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EOD sharpens skills, maintains proficiency during COVID

Explosive ordnance disposal technicians keep up-to-date on their training, even with the restrictions placed on the base brought about by COVID-19.

Members from the 315th Civil Engineer flight, Joint Base Charleston, S.C., are briefed before a scheduled demolition June 27, 2020 at Joint Base Charleston. Explosive ordnance disposal technicians keep up-to-date on their training, even with the restrictions placed on the base brought about by COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman William Brugge)

Explosive ordnance disposal technicians keep up-to-date on their training, even with the restrictions placed on the base brought about by COVID-19.

Senior Airman Alexander Keskinen, explosive ordnance disposal technician, 315th Civil Engineer flight, Joint Base Charleston, S.C, prepares for a controlled explosion June 27, 2020, here. Controlled demolitions are a crucial part of training for explosive ordnance device technicians. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Della S. Creech)

Explosive ordnance disposal technicians keep up-to-date on their training, even with the restrictions placed on the base brought about by COVID-19.

Senior Airman Alexander Keskinen, explosive ordnance disposal technician, 315th Civil Engineer Flight, Joint Base Charleston, S.C, alerts other members of the 315th CEF that the controlled explosion is about to detonate June 27, 2020, here. “Fire in the hole” is typically the phrase shouted by the designated member to let everyone know the controlled explosion is about to commence. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman William Brugge)

Explosive ordnance disposal technicians keep up-to-date on their training, even with the restrictions placed on the base brought about by COVID-19.

Members from the 315th Civil Engineer Flight, Joint Base Charleston, S.C, clean up after a scheduled demolition June 27, 2020 at Joint Base Charleston, S.C. Controlled demolitions are a crucial part of training for explosive ordnance device technicians. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman William Brugge)

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. --

The 315th Civil Engineer Flight’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal team here held a live-explosives demolition training June 27, 2020, at the EOD range near the Naval Weapons Station Charleston.

To maintain mission readiness and the ability to answer the call when needed, the 315 CEF Reservists battle through a pandemic that has limited operations to gain much-needed training time imperative to the mission and unit proficiency.

“This demo will help the EOD team to protect others in the event that an explosive runs the risk of detonating,” said Tech. Sgt. Brendan Mcavey, explosive ordnance technician team lead with the 315 CEF. “Our technicians can accomplish a myriad of assignments, so these demolition exercises are crucial to learning how explosives work and how to perform the mission."

With a vision to be integrated, experienced and relevant, the 315 CEF accomplishes monthly explosives training to remain proficient in tackling any task domestically or abroad. The tasks can range from defusing Civil War relics to safely disposing improvised explosive devices.

The variety of experience held by these EOD Reservists range from every-day-skills to the unique expertise that help them to determine any required safety distance if an explosive should detonate.

“Due to the nature of the work, there is no way to train our Airmen virtually to properly dispose of explosives,” said Master Sgt. Mark Johnson, EOD program manager with the 315 CEF. “The live-contact approach provides them important time using the tools needed to do the job, ensuring that they stay on the leading edge of what they do.”
This proficiency demolition training used a remote detonation barrel to pinpoint a mock IED to sharpen the Reservists’ skills. This is a hands-on, irreplaceable skill to the EOD team, many of the skills strengthen the EOD Airman on and off of duty as well, Johnson said.

“The professionalism from EOD and discipline from the military help me to stay focused on our goals during COVID in my civilian cybersecurity role at Bank of America,” said Senior Airman Alexander Keskinen, explosive ordnance technician with the 315 CEF.

Keskinen not only sharpens his skills with the 315 CEF, but he also transfers them into his role in a rotational master’s degree program. Keskinen explained that in cybersecurity, staying on the cutting edge and sharpening his skills as much as possible makes all of the difference when the pressure is on. He uses this discipline to strengthen the 315 CEF EOD team as well.

“I appreciate having the opportunity to train through such crazy times and remain qualified,” said Keskinen. “Plus, I love blowing stuff up.”