VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Curators from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History and Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) visited Explosive Ordnance Disposal Training and Evaluation Unit (EODTEU) 2 at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story (JEBLCFS), April 12.
The visit was part of an educational tour of EODTEU 2 to get an up-close look at the mission, training and equipment of Navy EOD technicians.
"Since the beginning of the war, the general public has gotten a basic understanding of what an improvised explosive device (IED) is and what EOD technicians do," said Cmdr. Craig Smith, commanding officer of EODTEU 2. "What the public does not always understand is the effect IEDs have on the battlefield and how they changed our methods in combat. Learning what IEDs are capable of and what lengths we have to go to counter them really gives people a new perspective."
The visit started off with a tour of the EODTEU 2 compound on Fort Story that highlighted the many facets of the EOD mission, such as counter-IED, diving, air operations, combat skills and demolition to prepare EOD technicians for deployment.
"We came here to get a better understanding of how service members are fighting against the IED threat as well how they deal with situations like unexploded ordnance," said Dr. Frank Blazich, curator of modern military history, division of armed forces history at the National Museum of American History. "Photos and text can only teach us so much when it comes to something as dynamic as EOD, so being able to see these items, touch them, and see the environments in which they are employed is a tremendous gain for us."
The historians toured several training areas built to simulate the locales and environments EOD technicians currently operate in around the world. During the tour of the mock villages and towns, EOD technicians placed simulated IEDs throughout the locations to give the historians a first-hand look at how difficult IEDs can be to spot and take action against.
"Getting to see how easy it is to hide an IED and realize later how close you might have been to stepping on it is a real eye-opener," Blazich said. "After seeing how close we all got to activating the training IED, you could tell the whole group got a little more wary of where we were walking and what we were by, and that type of experience is invaluable when it comes to educating the general public. These experiences are only possible by coming here and working with a command like EODTEU 2."
Following the tour and a live, controlled detonation, the historians had an opportunity to get hands-on experience with a large variety of inert IEDs that realistically simulate the types of IEDs being employed in combat zones around the world. The EOD technicians on hand answered questions and explained the types of situations the IEDs might be used as well as the steps necessary to defeat them.
"The primary mission of Naval History and Heritage Command is to capture the history of the Navy, and a fundamental part of that is capturing the experiences of Sailors," said David Manning, curator of ordnance and small arms at NHHC. "Our command collects physical objects to help represent a person's story. To be able to get these stories from the Sailor who experienced it and a uniform or piece of equipment he or she had when there really changes how we can preserve that history. Today has really been an eye-opening and informative experience."
EODTEU 2 is assigned to EODGRU 2, headquartered at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. EODGRU 2 oversees all east coast-based Navy EOD mobile units, including one forward-deployed mobile unit in Spain, as well as EOD Expeditionary Support Unit (EODESU) 2, and the only east coast-based mobile diving and salvage unit, MDSU 2.
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For more news from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2, visit www.navy.mil/local/eod2/.