Air Force EOD dispose of 98 TNT blocks near Tok, Alaska

  • Published
  • By Airman Spencer Hanson
  • 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The U.S. Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal team here received a call on Sep. 28, from archaeologists who had unearthed a crate of TNT and executed a controlled detonation near Tok, Alaska.

Air Force EOD members provide an emergency response capability for the Air Force and Joint Commanders to detect, locate, access, diagnose, render safe, recover, and dispose of explosive ordnance. These missions include disposing of ordnance for the Air Force and nearby communities.

“Being able to conduct emergency responses off base and in the community is one of my favorite aspects of EOD. Every response is always different and poses new challenges that give you experience and help form you into a better EOD technician,” said Staff Sgt. Jason Verhoef, an EOD Technician with the 354th Civil Engineering Squadron. "I really enjoy being able to see first-hand the impact we can make in the local community by dealing with explosive hazards.”

Upon arrival the EOD team met with local civil authorities and uncovered 98 blocks of TNT each weighing a half pound. The EOD team determined the explosives were safe to move but had to be detonated as soon as possible to prevent it from destroying any nearby infrastructure. After finding an area nearby that allowed for safe detonation, they were able to execute a controlled detonation of all the blocks with no significant damage to the environment.

EOD struggles to give its junior enlisted proper real-world experience because of how few and far between these opportunities arise. Verhoef had 3 junior enlisted on his response team for the call, all of which received invaluable experience.

“My main concern is ensuring the tasks I was assigned get completed, like estimating the hazard area, ensuring civilians did not enter the hazard area, and helping set up the demolition shot in a way that made sense and improved safety,” said Senior Airman Jonathan Grey, an EOD Technician with the 354th CES. “It’s a great opportunity to get real-world, hands-on experience and it's an essential part of my job. We do a lot of training, so it feels good to run an operation where everything is real.”

EOD is one of the Air Force’s most difficult and dangerous jobs, where members can encounter risks on a daily basis. Despite these challenges EOD members say it is one of the most rewarding jobs within the Air Force.

“This response really highlights just a small part of what we do in EOD, " said Verhoef. "It's a very rewarding career field with numerous opportunities to travel and experience a variety of challenges. It's truly the best job in the Air Force.”