NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) community is forming its own rating and looking for Sailors to fill an additional 80 billets, June 1.
Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) Command Master Chief CMDCM Anthony Santino, the Navy's senior enlisted EOD technician, or "Master Blaster of the Navy," recommends that Sailors interested in converting to EOD do their homework to make sure this is the career path for them.
"We want people who know this is what they want to do, so they'll stick with it when the training gets tough," said Santino.
EOD candidates are pre-screened prior to entry in the program for a number of attributes. Sailors must achieve qualifying scores on the ASVAB, fitness test, pressure test, security clearance, dive physical and have no non-judicial punishments.
If qualified and accepted into the program, new candidates report for two weeks of training at Prospective Student Indoctrination in Great Lakes, Ill. Sailors then report for two months of dive training at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City, Fla., and 10 months of ordnance training at the Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal at Eglin Air Force Base. At Eglin, candidates will spend a significant amount of time in the classroom and in the field learning about chemical, biological, nuclear, conventional and improvised explosive devices.
After successful completion of that arduous process, potential EOD techs will then report for six weeks of tactical training in San Diego, three weeks of jump school at Fort Benning, Ga., and when the opportunity arises, free-fall school.
"Don't volunteer for EOD training just because you don't like your current rate," Santino re-emphasized. "You really need to want to do this."
Quartermaster 1st Class (EOD/FPJ/AW) Chris Reed has been an EOD tech for the last four of his 10 years in the Navy.
"I was stationed in Guam with base security and had the opportunity to see some of the EOD training. I took an interest and got to know some of the techs," Reed said. "I'll be honest, the first reason I thought about getting into the program was for all the special pay, but then I realized the caliber of people I was working with and I was hooked."
The NECC EOD Force Recruiter, Senior Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) (EOD/FPJ) Scott Treible, said that part of the pre-screening is looking for Sailors with that "certain something."
"A majority of the people we get are your classic 'Type A' personalities. They have very active lifestyles, enjoy team sports, are competitive, think fast and perform well under pressure," Treible said. "At the same time, they need to be independent and decisive. People that can't think on their feet and make immediate decisions aren't going to get through the program."
"The attrition rate is pretty high, but as long as you show the instructors you really want to be there, they'll work with you," agreed Reed. "It's not about how book-smart you are. I've seen some really intelligent guys wash out because they didn't have mental discipline and guys who really struggled in class make it because they wouldn't give up."
Damage Controlman 2nd Class (EOD/SW) J.T. McGraw just completed the EOD course and earned his basic EOD tech qualification. McGraw learned about EOD during his first duty station in Italy.
"I was stationed aboard USS La Salle (AGF 3) in the damage control department. As the Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet flagship, we embarked a lot of special operations guys," McGraw said. "What struck me was the camaraderie that these small teams shared. When they weren't working they had a very relaxed attitude, but when they worked, they really turned it on. It was impressive, and I knew then that's what I wanted to do."
After more than a year of school and training, McGraw wasn't disappointed with his decision.
"It's a lot of hard work and a lot of hours in the classroom," McGraw said. "I'm living a dream. Nothing surprised me after I finished the school and reported to the mobile unit. It's everything I wanted it to be."
"It's fun! This is the only place in the world you can do the things we do on a regular basis," Treible added. "Free-fall parachuting, diving, weapons firing, tactical combat training, intensive physical training, robotics - surface and underwater, and at the end of the day, we get to blow something up. How can you beat that?"
To find out more information about becoming an EOD technician, contact the NECC Force EOD Recruiter, visit www.eod.navy.mil, or talk to an EOD tech.
For more news from around the fleet, visit www.navy.mil.