigan. Although little is know about his early life, Mr Dingley said he was obviously from a well-bred family with good manners and a tremendous sense of fun.
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